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... Sometimes It Rains

Mike SteffanosSunday, August 27, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


There's nothing like a cool, rainy day in late August to remind you that summer is slowly giving way to autumn. The weather has also conspired to deprive us of our game today. If you haven't heard, the game has been rescheduled for noon tomorrow. Some thoughts and news bits on a rainy afternoon:

Not bad for a guy with a Mets ERA of 9
Oliver Perez made his Mets debut yesterday, and while no one is etching his name on the Cy Young award, most who watched the game came away impressed. We heard that one of the things he lost in Pittsburgh this year was his velocity. I had personally read that he wasn't getting his fastball out of the mid-80s, yet yesterday he was bringing it in the low to mid 90s all evening. I know there are mixed opinions on Perez, but I can't see how taking a chance on a power lefty isn't worthwhile.

I thought Marty Noble did a good job of summing up Perez' 5 innings against the Phillies in this feature on Mets.com:

For weeks, the Mets had guarded against looking too far ahead. They had dealt successfully with the temptation to think about October before finishing August. But they were guilty Saturday night, guilty of peering months ahead when weeks remain in their season.

Their fragmented focus was caused by what they witnessed in the course of their 11-5 thumping of the Phillies. They glimpsed what Oliver Perez can do and were quite struck by it. And they applied those impressions, not to next week, next month or October, but to next season. Forgive them the fantasy, short-lived as it was.

Brought to the big leagues only because of the spate of maladies that recently has beset the Mets' starting rotation, Perez shut down the Phillies for four innings on Saturday in his debut as a Met. For 15 batters -- five strikeouts, three walks and seven other assorted outs -- Perez was all the Mets thought he could become.

Pitching coach Rick Peterson used the word "dominating." Perez's catcher, Paul Lo Duca, used "awesome" and former opponent Shawn Green said he was reminded of a time two years ago when Green was sure Randy Johnson and Perez were the two primary left-handed pitchers in the National League.

Then the fifth inning happened, and it was June 2006 and a Minor League assignment was awaiting Perez. The inability to throw strikes that cost Perez his big-league status with the Pirates two months ago again was his undoing. In a seven-batter sequence, he walked two batters, including the opposing pitcher, hit a batter, surrendered a run-scoring single and gave up a grand slam to Ryan Howard.

To those who insist on calling the trade for Bert Hernandez and Perez a "panic move", I'd like to know where Omar has ever given the slightest indication that he would give in to panic? I believe, as in the Benson trade, he had a clear idea of what he wanted. We all know that there is no sure thing with Perez, because we never would have obtained him if he wasn't so messed up. I just honestly can't understand those that would write off this kid so easily, especially if you watched last night's start with any kind of an open mind. Sorry, but a 25-year-old power lefty who has no physical problems is always going to be a worthwhile gamble in my book.

Not a bad player after all
When I still listened to the Mike and the Mad Dog show on WFAN, I heard them state repeatedly that Carlos Beltran was a good, not great player, and that his contract was based on one great playoff run. They also pronounced that he would never hit many home runs with Shea as his home park. I think Beltran is proving to all of us that he is an elite ballplayer, and he's likely to set the franchise record for home runs. Why do people give so much credence to those guys? Their pompous pronouncements are often out of whack.

NY Times: Tom Glavine
David Picker has a feature on Tom Glavine's return to action.

Fox Sports: Boo Hoo
Ken Rosenthal gives us yet another "end of an era" feature on the Braves.

NorfolkTides.com: Pelfrey's return
Mike Pelfrey returned to action with 3 scoreless innings for Norfolk.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets

Continuous Mets Coverage:
MetsBlog
Hot Foot

Comments (10)

i agree that there is a hypocrisy here as well as a paradox. A large part of the blogging crowd have already written him off. The paradox is he IS a strikeout pitcher THE ingredient of pitching that most excites fans...as opposed to the slow hitscapades of Glavine and Traxx.

In response to the above comment by Anonymous: Glavine has recorded 5.79 strikeouts per nine this season, Trachsel, 4.30 strikeouts per nine. Glavine's strikeout rate is actually about half a K better than his career average, and plenty respectable.

Trachsel is another story of course.

