Can Mets Fans Forgive Oliver Perez
In Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, it would have been hard to believe Oliver Perez would eventually be a pariah. That notion seemed all the more bizarre when you saw Perez have a strong 2007 season and with him doing all he could do to help prevent the Mets from having a second straight collapse in the final game played at Shea Stadium.
But that wasn’t the whole of Perez’s tenure with the Mets. He signed a big free agent deal with the Mets which blew up as every expected it would. The Mets would eventually shut him down in 2010 when he refused a minor league assignment. The final indignity was throwing Perez into the 14th inning of the final game of the season just so everyone could go home.
Perez was released, spent the 2011 season in the minors, and he would re-emerge as a left-handed a reliever. Surprisingly, he’d emerge as a pretty good one.
Over the past seven seasons, Perez has generally had a good reliever. He has made 397 appearances as a reliever pitching to a 3.47 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, 116 ERA+, and an 11.0 K/9. In the relevant time frame, he is in the top 10 among relievers in both K/9 and strikeout rate.
While he struggled to start the year with the Nationals, he rediscovered himself with the Indians. In 51 games with Cleveland, he was 1-1 with a 1.39 ERA, 0.742 WHIP, and 12.0 K/9.
If his name was Oscar Palmer instead of Oliver Perez, Mets fans would be interested in him. Instead of seeing Ollie, they would see a cheap left-handed reliever who could contribute in their bullpen.
But as we saw with Bobby Bonilla returning to the Mets in 1999, Mets fans cannot and will not forget. The shame of it is Perez could actually be a solid option in the Mets bullpen next year. Hopefully, whoever the Mets get instead of Perez is going to be just as cost effective, more reliable, and not going to garner the same visceral reaction from Mets fans.