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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Say Goodbye to Olliewood

“Now, Leo, most of us are just hearing the news. And I don’t like to be the first one to say it, but I’m gonna. I think the President has got to strongly consider not running for re-election.”

You think you’re the first one to say it?”


You are, at minimum, the 35th in the last two hours.”

—Leo McGarry, barely tolerating party bigwigs who think they’re telling him something he hasn’t already heard, The West Wing

With all due respect to Rod Barajas, I greeted no home run Monday night with more relish than that hit by Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the seventh inning. And it’s not because Barajas hit his in the top of the sixth while I was briefly snoozing.

Headley’s bomb over the distant center field fence of Petco Park should have been a loud and resounding wakeup call to everybody who has any kind of say in the Oliver Perez Affair. There shouldn’t be an Oliver Perez Affair, but there is, and it is corrosive. Sadly, the only people who can do anything to limit the corrosion are Oliver Perez; his agent, Scott Boras; and whoever it is who makes painful personnel decisions regarding overpriced, underperforming dolts who weigh down the New York Mets’ active roster by dint of their absurd contracts and inscrutable motives.

The Mets were losing 16-6 when Chase Headley homered, so the outcome of Monday night was no longer in doubt. Really, the outcome was never in doubt by my sense for these things. The Mets usually find a way to look irredeemably bad for at least one night of any San Diego stay and I had a hunch their first night would be their worst night (if it wasn’t, then we’re all in trouble). Even taking the time difference into account, we’d waited too long on a Monday holiday for a game. After five hours of ducking in an out of the Mets Yearbook marathon — ducking in and out only because I’d already immersed myself in each and every episode multiple times before — the prospect that a pregame show and a game still awaited felt surprisingly onerous. I’d already cheered for the 1963 Mets, the 1966 Mets, the 1968 Mets and so on, clear up through the 1988 Mets. By 9:30 I had little left for the 2010 Mets.

Which put me in the company of Hisanori Takahashi, among others.

Hard to get down on Hisanori Takashi for at last being the selection within that box of chocolates from which you never know what you’re going to get. Following weeks of electrifying long relief work and two shimmering starts, Takahashi was that awful chewy thing you can’t get out of your teeth. Damn imperfect box of chocolates. His four innings left us in a 6-1 cavity, and though we began to climb out — I nodded off at 6-4 — I had the sense we’d be pushed right back in. Hence, when I woke up and found Raul Valdes hadn’t held the fort and Ryota Igarashi was actively surrendering it, I wasn’t too sore. It’s the Padres. They are the personification of what Forrest Gump’s momma advised him. You have no idea from 3,000 miles east who is in their box of chocolates. Chirs Denorfia? Oscar Salazar? Luis Durango?

Doesn’t matter who they are, You just know that if you have too many of them after midnight, they’re bad for you.

It’s undoubtedly going to be a bad night. It was 6-4 for a couple of minutes before you fell asleep. When you woke up it was 10-6. As you degroggified yourself, it was inexorably becoming 12-, then 15-, then 16-6. You have inferred through your haze that it wasn’t the bullpen’s night any more than it was Takahashi’s. You try to think of the last time the Mets went to San Diego and did anything but suck and assume it’s been a while. Indeed, according to Baseball-Reference, the Mets haven’t split a series there since 2006, haven’t won a series there since 2002, have won only four series there since 1991 and last swept a series there in 1988. You decide, despite having already written off the previous ugly loss on this road trip as Just One of Things, that you’re going to be sophisticated about this. Takahashi & Co. just didn’t have it. Several of our pitchers and a whole host of those Padres are essentially unknown quantities, and sometimes such a combination results in mass quantities of runs for the wrong guys.

Yes, it was all going to be very sophisticated, until I saw Oliver Perez trot in from the Met bullpen to rescue Igarashi in the sixth. Then it all became very coarse and not a little Schadenfreudish toward fucking Ollie, his fucking agent and the fucking idiotic organization that handed him the keys to a perpetual printing press that produces million-dollars bills and is equipped with no off switch.

Oliver Perez was, for a time, one of my favorite pitchers on the New York Mets. That time has passed. Ollie’s time on the Mets has passed in every conceivable way except contractually. Contractually, Ollie is a Met through the 2011 season. Ollie gets to dress in a Mets uniform every day until then, whether there is a need or a constituency for it. There is neither right now. Ollie is as 12th man on the pitching staff/25th man on the roster as it gets. Ollie is 20,000 leagues under Elmer Dessens and Gary Matthews, Jr., at this point in his checkered career. Ollie is who is used by Jerry Manuel when there is one out in the sixth and the Mets are down by nine.

