After another poor outing Saturday the Mets have said that Oliver Perez will be removed from the starting rotation. Exactly where he will be going remains up in the air. There are two obvious options: move him to the bullpen or send him to the minors to work things out.
Moving Perez to the bullpen moves him out of harms way. He’d become a long reliever who’d likely be used primarily in mop up duty until he shows he can handle more responsibility. However he’d probably not get enough work or the right kind of work to get him back on track. Also, he’s always been a pitcher who needs everything to be alright in order to succeed. Bringing him into the game in situations where things are anything but perfect (runners on base, number of outs, etc.) may only make things worse.
The option of sending him to the minors makes much more sense to me. Move him out of New York, where the media and fans examine every move he makes, to Buffalo, where his workload may be the same but his distance from the microscope would relive a lot of the pressure. In this environment, with the right tutelage, he could try to get his head straight for a few starts. This strategy worked famously with Steve Trachsel. Trachsel went 12-8 with a 3.77 ERA after a stint in the minors in late May and early June in 2001. Before the minors stint Trachsel had been 1-6 with a 8.24 ERA. So this move is not without precedent.
Though I didn’t mention it above a third option made an appearance yesterday. Despite no previous admission by the Mets or Perez, Ollie has suddenly come down with an injury to his right knee. The nature of the injury has not been disclosed but Perez was seen icing the knee yesterday and both he and manager Jerry Manuel referenced it without giving any specifics when talking to the media. This seems to indicate a trip to the disabled list via the good old manufactured injury.
I can understand this from the Mets perspective. Perez is out of options and would have to agree to a trip to the minors, which he seemed amenable to Saturday but changed his mind on Sunday. I’m not sure what Ollie’s thinking when chooses a bogus DL stint, during which he’d likely only do side work, over what could be a very helpful trip to the minors, where he would be playing in real games against real batters. But if he’s going to refuse an assignment to Buffalo the Mets have little choice but move him to the DL so they can clear a roster spot for someone who will actually get game time.
So which option do you think the Mets should take here? Vote now in the poll below.