Oliver Perez In So Many Words

This past Sunday, Oliver Perez couldn't make it through the fifth inning against the worst team in baseball. Saturday is Ollie's Last Stand (well, not really) against the defending World Champion Phillies. In the meantime, let's continue an unofficial "Oliver Perez Week" with a chronological look at the various phases of his career, as covered by a wide variety of writers:

The Prodigy

  • 10/1/2004 - Nearing the end of a spectacular season by 23-year-old Ollie, Mike Prisuta of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says:

Oliver Perez is on the verge of becoming one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, assuming he isn't already

Oliver Perez struck out more batters per nine innings last season than all but seven pitchers in the history of baseball. It's no surprise that Randy Johnson heads this list... I tell this to pessimists who start comparing Perez to the likes of Kris Benson. Perez is a wunderkind; Benson is a 30-year-old prospect... More comparisons to [Mark] Prior, [Pedro] Martinez or Johan Santana could be made, but let's end instead with another lanky left-hander who had a much closer career record to Perez at age 22: Sandy Koufax.

The Fall

  • 6/29/2005 - CBC Sports tells us about Ollie's trip to the DL:

Kicking a clubhouse laundry cart has landed Pittsburgh Pirates ace Oliver Perez on the 15-day disabled list. Perez, 23, broke his left big toe after booting the cart following his Sunday start versus the St. Louis Cardinals.

More currently, there is Myth No. 48, namely that left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez was the second coming of Sandy Koufax or Steve Carlton. Shame on us all for that little associative spasm.

  • 7/31/2006 - Young Oliver's Met adventure begins. Gerry Fraley of the Sporting News tells us what's what:

Perez appeared to be developing into the Pirates' staff ace... But he reported to spring training in poor shape in 2005 and has struggled since... The Pirates have had trouble getting Perez to stay with a consistent delivery, a problem that has led to major variations in his velocity. He threw regularly in the 97-mph range in 2004, but now sometimes fails to hit 90.

The Rebound

  • 10/26/2006 - A strong NLCS Game 7 performance excites Murray Chass at the New York Times:

Pitching six innings, Pérez, a 25-year-old left-hander who was the winner in Game 4, gave up four hits and one run - on a ground single to right field, a bloop single to left and a suicide squeeze... It was a remarkable effort by Pérez

  • 7/12/2007 - The HNIC himself, Eric Simon, recognizes Ollie's strong first half of the season:

Seemed to lose a bit of his command during the month or so prior to landing on the disabled list, but his ERA is still 9th in the league, his K/9 is 7th and his WHIP is 6th. There is plenty to like here, loads of talent

The Enigma

  • 6/30/2008 - Tristan Cockcroft at ESPN.com notes Ollie's big game abilities:

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Perez plays to his competition; he's 5-0 with 3.09 ERA in nine starts against teams with a winning record, and 1-5 with a 7.97 ERA in eight starts against teams with a losing record. Does that not support Perez's case as baseball's most unpredictable starter?

  • 7/12/2008 - Ben Sphigel at the New York Times sums up a victory over the Rockies:
Oliver Pérez, throwing what catcher Brian Schneider called his best fastball of the season, gave up one run — bringing his total for his last three starts to two — and two hits... The Mets, in their continued quest to maximize Pérez’s potential, have invented gimmicks to make him believe that every start is the biggest of his season and career.
  • 9/9/2008 - Carlos Delgado saves the day, per Adam Rubin at the Daily News:

Delgado belted a pair of homers to offset a terrible outing from Oliver Perez, and the Mets outslugged the Nationals, 10-8... Perez was charged with seven earned runs on eight hits while lasting just 3-1/3 innings.

The Offseason Of Our Discontent

The Mets would be much better off signing Big Unit to a one-year deal than Oliver Perez to a five-year deal at whatever absurd annual salary Boras will be demanding.

  • 11/13/2008 - Keith Law at ESPN.com discusses free agents:

Bear in mind that even with a great defense behind him, Perez was just a league-average pitcher in 2008... Perez is in line to get four years from someone because of three things: He's left-handed. He has thrown more than 370 innings the past two seasons. And he misses bats. But there's not enough reason to believe he'll start throwing enough strikes to justify the big contract he's going to get.

  • 1/6/2009 - Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, with some insider info:

Free-agent right-hander Derek Lowe is not the Mets' unanimous No. 1 choice among the remaining free-agent starting pitchers. Oliver Perez, 27, is left-handed, eight years younger than Lowe and accustomed to pitching in New York. He also got married in mid-December, a sign of his growing maturity.

  • 1/6/2009 - Sam responds to Rosenthal:

What? Besides the obvious absurdity of that statement, when has Perez's maturity ever been an issue? You know who else is left-handed, accustomed to pitching in New York, and younger than Derek Lowe? Scott Schoeneweis.

  • 1/13/2009 - I give my two cents on Lowe vs. Perez at Mets Geek:

For the purposes of objective player evaluation, we cannot let memories of Perez's big games against the Phillies cloud the fact that he led the league in walks and was not even one of the top 30 pitchers in the National League last season (in a contract year!)

Ollie Re-Signed, Let's Go Ollie

  • 3/26/2009 - Following an awful World Baseball Classic and spring training, Ollie is upset about allegations that he's a heffer. Per David Lennon at Newsday:

Oliver Perez denied this morning that he is out of shape, only a little behind after making only two starts in the span of 19 days for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. Pitching coach Dan Warthen made the claim that Perez had put on weight during his absence, but Perez bristled at the allegations by his locker.

  • 4/26/2009 - After Ollie is shelled for the third time in four regular season starts, Brian Costa at the Star-Ledger discusses the Mets' options:

One easy step would be skipping his next turn, which the Mets can do because of an off day Thursday. That would give Perez time to work with pitching coach Dan Warthen on the side, and would give the Mets more time to decide on their next move. Perez could not be sent to the minors without his consent. If he is replaced in the rotation, the more likely next stop for him would be the bullpen.

Friends and family who read what I write sometimes ask if I personally despise Oliver Perez. My answer is no, I don't dislike any Met players for their on-field performance, unless they're clearly not hustling. I want nothing more than to see this team succeed and if Ollie really did become Sandy Koufax I would be ecstatic. Hating on the front office for questionable transactions? That's another story. More to come during Oliver Perez Week.

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