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Why Did the Mets Pick Perez Over Lowe?

Yes, we really asking that as a question because, to be honest, we have absolutely no idea why they did. Believe it or not, the terms of the two starters' contracts are a lot closer than you may think.

Lowe's new deal with the Braves calls for $60 million over four years, spread evenly into $15 million increments. And what is Perez getting from the Mets? $36 million over three years, likewise spread evenly. That's a difference of $3 million.

So, for $3 million, the Mets could have a playoff-tested pitcher with four years in the National League with an ERA below 4 (12 wins, 16 wins, 12 wins, 14 years), as opposed to Perez, who is a combined 26-20 since he landed with the Mets in late 2006. Oh, and his ERAs waffled from 6.38 to 4.22. Good times.

The difference in the pitchers' styles is striking, but the results are equally at odds. Perez is often lauded for his high strikeout counts, a stat which obscures the high total of home runs and walks he allows. Lowe, on the other hand, is a sinkerballer who puts tons of balls in play and trusts his defense. He'll give up the occasional homer, but he's no Oliver Perez.

So, is Omar Minaya honestly trying to tell us that Perez is within $3 million of the pitcher that Derek Lowe is? Really? Shouldn't Lowe's consistency alone be worth more than that?

But wait, there's more. Minaya could use the predictable, "we just didn't have that $3 million" defense. That may be true, but there are ways he could have worked around it. For starters, all of these players, signed by Minaya, could have been not signed -- or in the case of Church, traded -- to save the money:

  • Ryan Church, one-year deal, $2.8 million (there's your $3 million right there)
  • Tim Redding, one-year deal, $2.25 million (we don't even know if he'll beat out Freddy Garcia for the Mets' final rotation spot)
  • Freddy Garcia, one-year deal $1.5 million (it's not Redding money, but there's half of the difference to Lowe right there)
  • Fernando Tatis, one-year deal, $2.2 million (see under Ryan Church, because one of these guys won't play)
  • Alex Cora, one-year deal, $2 million (he's the team's backup, utility infielder, and he's making $2 million. Couldn't they find a minor league infielder to do that?)

To be fair, it's not like Lowe and Perez's deals are exactly even. After all, Lowe isn't just getting an additional $3 million per year, he's also getting an additional year. That being said, it still seems like an incredibly cheap approach to the Mets' first year in a new stadium, with a team coming off two of baseball's more dramatic collapses in consecutive seasons.

Thoughts? Am I going way to far here? Or am I right thinking that the Mets may have mortgaged obvious NL East front-runner status for $3 million?

By Cameron Smith  |  February 2, 2009; 7:31 PM ET
Categories:  Braves , Mets  
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Next: New Ramirez Offer, Same Ramirez Result


Selig gets 17.5 million a year to do exactly WHAT???????????

Posted by: johnbear1 | February 2, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

3 years $36 million for a 27 year old lefty with a 96 career ERA+ coming off a perfectly league average year or 4 years $60 million for a 36 year old righty with a 122 career ERA+ coming off a 131 ERA+.

Oliver Perez has managed to turn his 1 good year into an insane amount of money, and good for him. He's solid proof that 1) scouts drool over talent 2) coaches think they can fix everything that's wrong with players and 3) lefties will always be valued more than righties.

The guy walks over 4 per 9 innings for his career. Yeah he strikes out more than 1 per inning but his K:BB isn't even 2:1. But hey, in my MLB 2K5, he's awesome in my rotation. Filthy slider and fastball. And I root for him because he has some good stuff and had a great year on my fantasy team, but he's just not worth $12/yr in my book.

If he were the first pitcher signed this offseason his contract would be like Darren Dreifort's was in 2001.

Lowe doesn't have the sexy numbers Perez does, but he racks up the innings, doesn't let people on base and keeps you in ball games and can be downright dominant. That's exactly what you want.

And johnbear1, what does Selig's pay have to do with anything?

Posted by: adampschroeder | February 2, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

The Mets really wanted Lowe, but didn't want to pay $60 million for years 36-40 for a guy who, at his best, was a solid #2 pitcher. So they settled on Perez, giving $36 million for years 27-30. Yes it's a bit of a gamble, but it was the best option out there once Lowe signed. And it's still a relatively short term deal. Fairly reasonable, given some of the contracts handed out in the past (e.g., Carlos Silva). As a big market team, they were more concerned about the years than the dollars.

As for the other points - the Mets don't want Redding to beat out Garcia for the #5 spot. The ideal situation is Garcia makes the rotation, Redding becomes the long man in the 'pen (which he is amenable to) and Niese goes to Triple-A. When everyone's healthy, Church and Tatis have nothing to do with each other. Church will play RF and Tatis will platoon in left with Daniel Murphy. And Cora will end up playing more than most utility IFs with Castillo as the starting 2B.

Posted by: bk2004 | February 3, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

8 years younger, throws with the south paw, demands less money -- I think Omar knows what he is doing.

Posted by: dfh123 | February 3, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

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