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Washed Away

Mike SteffanosMonday, April 16, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Tonight's game in Philadelphia has already been called off and has been rescheduled for the end of June. Presumably, by then we no longer see ballplayers bundled up in cold weather gear. Thanks to Mother Nature's efforts over the past couple of days combined with the vagaries of MLB Schedulers, the Mets have played only 11 games over the first 16 days of the season. It's been hard to get into the rhythm of major league baseball for me as a fan -- I could only imagine how difficult it might be for the players.

According to pitching coach Rick Peterson there is a silver lining to all of the clouds overhead, as reported by Anthony Rieber in Newsday:

Peterson sees days off as opportunities. He sees a bullpen session as almost as important as game action when you're trying to refine a pitcher's mechanics or approach. And rainouts mean there's more time to work one-on-one, as Peterson has done this past week with Oliver Perez, who walked seven in 2 2/3 innings Wednesday.

Perez, who will have almost a full week of rest when he next pitches Wednesday against the Marlins, has thrown two bullpen sessions this past week instead of one, which Peterson said has been a good thing. "What it allows you to do - it gives you an opportunity to do some things on the mound with extra bullpens that you wouldn't typically be allowed to do," Peterson said. "So you can get some volume in some areas as far as refinement's concerned."

Of course, that was after last night's rain out. You wonder if tonight was maybe too much extra preparation and if Mike Pelfrey might lose out on a start. Still, I could see Peterson's point when it comes to the young guys like Perez, Maine and Pelfrey. Especially with Perez after a really poor outing, refinement is a good thing.

By the way, I was asked by more than one person if I wanted to modify my optimistic attitude towards Perez after the last start. My answer is no. I expected there to be a few bumps in the road, even some big ones. He was bad last time out, no doubt, but that's going to be part of the process. I know there are some who are very skeptical of the pitching, and will seize on outings like Perez and Maine's last ones as evidence of a disaster in the making. They'd probably accuse me of wishful thinking, but I honestly think Perez will be able to turn his career around.

He'll never be smooth like Tom Glavine, nor will he be able to spot his pitches as well. He'll most likely always be prone to making some mistake pitches and consequently giving up some homeruns. When he's under control, though, his stuff is good enough to get away with some mistakes, provided he limits the mistakes and stays away from being constantly behind in the count.

I was pleasantly surprised at the speed in which he instituted some of Peterson's teachings this spring, and he does look ready to turn a corner. With a guy like Perez, though, you can expect progress to be intertwined with some steps backward at times. It understandably makes for good stories for those covering the team to play up the steps back, but I like the kid's attitude -- he really is confident despite spending most of two seasons wandering in the wilderness. Confidence matters. He's also bought into the changes Peterson is trying to implement, and by all accounts is working diligently at them. I'm not predicting a Cy Young in 2007, but I truthfully expect Perez to surprise and disappoint those who are waiting for him to implode. Just a feeling.

Sandlot ball still alive and well
I received an email today from Paul about a sandlot baseball program for kids on the Island in Shoreham, NY. Paul tells me, "I like to think we're doing our part to save baseball from irrelevance to the kids out here." This is from their web site:

Sandlot Ball is a league for kids to come and just play baseball. No Standings. No Playoffs. No Protests. No Practices. Only The Game. Just enough adult supervision.

Sounds great. If you live out there and you want your kids to have happy memories of baseball when they grow up, this sounds like a great program. Even the parents shouldn't be able to screw this league up.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (7)

OK Mike, this weather is killing me. I don't even have to actually experience it... I'm a transplanted NYer in Portland, Oregon. But please, please, please, can we get some games in? Even better, can we watch some Mets baseball that's being played in temps above the low-40's? I can't even get a good read on where this team is, because - on the days they actually play - everyone's playing with frozen hands. You just can't play good baseball like that.

But rather than just complain about the weather, how about the schedule-makers do something about it. Schedule the first three weeks of the season in as many warm weather cities and indoor stadiums as possible. Night games in NY and Cleveland in early April? Please. I realize that this isn't a perfect solution, and lots of games will still have to be played in uncertain conditions, but unless they're ready to cut back to 24 teams, go back to a 154 game schedule, and re-institute scheduled doubleheaders, the Marlins, Braves, Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, Astros, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Padres, etc. should always open with 15 of their first 18 at home.

