Tuesday, August 3, 2010
#744) OLIVER PEREZ
Oliver Perez was traded along with Roberto Hernandez by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the New York Mets in exchange for Xavier Nady on July 31, 2006. The move was made in response to the club losing valued relief pitcher, Duaner Sanchez to a shoulder injury suffered during a traffic accident in a New York taxi. Acquiring Hernandez was the focus of the trade, and not the once promising Perez. A major-league strikeout leader who had been pitching in Triple-A Indianapolis and was initially assigned to Norfolk by his new team. "He has some upside," Mets General Manager Omar Minaya said at the time. "We think Perez has some potential to be turned around."
"Ollie" made his New York Mets debut on August 26, 2006. The left-hander from Mexico, gave a glimpse of what his talent was capable of when he threw a complete game shutout facing the Atlanta Braves on September 6th. "That was the game that was needed," Perez explained. "I know I was having a lot of problems. This game is very good for me." Oliver ended the season for the National League Eastern Division Champions with mixed results. Injuries to Orlando Hernandez and Pedro Martinez forced the Mets to add Perez to the postseason rotation. He responded with pitching New York to a victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. "Everybody is excited to play in a game that can get you to the World Series," Oliver said following that performance. "This is what we play for. I just want to go out there for the team and do my best." In a strange turn of events it would be Perez to take the ball at Shea Stadium for the deciding Game 7 of that series. Ollie would pitch superbly, alowing only one earned run in six innings, but New York would lose the contest 3-1.
The next season appeared to be a turning point for Oliver Perez. He established himself as the team's most consistent starting pitcher and led the staff with 15 wins. His wildness too seemed harnessed when he only allowed 79 walks in his 177 innings pitched. Although the Mets faltered and the team failed to make the postseason it was Oliver who was a winner. He became one of the few players to ever enter an arbitration hearing in team history. After presenting his case Perez was awarded a $6.5 million dollar salary for 2008. The verdict produced a nearly 200 percent increase over the previous year. "I know it's a business," Ollie commented after the hearing. "That stuff is outside the game. Both sides have a job to do. There are no hard feelings."
Perez returned to his inconsistent ways during the 2008 campaign. His record of 10-7 was filled with many big innings and saw him leading the National League in walks allowed with 105. After having the honor of starting the home opener during the last year of Shea Stadium he was also on the mound for what proved to be the final game there. Pitching on short rest Oliver took a two-hit shutout into the sixth inning facing the Florida Marlins. His fortunes changed quickly when the first run scored on a pair of hits. Perez was then lifted during that same inning with the base loaded and one out. The Mets' relievers would surrender two more runs in the 4-2 loss on September 28, 2008. Ending the Shea Era.
Oliver Perez signed his card in the set for me before the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field on September 4, 2010.