How bad are things for Oliver Perez?

…so bad that even his own teammates hope that the Mets sending him packing.

From the New York Post:

A day after watching Oliver Perez implode in a relief appearance against the Brewers, two disgusted Mets players told The Post yesterday it’s time management drew a line in the sand with the putrid lefty.

“You tell him you go to Triple-A or that’s it, you are finished,” one Mets player said, well aware that Perez is still owed about $20 million on the three-year contract he signed before the 2009 season.

A second Mets player echoed that line of thinking.

“At some point you have to cut bait,” he said. “You owe him a lot of money, but for what?”

Ouch. Perez is making $12 million this season and is owed $12 million next year, too. He has it written into his contract that he can block the Mets assigning him to Triple-A Buffalo, which he has already done once this season because he doesn’t think he would benefit from facing minor-league hitters.

But maybe he’ll be humbled by the comments of his teammates. He’s 0-3 with a 6.25 ERA and has struggled both as a starter and as a reliever. Putrid wouldn’t even begin to describe how bad he’s been this year and maybe he can get some of his confidence back if he pitches in the minors.

That said, if he continues to refuse minor-league demotions, then maybe his teammates are right and that the Mets should just dump him. He’s owed a ton of money, but he’s killing them every time he takes the mound and something eventually has to give. Sometimes teams just have to bite down, swallow hard and move on.

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When in doubt, go for the healthy young guy

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If you’re a fantasy baseball or football owner and you don’t read Rotoworld every day (or, in my case, several times a day), you’re not only missing out, but you may very well be costing yourself a chance at a league title. As far as free and comprehensive fantasy advice goes, nobody does it better than Rotoworld. Their player updates pull from all sorts of local and national sources and are updated throughout the day, and their columnists offer up plenty of great insight, both during the season and leading up to draft day. They even have their own draft guide, although you’ve got to pay $15 for that.

Howard Megdal (who, as far as I can tell, is new to the Rotoworld staff this season) just posted a great article about the value of youth and health on draft day:

So when I draft, I want as much predictability as possible. Therefore, my two touchstones are getting as many players in their age peak (roughly 25-30), with an added focus on injury history. Such a strategy provides no guarantees—no strategy does—but puts me in the best position to consolidate my gains. And as a bonus—a healthy player of peak age, more likely than not, is going to be a player who has that surprise season you were hoping for from the rookie, anyway.

I’m always amazed by how many owners don’t pay attention to age or injury history during their drafts, especially in the early rounds. Every year, someone drafts a guy like AJ Burnett too early, and every year Burnett goes down with some kind of injury. Go ahead and take Lance Berkman in the second round — I’ll gladly wait another round or two and snag the younger Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder. Upside, upside, upside.

Megdal goes on to target some of the likely first-rounders that he’s avoiding this year:

Ian Kinsler is another top-12 player with red flags of the white bandage variety. For the third straight season, he showed that when healthy, he is an offensive force at a position, second base, with very few of them. But he played in just 121 games, this time due to a sports hernia, and his season-high through three seasons is 130. No reason he can’t help a fantasy team—but let someone else draft his injury history first.

Also consider dropping Jimmy Rollins, who played in 137 games last season and already has back issues in spring training, and Carl Crawford, who was limited to 109 games with a finger injury last year. Crawford in particular appears to be healthy this spring—but grab the guy who just put up 150-160 games in 2008. An extra 10-15 games out of your best player could be the difference in some leagues.

Instead of Kinsler, who averaged fewer than 124 games per season from 2006-2008, how about Brandon Phillips, who has averaged around 150 games per season? Phillips is 27, suggesting that his best year may come in 2009.

I’m pretty high on both Kinsler and Phillips, as I noted in my second base preview, but while Kinsler is younger (by one year) and may arguably have a little more upside, Phillips has the much healthier track record and can be snagged a little later than Kinsler, which likely makes him the better value of the two. When you consider the premium you’ll need to pay for Kinsler (a late first or early second rounder), Phillips becomes that much more intriguing.

Megdal wisely suggests not becoming a slave to this (or any) draft strategy, because remaining too loyal to a plan could close you out of any mid- to late-round bargains that may fall into your lap. But when it comes to debating the merits of Carlos Delgado vs. Adrian Gonzalez, AJ Burnett vs. Edinson Volquez, or Carlos Lee vs. Nick Markakis, you’d be wise to go with the younger, healthier guy.

Hot Stove League: Manny Still Team-less

Among all the moves, be they trades or free agent signings, the biggest non-signing of the MLB Hot Stove off-season has been that Manny Ramirez remains without a team. Actually he hasn’t even had an offer besides the Dodgers’ two-year, $45 million offer back in November. But last night, the Dodgers and beleaguered outfielder Andruw Jones (*) parted ways, freeing up some more money on their payroll to offer Ramirez. Manny fits well on that team and with Joe Torre’s easy demeanor. And he can loaf a bit more in between raking the ball all over Dodger Stadium. We’ll see, but with the Yanks signing Mark Teixeira, and the Angels focusing on their bullpen by signing Brian Fuentes, there are less attractive options for Manny other than remaining in La La Land.

In addition to the Teixeira Fuentes signings, Randy Johnson was inked by the Giants. This works out well for the Big Unit, who wanted to play in California and can easily reach 300 victories since he currently has 295. If only Barry Zito started pitching like Oakland Barry Zito, this staff would be looking damn good right now.