That, apparently, is when Ollie Perez and Scott Boras think Ollie can work out whatever’s been plaguing him for a season-and-a-third. That, apparently, is when Oliver Perez has a chance to revert to the 2007 and 2008 form that earned him the $36 million he is in the process of collecting through 2011. Perez and Boras have to root for the Mets to fall behind by nearly double-digits so Perez can take the mound and ratchet up his velocity and hone his command and find himself. That, apparently, is the plan Perez and Boras have for curing Ollie’s ills. Ollie can’t go to St. Lucie or Buffalo. The Mets, in deference to Ollie’s veteran status, can’t make him, and he ain’t gonna volunteer.

Team Ollie has apparently convinced itself that its client is more highly decorated than Bobby Jones and Steve Trachsel, two former All-Stars who were failing as Mets and accepted temporary minor league assignments en route to recapturing credible major league form. Jones went down to Norfolk in 2000 useless and returned a reliable starter who threw a one-hitter to nail down a Met playoff series. Trachsel went down to Norfolk in 2001 worse than useless and returned a reliable starter who persevered as a staple of Met rotations clear through 2006 when he pitched their only division-clincher of the past two decades. Jones and Trachsel could have said no to the Mets’ suggestion that they seek a cure for whatever was ailing them somewhere besides the major league roster. They, like Perez, had the service time to say no, and they, too, were going to get paid no matter where they went. But they had the wherewithal to say yes. They helped themselves and they helped their club.

Oliver Perez is helping nobody. There is not a Mets fan to whom this is news. There is not a Mets player to whom this is news. Every Met decisionmaker from Jeff Wilpon to Omar Minaya to Jerry Manuel (if he indeed gets to weigh in on personnel matters) knows Oliver Perez is nothing more than a useless lump of goo right now. An expensive lump, to be sure, but one whose meter gets fed no matter how much goo he has turned into. He could be trying to reshape his goo-like career into that of a serviceable starting pitcher again, but his braintrust says otherwise. It says, No, Ollie, you’re a major leaguer. Your contract says you are, so just stay put. You refuse that temporary assignment that might make you useful to somebody — the Mets, another team, yourself. You just sit in the bullpen for days on end and wait for the Mets to fall hopelessly behind so your manager will feel inserting you into a game can’t do anybody too much tangible harm.

This is a latter-day bonus baby throwing a tantrum. In days of yore, bonus babies — hot and heavily compensated prospects of the Stephen Strasburg variety — had to be carried on major league rosters or the team that signed them risked losing them. It’s how an underripe Sandy Koufax survived on the 1955 and 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers despite Walter Alston choosing to use him only 28 times in two years. Bonus babies couldn’t be sent down. Baseball realized eventually this was folly and the rule was changed. The rule that allows Baby Ollie to prohibitively resist minor league assignment relates to his experience, not his lack of it. He’s been a major leaguer for more than five years. He doesn’t have to go anywhere he doesn’t want to go. Neither did Jones. Neither did Trachsel. But they did. They (and their agents) understood they weren’t getting any better sucking up roster space with the Mets, not if their manager, Bobby Valentine, wasn’t going use them in any meaningful capacity.

Ollie Perez made fourteen starts in 2009 before his season ended, murkily, on the Disabled List. He wasn’t what you’d objectively call good in more than five of them. He made seven starts before being pulled from the rotation in 2010, and was undeniably dreadful in five of them. His ERA as a starter over the past two years is 6.53. Perez has now made four relief appearances in which he has faced a total of 26 batters. Thirteen of them have reached base via hit (7), walk (5) or hit by pitch (1). He was getting worse and worse as a starter. He isn’t getting any better as a reliever. He won’t consent to a professional intervention. And he gets paid regardless.

I’d love to be the one to tell you something different from what you’ve already figured out for yourself. But my conclusion is likely the same as yours:

Let Oliver Perez go collect his enormous fucking paychecks somewhere else.

17 comments to Say Goodbye to Olliewood

  • CharlieH

    “The man has got to GO!”

    — Dennis Quaid as Gordon Cooper, talking about Alan Sheppard’s pre-orbit urinary situation in The Right Stuff

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Before last night’s game Perez was asked again and refused to be sent down.

