Thursday, January 19, 2012

Strikeless In Seattle

In case you missed it, former Met "pitcher" Oliver Perez signed a minor league deal with the Seattle Mariners yesterday.  That cheer you heard from the Pacific Northwest was from Starbucks, who can now blame people's jitters on Perez's performances instead of their highly-caffeinated drinks.

Last year, the Mets paid Perez nearly $12 million to play minor league ball in the Washington Nationals' organization.  In 15 starts for AA-Harrisburg, Perez went 3-5 with a 3.09 ERA.  The usually erratic Perez found his control in Double-A, as he walked 27 batters in 75⅔ innings for Harrisburg.  However, Perez has not won a game in the majors since August 18, 2009, or 44 walks ago.

We're not sure why the Mariners chose to sign Ollie, but perhaps it has something to do with their recent left-handed pitching acquisitions.

In 2007, southpaw Erik Bedard had a spectacular season for the Baltimore Orioles, going 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA and 221 strikeouts.   That off-season, the Mariners sent five players to Baltimore to acquire Bedard and he rewarded his new team by winning 15 games.  Unfortunately, it took him four years to collect those 15 victories, as repeated trips to the disabled list held Bedard to six wins in 2008, five wins in 2009, no wins in 2010 (Bedard missed the entire 2010 due to injury) and four wins in 2011.

Following the 2009 season, the Mariners went shopping for another lefty, Cliff Lee.  Lee had just helped the Phillies advance to the World Series, dominating opposing hitters along the way.  Naturally, the Mariners traded three young players to Philadelphia for Lee, hoping he'd bring sunnier days to Seattle.  Lee won a total of eight games as a Mariner, as he spent the first month of the 2010 season on the disabled list and was traded to Seattle's division rival in Texas, where he helped the Rangers advance to their first World Series.

Every two years, the Mariners try to bring in a lefty who has just completed a tremendous season.  They did it after the 2007 season and went back for seconds in 2009.  Now that the 2011 season has been tucked away, it's time for them to strike again.  But since Bedard and Lee weren't able to repeat their previous successes after becoming Mariners, perhaps all Seattle needed to do was sign a southpaw who had no expectations; someone who had fallen so far off the radar that even the Nationals didn't feel he was good enough for their Double-A team.

Seattle hasn't made the playoffs in over a decade.  They've tried to improve their team by adding quality left-handed starters to pitch in spacious Safeco Field.  That hasn't worked.  So they added Oliver Perez instead.

It could be worse.  They could have signed Aaron Heilman as well.  Oh, wait.  They did.

So the Mariners' minor league system will now have the pitcher who threw the first pitch in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and the pitcher who threw the worst pitch in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.  Looks like the road to the major leagues has just been made easier for all of the other pitching prospects in the Mariners' system.

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