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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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All Over, Oliver

Two things from Friday night’s game stood out as rather unbelievable, not necessarily in order of import to Mets fans.

1. Keith Hernandez said he has better things to do with his day than be driven a half-hour from the Mets’ hotel in Miami to get a haircut, yet I can’t believe Keith Hernandez has anything better to do with his day.

2. Jerry Manuel said the Mets will have to evaluate Oliver Perez’s status in the starting rotation, yet I can’t believe Oliver Perez will be in the Mets’ rotation the next time his turn comes up.

Keith found himself a fine barber on the premises of Whatchamacallit Stadium. His problem was solved. Ours, regarding who will take the ball every fifth day and give us a reasonable chance to compete, must be taken care of next. En route to that solution, the ball must be removed from Oliver Perez’s cold or hot dead fingers.

Ollie’s dead in this rotation. He’s dead on this team. He’s a sympathetic soul and a human being, but get him the hell out of here. Get him to Buffalo or points south. Keep him off the Met mound at all costs…even if it costs more than $20 million over the next season and two-thirds.

This has become a farce. It was a farce when he was granted a three-year, $36 million contract, it was a farce when he was allowed make ineffective start after ineffective start in 2009 and it was high farce when, this week, the excuse made for him in every corner was it was tough to pitch at windy Citi Field last week. I’m sure it was. I’m also sure it was windy for Tim Lincecum, who managed all right. It was windy most of the last homestand. Nobody pitched as poorly as Oliver Perez in that wind. Just you wait, we were told. Just you wait till Ollie reaches the beaches in Miami. He likes that hot weather. He’s had success at Whatchamacallit Stadium with the sacks of Soilmaster stacked up in the dugout.

So it’s Ollie vs. the Marlins in ideal conditions, and guess who had it most ideal Friday night? Ollie’s problem wasn’t windy walks. It was home run upon home run upon home run climbing into the South Florida atmosphere. The weather didn’t cure him. Nothing cures him. We hold our breath with this guy. We wait for the slightest sign of recovery. We pat him on the head when he goes two innings without calamity. That’s fine for your kid’s tee ball league. It’s a disgrace for Oliver Perez, highly compensated professional.

And what are we waiting for exactly? What is the upside here? Oliver Perez hasn’t gone seven innings in a Mets win since August 8, 2008. He’s thrown 31 consecutive non-outstanding starts since then, and it wasn’t like he was burning it up all that much before this extended run of uselessness. Rick Peterson lost him. Dan Warthen lost him. He’s beyond coaching. He’s beyond help at the major league level. Surely there is a league below where somebody can tinker with his mechanics or his mindset or something.

What’s astoundingly obvious is it can’t be done here, not every fifth day, not in games that count.

There’s no sense of urgency with this management. Jerry Manuel trots the same ineffective lineup out there a day after acknowledging it was ineffective. Guess what — it’s still ineffective. Ollie, meanwhile, is a veritable white flag every fifth day. Other than amortization of what used to be an asset, there’s no excuse for him continuing to be trusted to pitch. The excuses must end five games from now. Be it R.A. Dickey or P.T.J. Misch or D.K. Gee or E.J. Korvettes, the Mets must take Ollie to the proverbial returns counter and exchange him for another arm, one slightly more alive, as if any of them could be deader.

The Mets maintain no sure things on their roster and precious few near certainties. Of the quintet of starters in their employ, Johan Santana is a near certainty. Mike Pelfrey is nearing near certainty status. John Maine and Jon Niese, coming at it from different angles, are still finding their place in this world. Oliver Perez is simply lost. He got his weather this time. He says there’s nothing physically wrong with him. His only ill is terrible, terrible, terrible pitching outside the strike zone and within the strike zone. If it’s not bases on balls, it’s bases on gophers. Per Roseanne Roseannadanna long ago, it’s always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. And Oliver Perez sure makes a lot of money for a guy who pitches from hunger.