    Just release him and let Ollie fall into deeper mood swings by sitting at home instead of being a part of a major league team. Eventually he’ll re-sign with another club at lot less money and be a loser all-around and the Wilpons will stop the financial hemmerging due to his contract (and when did you ever hear me actually be on the side of Fred and Jeff, especially on money issues?).

    If Ollie refuses to sign on with another organizaton at a much lesser contract, it’s a sure bet it would be at the influence of his agent. I suspect Boras can legally hold Perez to the terms of his own cut of the original Met contract by making sure he does nothing to cause it being voided, which includes sitting at home for the next year and a half if released. Meanwhile, with a roster spot open, the Mets could do no worse than to call up Pat Misch, who is 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA at Buffalo and deserves a shot more than Ollie does.

    • FormerDirtDart

      No matter what Ollie does, he will get the same amount of money.
      If released, and signed by another club for less money, the Mets will still be responsible for paying whatever amount is needed for his pay to equal his current contract.
      I’m thinking, the only cut in pay Ollie would face in going down to the minors is in the per-diem rate players receive.

      • Joe D.

        found this on the web regarding the contracts of released players:

        Designated for Assignment (DFA)
        A player designated for assignment is removed from his club’s 40-man roster and, within the next 10 days, traded, released or, if he clears waivers, assigned to the minor leagues. A club may not designate a player for assignment if the corresponding transaction is to recall a player on optional assignment.

        A player designated for assignment may be traded. A club interested in acquiring a player who has been designated for assignment may try to work out a trade before the player is placed on waivers, eliminating the possibility he might be claimed by a club with a higher waiver claim priority.

        A player designated for assignment who clears waivers and is not traded may be released. The player then becomes a free agent.
        A club wishing to send a player designated for assignment to the minor leagues must first place him on irrevocable outright waivers, making him available to the other 29 clubs in reverse order of won-lost record.

        If the player is claimed, he is lost to the claiming team for $20,000. (Irrevocable waivers may not be reversed.) The claiming team is responsible for the balance of the contract.

        If the player is not claimed (clears waivers), the club may option him or assign him outright to the minor leagues, though he must continue to be paid according to the terms of his contract. A player may be assigned outright to the minors only once in his career without his permission. Thereafter, he may either 1) reject the assignment and become a free agent, or 2) accept the assignment and become a free agent at the end of the season if he’s not back on the 40-man roster. Additionally, player with 3 years of major league service may refuse an outright assignment and choose to become a free agent, regardless of whether he has been sent outright to the minors previously. A player with 5 years of major league service time who refuses an outright assignment is entitled to the money due according to the terms of his contract.

        A waiver is permission from other clubs to trade or assign a Major League player’s contract. A waiver request is filed through the Commissioner’s Office and granted for a limited time period.

        Unconditional Release Waivers
        A club that wishes to release a player places him on unconditional release waivers. He then may be claimed for $1, but the player has five days to choose whether to accept it or refuse the claim and become a free agent. If the player rejects the claim, he become a free agent and forfeits the remaining money due on his contract. If the player accepts the claim, the new team pays him under the contract he signed with his former team. If no team claims the player, he becomes a free agent.

        • FormerDirtDart

          Unfortunately, you are confusing written rules with reality.
          Simply put, no team will take Ollie off of the Mets hands, without forcing them to eat a large portion of the contract.
          A clear example was Sheffield. The Mets paid him somewhere close to $400K last year, while the Tigers, who released him, were still responsible for the remainder of the $14mil owed him.
          Ollie will get the remainder of this years $16mil, and all of next years, no matter where or if he plays another inning. And, the Mets will pay him most, if not all, of that money.

          • Joe D.

            I now realize there is a catch-22 to this situation.

            I knew a team claiming a player off waivers would only be responsible for paying him the minimum wage. From what I read, I thought it was implied that a team could just release a player if they wanted to in lieu of hoping to then negotiate a trade.

            The only option open to the Mets other than choking us his contract with nothing in return would then be to take him off the waiver list. Otherwise he becomes a free agent.

            Is it therefore that everyone assumes (correctly, I suppose) that there is no way the Mets could put Ollie on waivers without him being snatched by an opposing team? It would not make sense not to claim him in lieu of having to negotiate a new contract after clearing waivers and becoming a free agent. I guess if no team claimed him on waivers, the players’ union would call that either blackballing or collusion.

            Had forgotten when the Tigers released Sheffield last spring, the Mets only signed him for $400K, with Detroit choking up the rest of his remaining contract. Did the Mets claim him off waivers?

