It’s Oliver Perez day here in Port St. Lucie. Both Terry Collins and Dan Warthen spoke about the lefty after his mostly effective two-inning stint against the Cardinals.
The main takeaway: Both the manager and pitching coach seem pretty much resigned to the idea that Perez won’t be regaining anything like his old velocity anytime soon. Collins recognized that the team is soon going to have to make decisions about the starting rotation to be able to stretch out the appropriate pitchers, and admitted that it will be hard for Perez to make a living as a crafty lefty because it requires location and accuracy within the strike zone.
Both Collins and Warthen praised the way Perez hit his targets today, and Warthen noted that Perez was pitching with a good cutter. Collins reminded the press that Perez does get lefties out and said that if and when Perez is eliminated from the competition for the rotation, he will see work out of the bullpen in situations that call for a lefty specialist.
My guess: A guaranteed $12 million buys Perez the opportunity to fail, but — again — he will ultimately be cut loose. Collins will defend Perez now — as a manager should — but it’s impossible to believe Perez can be more effective working in the mid-80s, even just as a lefty specialist, than guys like Tim Byrdak, Mike O’Connor and Pat Misch, who have way more experience operating without an overwhelming fastball.
The Mets, we hope, are now run by some pretty shrewd people, and I find it hard to imagine a couple of successful Grapefruit League innings, with no strikeouts and a strong wind blowing in, are going to convince anyone that Perez, throwing in the low-to-mid 80s, is a different guy than the one with the 6.81 ERA over the past two seasons. Perhaps I’m giving the new front office too much credit, but I really don’t think so.
Also, for what it’s worth: Collins stressed that the second-base competition is a four-man race (meaning Justin Turner is in the mix with Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy and Luis Castillo) and said he’d try to get every player as many reps as possible until the Mets’ scheduled off day on March 14, at which point he’d like to narrow down the competition.