Mar 21

Perez error over

GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins closed the door this morning on the Mets’ career of Oliver Perez, arguably one of the most scored players in franchise history when they released the frustratingly erratic pitcher known as Coin Flip.

There were no 50-50 odds on Perez when spring training began and giving up back-to-back homers in a relief outing over the weekend was the final image of him in a Mets’ uniform.

PEREZ: We rarely saw him celebrate.

Perez is now free to pass GO, collect $12 million and sign with any team for the major league minimum. For those counting at home, that would be an additional $414,500.

I don’t begrudge Perez the money like some. Afterall, nobody put a gun to then GM Omar MInaya and forced him to offer Perez that contract. What was Perez supposed to do, turn it down?

What annoys me most about Perez is not that he lost his fastball, or never had command. That happens. It’s part of baseball. What was most upsetting about the Perez era was how things were handled last season. Perez said frequently this spring he is trying to get better every time he pitches. It’s the proper thing to say, but rings hollow after last summer.

When it became clear he was losing it, Perez refused to take the minor league assignment that could have helped his mechanics. There was no guarantee, but he had a better chance working things out in the minors than by languishing in the bullpen by himself as the Mets played with a 24-man roster.

Just because it was Perez’s contractual right to refuse the assignment, it doesn’t make it the right thing to do. And, it certainly contradicted Perez’s statements on self-improvement.

The Perez saga paralyzed a reeling team and he became a symbol of all that was wrong and subsequently a pariah in the clubhouse. Nobody denied Perez put the effort in, but there was groaning about playing short and he deprived another player a chance to play. As the losses mounted, it was hard to find supporters in the clubhouse, especially after the bullpen coughed up another game.

Perez made Jerry Manuel’s job more difficult, and with the manager knowing he’d be fired, his parting gift to the Mets – and the fans who booed him – was to give them one last glimpse of the erratic left-hander who put himself ahead of the team. After barely pitching in the second half, there was little doubt he would give it up one more time, and it was symbolically fitting Perez would lose the final game of a lost season.

After Luis Castillo was given his release – he has since been signed by Philadelphia – Alderson said the decision in part was made by the negativity that swirled around him and his perception by Mets fans. The perception of Perez is far worse because the sum is greater and that he represents wasted potential and the disaster that has been the last three seasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 20

Waiting out the Mets

ESPN is reporting the Phillies are close to signing Luis Castillo to fill in for the injured Chase Utley. If not the Phillies, it would be somebody else. The same goes for Oliver Perez when the Mets finally release him, presumably on Monday.

There was no chance the Mets had of trading either because teams knew they were dealing from a position of strength with Sandy Alderson. There is no reason for any team to offer a player to the Mets when they know they could wait them out and just sign them when they were cut loose. More importantly, by waiting out the Mets the new team wouldn’t assume those contracts, but only be responsible for the major league minimum of $414,500.

Sandy Alderson admitted Castillo was released in large part because of his perception by Mets’ fans. The same reasoning will also apply when it comes to Perez. Alderson and manager Terry Collins will meet Monday to discuss Perez’s fate. After giving up back-to-back homers Saturday, the inevitable is probably hours away.

 

Mar 18

Mets drop Castillo like that pop-up

The inevitable finally occurred..

Luis Castillo, who wasn’t having a bad spring offensively, was finally released today. However, staying with the Mets, unless somebody picks him up, will be the $6 million the club owns him.

CASTILLO: The play that defined his Met career.

The Wilpons frequently have been criticized for refusing to eat bad contracts and there was speculation Castillo might stick. I thought he’d at least last the weekend.

However, in the end, the negativity Castillo brought, his declining defensive ability and the belief he wasn’t much better – if at all than his competition – were the overriding factors in ridding the organization of one of its most scorned players in its history.

Sandy Alderson made the announcement: “After a long evaluation during spring training, after consulting with [manager] Terry [Collins] and the coaching staff, I made a recommendation to ownership in the best interest of the organization and Louie that he be released. Ownership approved.’’

Indeed, the culture has changed.

Collins was never enamored with Castillo, starting for his failure to notify the manager he wouldn’t report early because of a family emergency. A simple phone call could have diffused things.

Twice Castillo reported to spring training out of shape. There were times he didn’t hustle, including this week when he failed to cover first base. His defense and range were in decline. He was injury prone. He had one good season with the bat, hardly enough to justify the four-year, $24 million contract former GM Omar Minaya awarded him.

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Mar 17

Parnell working on slider

Though nothing official has been said, Bobby Parnell will be the eighth-inning set-up reliever, even if he’s not convinced himself.

“Nobody has told me what I’ll be doing,’’ said Parnell before leaving for spring training. Even now, after a solid spring and no apparent competition, he’s not convinced.

PARNELL: The future closer.

“I still feel like I’m fighting for it,’’ he told reporters yesterday. “I would say that I have a better shot this year than I did last year. Last year, everything was still up in the air _ I was still fighting for a spot, I didn’t really know what was going on.’’

Two years ago, the Mets gave Parnell a handful of starts, but he fizzled and then manager Jerry Manuel gave up on him. No regrets, said Parnell, who said he the experience was beneficial.

“It was a good thing,’’ Parnell recently told me. “It gave me a chance to work on other pitches. I know you can’t get by one pitch, that being a 98 mph. fastball that sometimes touch triple digits.

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Mar 16

Mets’ roster has remaining issues

HARRIS: Will play is Beltran opens on DL

With spring training down to a couple of weeks after today’s loss to Minnesota, the Mets are still trying to final situations in right field, second baseball, the bullpen and in the rotation.

 

All of these will be filled with those players already in camp.

RIGHT FIELD

Carlos Beltran has been cleared to resume baseball activities, but probably won’t play until next week, which would leave a week of games until Opening Day. However, with the Mets wanting to ease him back, it’s realistic to figure he might not be ready.

Currently, he’s limited to batting practice and doesn’t know when he’ll test his knees by playing the field or running the bases.

Should Beltran open the season on the disabled list, Willie Harris would probably get the start, but manager Terry Collins could go to a platoon system with Scott Hairston.

That would make Lucas Duda the odd-man out because the Mets want him to get consistent at-bats. The way he could stick would be if Beltran were to open on the disabled list. Beltran says he’ll be ready, but the time frame suggests otherwise.

SECOND BASE

Nobody wants Luis Castillo, but he’s playing the best offensively and is not ahead of the others defensively. Castillo can turn the double play better than the others but has limited range. It’s not totally out of the question Castillo would stick if the Mets find it distasteful to eat his $6 million contract.

Luis Hernandez has emerged, perhaps as the front-runner as has been reported, primarily because nobody has stepped to the forefront. Hernandez can play the position and isn’t a liability with the bat, but it’s not as if he’s blowing away the field.

Ideally, they would have liked for Daniel Murphy to grasp the position defensively, but that hasn’t happened, especially when it comes to the double play. Murphy should still make the team as a left-handed bat off the bench.

The Mets like the potential of Brad Emaus, but he’s not hitting and hasn’t made up for it with his glove. An Emaus-Murphy platoon isn’t out of the question should the Mets not want to return the Rule 5 Emaus to Toronto.

The only sure thing at second base is the return of Justin Turner to the minor leagues because he has remaining options.

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