OK, I'm done now.

Au Contrare: After the cold weather pitching, with its threat of injury I say nay. Plus the fact Gomez might preview by the time the rescheduled game takes place is fun to think about. Heck maybe Johan santana pitches in that series for the Mets.

On another note: I agree that the Mets have only shown glimpses on offense, and everyone on the starting staff has had at least one good game and one 'less than' outting.

Great ndepth article there about your thoughts on the Oliver Perez situation at the moment Mike . And I must say , I agree whole heartedly with your words concerning Oliver Perez . Reclamatiom project ? Needs a New Organizational adjustment?r Whatever..... Oliver to me , has some real Talent waiting to be exploited to it's fullest potential by someone well experienced in the PC department , say like a Rick Peterson? Wouldn't you think that Mike ? I mean , we all have seen how good Perez can be when he is ON . And you know Mike ,he kinda reminds me of another Met pitcher that one time showed Promise , but just couldn't quite put it All together as his time as a Met . I am Speaking of the unforgetable Mr. Mark Bombeck . But hopefully , Perez will have a better Future with the Mets than Poor Mark did Eh Mikey ? .........Sigh .

I mostly agree with your notion of Oliver Perez' future, with one notable caveat.

Perez has the stuff to dominate when he's got the motion; on that we all can agree. What worries me is that, from what I am seeing, if he falls out of that ideal motion by just a little, the damage to his delivery is great, all out of proportion to how much he deviated from his best motion. I DON'T get the feeling that is true of most quality pitchers; some guys, such as Dave Cone, pitched any which way as the moment inspired. Now, Hideo Nomo, that was a guy who had to get it exactly right when he was pitching with us.

How will it all shake out for Oliver Perez in 2006? It's a page turner.

I tapped out the above comment last night. Since then it occurred to me that Aaron Heilman falls into roughly the same category as Perez, a pither who has to maintain his mechanics just so or else become ineffective. And as we all know, Heilman is one who HAS overcome his problem.

So perhaps that is additional cause for hope where Perez is concerned.

fuuny how we look to make comparisons. I think Perez's flaw is mental, mostly confidence in his pitch selection. frankly his stuff is ahead of Petey's.

MY comparison is with David Cone. Coney was awesome, and erratic. once he had his strikezone he had no hit stuff. BUT if you got in his head implosion followed. The best thing he did was go to Toronto and Kansas. But I regret that Joe Mc failed to lure him back as a FA.

Back to Perez; I expect him to have as many near no-hitters as certified implosions this season. But in between I ghope he has several starts like his norm (6 hits/3-4 runs/6IP).

ajsmith - I think if major league baseball would cut down dramatically on the interleague games, the schedule would be a lot easier to manage. Of course, since those games make a lot of $$$$ for owners, fat chance of that happening.

By the way, I read somewhere that all teams like home games in the months when kids are out of school, because they draw more fans. Teams in warm weather spots would object to having so many home games scheduled for April.
Ed - You're wrong. Not really, but I haven't said that to you for a while and felt it was time...
Mark - Going back a little further, he reminds me of Pete Falcone. He was 25 when he came to New York, too, also a lefty. Ton of talent, though not as many Ks as Perez. I thought he was going to be something, but he never really figured it out.
dd - I think once he gets the mechanics straightened out he'll have more room for error. He proved in 2004 that he could maintain things over the course of a season. I know he probably was a little lucky that year, but he still had a solid year of just under 200 innings. Anyway, I'm just sharing my thoughts on why I'm still optimistic. Not trying to convert the non-believers.

Interesting point on Heilman. Probably true about many hurlers who use the low 3/4 arm slot. Randy Johnson, too. When they don't stay on top of the ball their stuff turns flat and their control suffers.
Ed - I think at the major league level, maintaining mechanics for a pitcher is more mental than physical. It's more than just pitch selection, though. I do like the comparison with Cone, though.

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