Mets Celebrate Spring by Releasing Perez

Perez was a lightning rod for unhappy fans

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    It's the first day of spring and the Mets are using it as a day of rebirth after a long cold winter.

    In a move that was as inevitable as it was overdue, Oliver Perez, scourge of Queens and representative of everything that's gone wrong for the Mets over the last few years, walked the plank on Monday morning.

    The move comes days after the Mets sent Luis Castillo packing and completes a double dose of good PR for a team that has had very little of it since Carlos Beltran watched Adam Wainwright's curveball end the 2006 National League Championship Series

    Castillo left town in a snit, upset over the fact that the Mets didn't really seem to want him to win the second base job. Perez, much more aware of the larger situation than his former teammate, had very little bad to say about the team after they gave him the bad news

    "I think they gave me an opportunity," Perez said. "They were fair with me when I came here. 'We're going to give you an opportunity to be a starter.' I didn't do anything great. They moved me to the bullpen trying to be a lefty specialist. And the last game, that was a real horrible job."

    Indeed it was. On Saturday against the Nationals, Perez gave up back-to-back home runs and walked a left-handed hitter in what was a fitting end to his star-crossed tenure with the Mets.

    It started well as Perez helped the team in the 2006 playoffs and led them with 15 wins in the 2007 season.

    He started backsliding in 2008, leading the National League in walks, but still got a three-year, $36 million contract from Omar Minaya in the offseason.

    That's when it went downhill. Perez went 3-9 with a 6.81 ERA over the last two seasons.

    The departures of Perez and Castillo, who signed with the Phillies on Monday, won't do much to help the Mets on the field.

    If you thought they figured to lose a lot of games with them, that prediction doesn't change with their departure. It does wonders for the attitude around the team, though. 

    For a variety of reasons, the Mets are dealing with a fan base that needs reasons to buy back into the team.

    Getting rid of players who do nothing but agitate the natives is a small but necessary step in that direction. Sandy Alderson has much more to do, but he's earned some time to make those moves by finally admitting the dual mistakes that were polluting the entire organization.