Monday, February 23, 2009

Where in the World is Odalis Perez?

Talk about going AWOL.

First, Odalis signed a very questionable minor league contract with the Nationals. I, like many others, was stunned to see that Perez was forced to sign a minor league deal given the market for starting pitching and the season he put together in 2008. While Perez's statistics were far from spectacular, he still put up good enough numbers to be an effective #5 starter on most teams (4.34 ERA, 159 IP, 122 K).

I admit that there are plenty of flaws in Perez's game: high WHIP (1.484 in '08), lots of HRs given up (22 in '08), but there is no reason why he should have had to settle for a minor league contract. Hell, even Mark Hendrickson, who could not even stay in the Marlins starting rotation last season, got a major league deal. Even though the market was greatly depressed, there is always demand for quality starting pitchers, even those of Perez's caliber.

Side note: Perez's agent should be fired for only getting him a minor league deal.

Right before spring training, Perez finally got the memo that a minor league contract was stupid. He could have done better. He should have done better. So what did Perez do? He demanded a guaranteed contract that would have given him security. Problem is, Perez already had agreed to the original contract. Ooops.

Perez then did the only thing he could to protest the atrocity of the Perez and his agent agreeing to only a minor league deal: he went AWOL. Perez failed to report to spring training and despite the Nationals attempts to reach him, Perez has failed to pick up his phone. What a guy.

And with that, the Nationals decided to release Perez today. Good for them. They did not need a headcase like Perez around. The last thing the Nationals needed right now was another distraction. Even if the contract was less than he deserved, Perez still agreed to terms and should have shown up. Plain and simple.

But the interesting facet to the Perez story is that by getting his release, Perez will now probably be in line for a major league contract with someone. There are plenty of teams out there that still need starting pitchers (Astros, Cardinals, Athletics, Pirates, Orioles, Rangers, etc). It's not out of the realm of possibility for Perez to actually benefit from his childish behavior, especially if he performs well in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

I know for sure that I would not want a guy like Perez on my team. But since pitching doesn't grow on trees, I'm sure the phone will quickly begin ringing for long as he still remembers to pick up the phone.

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