When we last left you, the Mets had swept the Phillies with three shutouts and stood just two games behind them. All was well. All was warm. A three-game series with the struggling Brewers awaited, with Johan Santana waiting to kick it off. Four days later, the Mets are back at .500, tied for last place, and flirting with discord again. Your old friend is back in town again, and he’s asking to borrow money.
Last night was the nadir of this little swoon, an 18–6 shellacking by the first-place Padres. That was the official end of the Hisanori Takahashi Jehovah story line; he gave up six runs in four innings, though of course the Padres were just warming up. The real pain came late, when Oliver Perez, in his bullpen Siberia, came in with the Mets down 15–6. He let in three more runs, which is not helping his case as he insists on refusing to be sent down to the minors.
(A brief note on that: Oliver Perez is obviously a lousy pitcher, and even more obviously a wretched contract. But he is under no obligation to accept an assignment to the Minor Leagues and is not a bad person for refusing to do so. We have a system set up for Major League Baseball that gives veterans, after a certain amount of time in the Bigs, the right to stay in the majors unless the team they’re on cuts them. Many unions fought for a long time for that right. If the Mets really wanted him off their roster, they could cut him. Perez has control over his future right now, control he wouldn’t have if he agreed to be sent down. He did not point a gun at Omar Minaya’s head to make Omar give him that contract.)
Anyway, the Mets are four games out and the bad vibes have returned. (The Daily News had a fun wayback machine piece with sources denying that the Mets were this close to firing Jerry Manuel a couple of weeks ago.) Don’t worry. Just wait a couple of days.