If the Mets weren’t getting renaissance pitching from R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi (can’t believe I’m typing this), this season would not be as exciting as it has been. In the offseason, much of the skepticism about the 2010 Mets was directed at their pitching staff. Would Mike Pelfrey become a solid number two? How would John Maine bounce back from injury? Will Oliver Perez ever live up to his potential and his contract? We now know that only one of those starters has a future in New York.
With that said, where does Oliver’s hefty contract rank among the worst signings in Mets history? Oliver was traded as a throw in from the Pirates in ’06 when Duaner Sanchez, a dominant setup man at the time, went down for the season. After watching Perez pitch game 7 of the NLCS, we all saw the trade as a steal. We received a young lefty with the ability to dominate when he maintained his control. Losing Xavier Nady’s bat wasn’t easy, but Perez was more than needed come playoff time. From 2007-2008 Ollie was as unpredictable as any starter in Mets history. Nonetheless, The Mets inked him to a 3-year $36 million dollar contract on the second of February 2009. Since that signing, Oliver Perez has been a nightmare. He posted a 3-4 record last year with a 6.82 ERA, and this year he has somehow managed to do worse going 0-3 with his ERA again over 6. If that wasn’t enough, Ollie has refused assignment to Triple-A and ticked off his teammates and manager. The team had no choice but to shed the dead weight by putting Perez on the DL with what could very well be a phantom injury. With the Mets playing so well, it seems like a great time to laugh at some of the signing blunders of years past. With Ike Davis launching homeruns to the Shea Bridge and David Wright raking in RBIs nightly, we are all ready to believe again. So let’s look back at the players who tested our patience and had us launching TV remote controls across the living room.
Gilkey came to The Mets after a trade with St. Louis and became a full-time player in New York. His 1996 season was a revelation as Bernard batted .317 with 30 homers and 117 RBIs. The Mets believed they had a left fielder to build around and gave Gilkey $20 million dollars. Gilkey soon came back down to earth and had a terrible showing in ’97 where he hit just .249 with 18 homers and 78 RBIs. His tenure in Queens ended just a year and a half after he received his big raise.
In the ’80s, Coleman was a premier base stealer for the St. Louis Cardinals. He stole over 100 bases in 3 consecutive seasons from ’85-’87 and was the only player to ever do so. After the 1990 season, The Mets signed Coleman to a four year deal. There was much excitement and celebration from the fans, and rightfully so. Coleman had been as dangerous a base stealer as anyone in the game with Rickey Henderson being the only exception. His time in flushing was injury plagued, troublesome, and downright disappointing. He never played more than 100 games in a season for the team and his highest stolen base total was 38 in 1993. Not only did he under perform, but he also took part in some of the most bizarre happenings in Met history. In 1993, Coleman accidentally injured Dwight Gooden’s arm by swinging a golf club around in the clubhouse. Only a few months later, he threw a lit firecracker into a crowd of Met fans. The incident injured several people including two young boys. The Mets had seen enough and Coleman was told to take the rest of the year off to deal with legal trouble from the incident.
The poster boy for “The Worst Team Money Could Buy”, The Mets made Bonilla the highest paid player in the game in ’92. Bringing in the ex-Pirate bopper made many predict The Mets to be a contender that year. “Bobby Bo” would help usher The Mets into the baseball dark ages and they wouldn’t emerge for almost a decade. In his first season, Bonilla batted .249 with 19 homers and 70 RBIs. He received the labels of “lazy” and “selfish” and was soon trying to fist fight Bob Klapisch. Bonilla would never have over 100 RBIs in a season with the team and was part of an overpaid ensemble which also included Bret Saberhagen.
Oliver Perez refusing to go to Triple-A to work on his issues helps earn him a spot next to these guys. Luckily for us fans, The Mets have been playing inspired baseball, and Ollie is far from our minds. Nevertheless, it is still an interesting question to present: Where does Oliver Perez rank on the worst signings in Mets history?