So, whenever the Mets are down nine runs in the sixth inning of a game, you can be sure that Perez will be near. And he actually didn't pitch half-bad if you grade on a scale that includes only Oliver Perez as a frame of reference. He gave up four hits, one walk and two runs over the final two-and-two-thirds as the Mets stumbled to their third loss in the first four games of a road trip that has brought them hurtling back to Earth after their rousing home stand.
It was a bad night all around, starting with Hisanori Takahashi's first poor start in three tries. He didn't get crushed, but the Padres clearly watched some tape and figured out that they needed to stay back on his breaking stuff and make Takahashi beat them with more than just deception and changing speeds. If he can adjust to a league that now has a book on him, the lefty should be fine going forward. The same can't be said of Perez.
His role on the team is threatening to become the same kind of distraction that the Knicks have had with Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry and Jerome James in recent years. A massive salary makes it impossible to trade the player while their complete ineptitude makes it impossible to play them without infuriating the players who actually deserve to be on the field.
The Mets now have players telling the press Perez needs to go and Jerry Manuel is even scoring points off of him when asked if Perez's presence is hurting the team.
"Only if we need a long reliever."
You have to hope that someone finds a way to reach Perez and tell him that going to the minors is what is best for him and for the team right now. It may be satisfying to imagine the team simply firing Perez but the simple fact is that they'd prefer to pay him $20 million to work for them. It may all be a sunk cost in the end, but Triple-A teams need guys to fill out rotations and it might as well be Perez.
As for Perez, the benefits are clear. No other team is going to hand him a rotation spot without a trip to the minors and no other team is as vested in getting something out of Perez as the Mets.
Keeping egg off your face can be a powerful motivation even if Perez seems fine walking around with an omelette for a mustache.