  • Tom in Sunnyside

    If they let him go (and they absolutely need to) it will be an admission by Omar Minaya that he is clueless (and he is).

    Speaking of whom, has anyone seen Omar lately? He’s kept a low profile, including the trip to Atlanta.

    It’s a shame baseball doesn’t have the equivalent of the NYC Department of Education’s “rubber room”, where they could send useless players like Ollie, pay them their money, keep them off the roster or anyone else’s.

  • Dennis Quaid, CharlieH? The problem is, Oliver Perez can quote Quaid’s Met fan from “Frequency”: He can still say, “I’m still here, Chief!”

  • Dak442

    I like that “unnamed Mets” are now beginning to voice their displeasure with Ollie. It would be even better if they were identified, preferably other pitchers with impeccable credentials.

    What a selfish, petulant ass. I guess he figures he can live quite nicely on $36mil for the rest of his life, why bother trying to improve and continue drawing a check ater 2011?

    This all stems from Boras. I wish the owners could figure out a way to get away with colluding to boycott this creep’s clients.

  • Metsfann

    If Detroit could release Sheffield last season, the Mets can release Perez. At the very least the Mets could trade Perez to someone, preferably in the AL West, Mexico or Japan (and eat a large bit of contract), for a farmhand at the Rookie League level (although, failing that I would be happy if they could get a bucket of balls and a candy bar for him). His removal is no longer optional, it is vital because right now the Mets would be better off from both a team standpoint and also talent standpoint to move Ollie to the broadcast booth for Los Mets and put Ron Darling back in uniform (although Ron would be seriously missed during the telecast).

  • Tom in Sunnyside

    Trade Ollie to British Petroleum for Deep Horizon. Neither organization seems to be able to do much with what they have and neither could do worse than the other in solving the relevant problem.

  • LarryDC

    A Met fan immersed in the franchise’s unlucky history knows there’s a chance that a let-go Ollie goes to another team, finds his form … and joins the ranks of ex-Mets who pitch no-hitters. Heck, maybe even against the Mets!

    And yet … there’s just no choice. Even if that terrifying scenario were to come true, no Met fan could accuse the franchise of letting him go too soon/not giving him enough of a chance.

    In honor of all those pitchers who don’t have close to Ollie’s natural gifts, and yet use guile and heart and smarts to be successful, give the man his walking papers.

  • Hmm, the Mets losing money on a useless player? Like that‘s never happened before.

  • mL

    wow, where’s that violent tony bernazard when you really need him…not that i’d condone any kind of threats of bodily harm against ollie…but just sayin’ ;o)

  • Andee

    It doesn’t seem very likely that Ollie finds his form and comes back to haunt the team, unless that team has a supply of (cough) magic beans that the Mets disallow their players. Or Roger Craig teaches him how to scuff (if Craig still remembers how). He is one of those power pitchers who, if he doesn’t hit at least 93 on the gun, has nothing. Same as Maine. Johan Santana, like Pedro Martinez before him, can survive a drop in velocity because he has other weapons in his arsenal; not so with Smokin’ OP.

    The problem is, the Mets just have too many damn contracts to eat. People want Minaya fired and the whole front office cleaned out, Manuel fired and the whole coaching staff cleaned out, Maine released and his contract eaten, Castillo released and his contract eaten, Francouer released and his contract eaten, GMJr released and his contract eaten, Igarashi released and his contract eaten…and that’s before we even get to OP. That’s some heavy munching. If they cut Perez, that probably means they won’t cut anyone else for a very long time. Sunk costs are one thing; eating a third of your payroll is another.

  • Lenny65

    My feeling is that we’ve gotten everything we’re ever going to get from Oliver. As far as Ollie turning it around somewhere else is concerned, I remember hearing the same thing about Anthony Young way back when. As it turned out, he sucked regardless of where he played. I have little doubt that the same will hold true for Perez.

  • BlackCountryMet

    This guy(and Scott WiseA$$) is really starting to vex me. What’s with his “I’m too good for the minors” attitude? As it’s clearly apparent that we’re not gonna use him till past the point where a game can be won what he’s basically saying is that he doesn’t care about the team, or particularly even improving himself, he’s just gonna keep trousering the money regardless. I sometimes struggle with fans booing players whilst on the field but if I was in NYC and able to be at a game, I would make a point of going to the surrounds of the bullpen, JUST to shout abuse at him!!