Thursday, April 01, 2010

Adventures in Juxtaposition and the Ridiculous Mets Media Coverage

Defending Oliver Perez is one of my hobbies. Even if the ship has sailed on him becoming a great pitcher, there is still a lot of value to be had in Perez being a so called "average" pitcher. I think Perez, if healthy, is basically a lock to put up an ERA of 4.50 of better and win 10-12 games or more. A lock.

But despite what you think of him -- even when he is pitching well, this is true -- Perez gets hammered in the media. When he pitches like an almost-ace, it isn't good enough. When he pitches poorly, well, it is to be expected. When he turns in a series of good starts and then a poor one, people lament his lack of consistency. There is truly no way for Perez to "win" with the media unless he turns into a bonafide ace and never has a bad game ever.

With all of that said, it definitely caught my attention tonight when, on two consecutive pages of the New York Post, I saw the following:

Consecutive pages!! You cannot make this stuff up.

In the first article, Kernan goes on and on about how Perez has had a bad spring. And he's right. Ollie has had a rough time so far. But then Kernan continues on to say things like:

This is what the Mets should do this weekend: Take Jose Reyes north and leave Oliver Perez behind.

* * *

Numbers don’t mean much in spring training, but three home runs are telling, one to Ryan Ludwick another to Matt Holliday and a third to shortstop Brendan Ryan. Good thing King Albert Pujols wasn’t here.

The New Ollie is throwing more strikes, but they’re hittable strikes. Batters are comfortable.

It continues on in that silly, passive aggressive manner for a while. Contrast that, if you will, with the article ON THE NEXT PAGE about CC Sabathia:

If a body part was barking, the Yankees would be sweating. If there were 10 more years on the big guy, a large amount of concern would smother the Yankees’ universe.

* * *

“CC is CC, he will be fine,” Joe Girardi predicted after a misbehaving change-up and a two-seam fastball that didn’t pay attention resulted in the Braves spanking Sabathia in a 9-6 win at Champion Stadium.

* * *

Chances are strong Sabathia will be better than yesterday, when he gave up five runs and eight hits in 4 2⁄3 innings during his final spring start.

Again, numbers don’t lie — he was 1-1 with a 7.23 ERA in five spring games — but we are talking about a pitcher who is 136-81 in 288 big league games and isn’t bothered by anything on or off the field.

It's no secret that Sabathia is going to be better than Perez this year - but that is not what the articles are about. The articles are completely opposing views to the meaningfulness of spring training statistics. And like any other charged, political topic, people make their decisions based on WHO they are talking about, rather than taking a principled stand on the issue.

Truth is, if you are an established major league starter, spring training statistics don't matter. For a fringe player or a prospect, sure, you can look into them. But for a guy like Sabathia, or even Perez, the spring is a time to try new pitches, fine tune your mechanics, and practice new gameplans or sequences. The statistics mean little to nothing.

But don't tell that to Kevin Kernan. Kernan, like the other journalists circling the Mets like vultures this spring, is more interested in getting people to read his articles than reporting responsibly (or writing complete sentences).

The journalists covering the Mets should be taking the high road here. Instead of piling on a player who is a popular target on a team associated with failure, maybe he should listen to this guy:

Everyone wants instant analysis and an instant fix. Spring training is still run the old fashioned way. Results don’t matter. It is a time to get in game shape, get your legs under you, have some fun with your teammates and then work into a groove.

Sounds reasonable, right? Author? Kevin Kernan, March 9, 2010.


Hector Perez said...

I have often defended Oliver Perez and will continue to do so. And it's not simply because he shares my last name. No, it's simply because Oliver has always been the victim of his own success. When he's good, he's simply dominant. Didn't Barry Bonds say that Oliver Perez was one of the hardest pitchers in baseball to hit?

I'll never forget game 7 2006. Oliver was the replacement pitcher after having a 6 ERA in the regular season. And from the beginning he came in dealing. From a pop psychology perspective, it's almost like Oliver thrives on being underestimated (last year an aberration). I will say this--early in the season Oliver did not benefit from being a lefty fly ball pitcher and having Daniel Murphy in left.

Now he's the #5 and he'll be very very good. 4.20 ERA, which may very well be second best on our team depending on the team defensive efficiency behind Pelfrey.

Noah said...

I don't know if I'd refer to him as a "lock" to go 10-12 and 4.50 (especially considering his career ERA is a hair higher at 4.54). A agree with the commenter (with my fingers crossed) that the 5 spot will help him.

Regarding spring training results, there is a difference between CC and Ollie. CC has nothing to prove; his credentials are in his past stats. Ollie is quite unpredictable and returning from injury. That said, spring training results don't translate to rational season expectations.