18 comments to All Over, Oliver

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  • mikeinbrooklyn

    I agree that Ollie is a sympathetic figure and a human being–a point Keith made tonight after he left. And, also like Keith said, there will be those who show him no sympathy because of the money he makes. Now, I am not the kind of boor who would do that. However, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to show him any sympathy. And that is because of the WAY he got that money–knowing the Mets were in a desperate position pitching-wise, he and his handlers basically held them up. They twisted stats to make the claim (that I doubt even they could have believed) that he was a top-5 lefty starter. And the Mets caved, giving him money that could have been used somewhere else (with an extra 12M per, you think maybe they could’ve been a player in the Lackey sweepstakes this year?). I suppose Ollie and his team can say “hey. that’s negotiation, man. It’s how the game is played.” Well, conversely, for those of us whose main concern is how well the team does–and not how much Ollie makes–the game is also played this way: booing the bum mercilessly.

  • Andee

    Remember the old days, pre-Beltran, when the Mets just flat-out refused to deal with $cott Bora$? Shite like this is why. The man personifies eeeeevilll geeeeenius. (And I strongly suspect that’s why they avoided Matt Holliday, too. Even before the Bora$-Wilpon pissing match about Beltran, they probably knew that this guy was all about taking people to the cleaners. But for some reason, Jeff Wilpon still thought he could win the pissing match. Hah.)

    So Ollie, here’s the good news! You can be a total rag arm for the rest of your life and still buy up half of Mexico! The bad news is…millions of people who desperately wanted to love you will hate you for it. Not your three-card-monte-expert agent. You. Forever. That’s the price you pay for hiring Bora$ when you are a rag arm.

    I, however, will reserve my hate until I hear whether Ollie will agree to go down to the minors or not. If he does, it’s only money. If he doesn’t, he’s a stinking ratbag who doesn’t give a shit about the team, and that I can hate him for a lot more than merely expensively sucking.

  • Lenny65

    I couldn’t agree more. This is a case where literally anyone would be an adequate (and probably better) replacement. There should be a wooden cut-out of Perez in every major league clubhouse that says “you must be at least THIS GOOD to be a MLB starting pitcher”.

  • Matt from Sunnyside

    Yeah, I don’t see how Perez and Boras could consider refusing a minor league assignment after these last two starts. He started the year out bad and just keeps getting worse. And they can’t throw him in the bullpen. What would be his role at this point? Garbage time reliever? How would that help him get back on track, if that’s even a possibility?

    And I’m sure he feels horrible right now. No joke. But it really is difficult to feel too bad for a guy who’s making $12 million per year to suck this bad. Freaking Brett Favre got $12 million from the Vikings last season, and if he had fallen apart or gotten injured, they could have gotten out of the deal for $6 million. And that’s a big contract for the NFL. I know there’s a lot more games and a lot more money in the MLB, but Boras, among others, has just thrown the pay scale way out of proportion. How does anyone merit a $36 million contract, when they’ve got a record of 28 wins and 30 losses during the previous 3 seasons?

  • James Allen

    We’ve all written this same essay over and over, Greg, like the proverbial broken record, and yet nothing ever changes. And now we’re at the condescending “he’s a human being stage” from Met announcers? Are you kidding me? Are you f—ing kidding me? No one’s advocating he be tortured or thrown out of his house for crying out loud. People are just asking that he not pitch for the Mets anymore. Jeeze, how cruel of us to suggest such a thing.

  • At some point every team throws good money after a bad player. The Mets are hardly the only ones who have done this. What is maddening about the team though is that they don’t cut their losses. The Angels are on the hook for a ridiculous amount of money for Gary Matthews, Jr. They ate his salary and traded him for a middle reliever. Last year, the Tigers decided they’d rather pay Gary Sheffield $14 million to not play for them. The Mets are a big market team, with a ballpark full of expensive luxury suites and a regional cable station they should be able to absorb a loss every now and again. They seem unwilling to do so. Even significantly smaller losses, like paying a portion of Billy Wagner’s salary after the Red Sox trade in an effort to land someone a little better than Chris Carter. At what point do the Mets realize they have a better product on the field if they’re paying Ollie not to pitch for them?