Ed -- Glavine and Trachsel are beyond the point here, and I'm not endorsing Perez for a playoff spot or anything. I haven't found that the majority of bloggers have written off Perez, just a few. I think I wrote that more in response to columnists who insist on calling that trade a panic move. What are they going to say if Perez can turn himself around and harness his stuff?

First off, young lefties who throw 95 mph with nasty breaking stuff are the rarest of commodities in Major League Baseball. The fact that we got him (plus Roberto Hernandez) for a middling corner outfielder shows just how poorly the Pirates organization is being run.

I also think that the aquisitions of Perez and now Mota show how well Omar understands the art of dealing from strength. In both cases you had very talented guys who seemed physically OK but who were struggling in bad situations with teams that were probably no fun to be around. The Mets, on the other hand, seem to be having as much fun as any team I've ever watched, and their clubhouse is full of good, smart guys who enjoy playing together. Don't underestimate the impact that has on performance. Think about how you would perform in a job that you love, vs. a job that you dread getting up for every morining - no matter what the salary involved. People are people and putting them in a positive environment makes a difference in their effectiveness. And at the big league level of competition, that edge is likely to mean the difference between success and failure.

Looking at it the other way, how many guys have come here and disappointed when this franchise was being poorly run? Don't you think that coming to a poorly constucted club full of guys who didn't want to be here had something to do with that? Here's hoping that Omar keeps looking for these high-upside "change of scenery" guys whose cost is comparatively lower than their real value. Will Oliver Perez get back to where he was in '04 and blossom here? Will Mota return to his previously established level? Too soon to tell. But if even a small percentage of these kinds of moves pan out, their impact can be enormous.

Mike--

Good point about Mike and the Mad Dog. I think the two of them could be the most pompous radio personalities in the country (with the possible exception of Rush Limbaugh) and they seem to find everything out of their mouth as gospel.

And they are idiots with no idea what's going on in the sports world.

Case and point, during after the NBA draft where the minimum selection age was 19,

Mad Dog: "I didn't see any high school players getting selected in the first round."

ajsmith -- I actually liked Nady more than most. I thought he was still learning, but had a lot of upside, and saw him as a potential middle of the order power bat someday. I was really sorry to see him go. If Omar traded Nady for Hernandez, that would have been a bad move. What I'm trying to say here is that I understand the deal from the Pirates' standpoint and am not as critical of them as you are, but still love the deal.

I agree with everything else you save completely. When things were going well for the Braves they specialized in reclamation projects like this. You are right on the money when you say that it only takes a percentage of these moves to pan out to make them worthwhile.
-------------------------------------------------
jack -- That's funny. I've heard more than a few of those in 15 years of listening to those guys. People who still listen to their show need to treat it more as entertainment and less as truly knowledgeable sports discussion.

Mike,
1. To clarify. My Mlb gamecast isnt working so I 'watched' on gameday. What I saw was Ollie hitting good spots for the most part but his control of the inside pt of the plate needed the most work, and the Phillies had the expectation that he could not throw strikes so worked him deep into counts. On MetsGeek which had near 700 comments and Metsblog another 200, the blogging fans were quick to turn on Ollie after the HR, yet many were enraptured thru 4.2 innings.

2. Mst power to Willie for letting Perez stay in and strikeout burrell....on 3 pitches (i recall).

3. Shari also pointed out this was probably the most highly anticipated debut this yr, gleaning excitement not seen since Pedro last yr.

4. Maine and Mota were outstanding again today...At this point if you throw Ryan Howard a strike above the knees/outer-half its gone.

Metropolitans has the pitch by pitch breakdown on Ollie:
http://themetropolitans.blogspot.com/

1. WHEN has anyone ever warranted THIS much screening for pitching 5.0 innings, giving up 5 runs.

2. In the breakdown one could argue the AB by Coste which should have been a SO rattled Ollie. Maybe an earlier visit to the mound would have helped. Still 4 out of 5 runs were on one(MVP)swing. Ask John Maine if you can recover from those type days.

Ed -- I have to admit that I wasn't that excited about Perez when they picked him up, because I expected a broken-down lunatic with some kind of arm injury. What I heard about him in Norfolk got me excited, and what I saw from him Saturday didn't change that.

I saw Mike's article on the Metropolitans and will link to it from a post I'm writing now.

Shari's comments deserve a link just for the puns.

http://mets.mostvaluablenetwork.com/7-train/oliver-perez-proscons/

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