So one of the problems with the stalled Jake Peavy to Chicago trade talks was that the Padres wanted infielder Mark DeRosa and Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry balked at that. Well, Hendry had no problem shipping DeRosa to Cleveland for three minor leaguers, did he? I think there is more to that Peavy story than what we’re being told. I don’t know what, but somebody doesn’t like somebody somewhere, and my guess is there is an agent in that conversation.

So Derek Lowe doesn’t want to pitch for the Mets at three years, $36 million? Are you kidding me? How is that guy worth more than $12 million per season at 35 years old? Dude apparently wants a four or five year, $90 million deal. Good luck with that, Derek. Meanwhile the Mets are turning their attention back to in-house free agents Oliver Perez and Pedro Martinez, as well as less expensive options like Jon Garland or Randy Wolf.

* Omar Minaya, if you are reading this, DO NOT invite Jones to spring training. I know the Dodgers are paying his way in 2009, but the guy can’t hit his way out of a paper bag (the stats don’t lie…..158 batting average with 76 strikeouts in just 209 at-bats). Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Hot Stove League: New York, New York (Burnett Officially Signs With Yankees)

I know this was Vegas, which comes with its own set of distractions, but come on. We all expected a lot more to happen at the MLB Winter Meetings this past week than the Yankees giving CC Sabathia the equivalent of a small planet and AJ Burnett significant real estate on said planet (the Yanks made the latter official Friday afternoon with a 5-year, $82.5 million deal), as well as the Mets signing the best closer out there (K-Rod) and trading for a second one (JJ Putz) to be their set-up guy. Unless the Orioles and Reds swapping Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Freel, or the Rays and Tigers trading Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce gets your blood flowing, it was kind of a disappointing week, especially if you live 40 miles or more outside of the New York metro area.

We still have Manny Ramirez without a team, and the very real possibility that he could just stay with the Dodgers. Really, doesn’t that make the most sense for this guy’s, um, easygoing, personality and playing style? Meanwhile, the stakes for Mark Teixeira have been upped by none other than the Washington Nationals, who are believed to be offering the free agent slugger eight years at $20 million per. That sounds to me like agent Scott Boras trying to just be Scott Boras. We all know Tex is going to wind up in Boston, Baltimore, or back with the Angels.

And as if Cubs’ fans haven’t suffered through enough misery lately, GM Jim Hendry decided to pull the plug on the Jake Peavy trade. He just didn’t want to inherit as much salary as the Padres wanted him to, and he surely didn’t want to throw Mark DeRosa on a plane to San Diego as part of the deal. Now, the Angels have been mentioned as a team that might pursue Peavy, and you definitely can’t count the Yankees out either. Oh, and by the way, the Yankees have turned their attention to in-house “old reliable” Andy Pettitte now, and have not ruled Ben Sheets or Derek Lowe out yet. Wow.

Meanwhile, the Mets spent so much on closers that they literally had nothing left to go after Lowe. Instead, GM Omar Minaya is talking to the Cubs about a trade for Jason Marquis, and/or re-signing Oliver Perez or Pedro Martinez.

There could be a lot more moves on the horizon, but in a week expected to have a lot of fireworks, the hot stove fired up in New York and nowhere else. Stay tuned though, because deals are known to happen into January, and some, like Ramirez and Teixeira signing, could lead a domino effect for more moves.

Hot Stove League: Mets Appear to Covet Everyone

The New York Mets covet _________. Those words have been uttered in every Hot Stove rumor out there, because they are more than just rumors. The Mets, who had a second straight free fall from first place in 2008, are apparently looking to fix more than their horrendous bullpen as they move into Citi Field in 2009. In no particular order, here are the players GM Omar Minaya has been talking to or about: Manny Ramirez, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez, Huston Street, Kerry Wood, Brian Fuentes, Orlando Hudson, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia (a reported shoulder injury may stall that one), Raul Ibanez, Kevin Millwood, Jermaine Dye, Rafael Furcal, Juan Cruz, Derek Lowe, Edwin Jackson, Juan Rivera and Javier Vazquez. The only one right now that appears close to reality is Furcal, as reports have filtered in that the Mets are offering a nice incentive-based deal. And Wood, who was not offered a contract by Arizona as expected, is at the bottom of the Mets’ wish list due to his injury history. Meanwhile, the Mets also do not think they can pay what Oliver Perez’ agent is asking, and there is a possibility the animated lefty could be headed to division rival Atlanta.

Jake Peavy’s on-again, off-again relationship with the Hot Stove League has continued, but now there is talk that the Cubs might make a move, along with a third team. That’s because the Cubs do not have the pitching prospect that Padres’ GM Kevin Towers is asking for.

Jason Varitek is not likely to accept salary arbitration by the Red Sox and could be headed somewhere else, possibly Detroit. Meanwhile, every team under the sun has been offering mediocre catchers to the Sox.

Andy Pettitte, who was rumored to be talking to former manager Joe Torre about pitching for the Dodgers, is talking now like he wants to stay in New York and play in the Yankees’ new stadium. Speaking of the Dodgers, they are also talking to free agents Trevor Hoffman and Randy Johnson, both on the far side of 40 years old, but both still effective.

While Aaron Heilman was as much of a disaster as a pitcher can be in New York, why is it that both the Rays and Rockies are looking to trade for him? The guy has good movement on his pitches, but proved last season that he can’t get anyone out, especially with a game on the line.

With rumors flying around (and let’s face it, they are true) that Lebron James will be traded to the Knicks or leave Cleveland as a free agent in a couple of years, there has been talk that James’ buddy CC Sabathia may take the Yanks’ offer a bit more seriously if that all happens. Hmmmm.

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