  • Gavin

    This has to be the end for Ollie. No more cold weather excuses. After his performance against the Giants, this was always going to be a make or break start. I’m actually relieved that he got hammered instead of going for like 4ER in 5 or 6IP because this way he should lose his spot. I do think he cares, he went to Arizona during the winter to work on his fitness, but he just can’t be risked in a rotation on a team that is trying to contend. I don’t see what the point would be of sending Ollie down to the minors. I wouldn’t bring him up even if he was outstanding down there. I have no more faith in this guy.
    One of Gee or Dickey should be brought up now and trade for a SP in July.

  • oogieball

    Off in the Mets Flickr group, we had a joking bet going before the season on whether the NJ Nets or Ollie would have more wins by the end of the year. I don’t think anyone could have imagined “sent to the minors without a win to his name” as an option.

    Ollie is done. I don’t care about him as a human being. I care about him as a member of the Mets. And frankly, *I* could get zero wins the first month and a half of the season. I shouldn’t be able to do *anything* as well as someone on a major league team.

  • Greg H

    I’m just glad Ollie failed so decisively. But we got deeper problems. We’re leading the league in walks (the pitchers, not the hitters) and strikeouts (the hitters, not the pitchers). When your key free agent signing is a strikeout machine, you kind of hope he’s a pitcher. Primary power hitters One Homer Bay, Clutch Wright and Frenchy are on a pace for 500-plus Ks. They’re also on a pace to hit a collective 48 hrs, with about 140 rbi. Several NL clubs get that from one player. Tatoo Jose is doing doing exactly nothing on the offensive side (except being offensive). The bright spot is an overworked pen with good numbers but an unfortunate propensity for giving up walk-off homers (and wild pitches). I really hope they turn it around, ’cause I love the Mets. But I don’t think they will, ’cause they’re, well, the Mets. Like most previous incarnations, this team has a lot of quit in it.

  • Stu Cohn

    I agree with most of you except where Boras is concerned. It’s his job to get the most money he can for his clients, and in Ollie’s case he did a great job. It’s Mets’ (mis)management that was at fault here for not being savvy enough to realize that they were just bidding against themselves and could have had Perez on a shorter deal for much less money.

    It remains to be seen if the Mets’ brass understands the rest of the money owed Ollie is a sunk cost and whether they have the cojones to just cut him should he refuse a minor league assignment.

    I agree with Greg H that the lineup is a big problem right now. Reyes is useless, but there’s a chance he still may come around, either batting leadoff or #8. The real stinker is Francoeur, who’s reverted to his old, swing-at-anything ways and appears completely lost at the plate. He seems like a cool guy and all, but he’s not helping this team. I’m not sure what the Mets can do right now, especially with F-Mart injured as usual. Maybe, when (if) Beltran returns, Pagan can remain in the lineup and Frenchy can shuffle off to RH bat off the bench or someone else’s reclamation case.

    • mikeinbrooklyn

      I agree with just about everything you said. However, I don’t care if it is Boras’ job to get his client as much money as he can. He still sold us a bill of goods and we have every right to hate him for it.

  • James Allen

    John from Brooklyn pretty much sums it all up. I don’t know what’s more maddening, signing players to bad deals, or having no clue about the concept of sunk cost. The money’s gone, in other words, and continually playing a shitty player won’t get it back. Might as well pay him to be some other team’s problem.

    • Matt from Sunnyside

      Can someone on our 25 man roster please give Maine a spliff? Have a heart-to-heart about growing some dreadlocks and living the island life? Before his next start?

      WTF. That guy has not been great this year, but I swear it always looks like he hates his job more than I hate mine, which is incredible. He could be good, but damn he has got to chill out.

  • BlackCountryMet

    I don’t feel one OUNCE of sympathy for him!! There’s $12m reasons why not. The people i feel sorry for are his team mates that have to put up with his garbage pitching. GET RID NOW