Oliver Perez Won’t Cost Any Prospects?

One of the most valuable words they teach in you J-School is “allege,” which has been twisted by pop culture such that people think it’s merely a word that defense attorneys use at press conferences.

It means to assert without proof.

Allegedly, the signing of Oliver Perez won’t cost any prospects any innings. Yet he’s reportedly going to start the season at AAA. Both statements cannot be true, so let me explain why. In other words, I’m going to present some proof.

As we discussed yesterday, it appears that option status is going to send a few pitchers to Syracuse. Two of those pitchers are starters. One of them is Yunesky Maya, considered the #11 prospect in the organization according to Baseball America. The other is Ross Detwiler, a former prospect by the definition of him no longer having rookie status, but a promising young pitcher nevertheless.

Would it be unfair to assume those two are in the Syracuse starting rotation? I think not.

1. Detwiler
2. Maya

A favorite here, and the Nationals Minor League pitcher of the year for 2010, is Tom Milone. The 24-year-old lefty is also the #16 man in the Nats org, according to BA. Ten and eleven spots back of him are Ryan Tatusko and Brad Meyers. While both do turn 26 this year, they are still prospects.

1. Detwiler
2. Maya
3. Milone
4. Tatusko
5. Meyers

Thus, before you even cross into AAAA territory, you’ve got a full rotation on Opening Day with four of the Nats Top 30 prospects. And even when you do cross that prospect/4A border, each of these men is younger than Oliver Perez, who turns 30 in August. Here’s a look at them listed from youngest (turning 24 a week from yesterday) to oldest (turning 28 in June)

Shairon Martis
Luis Atilano
Garrett Mock
Matt Chico

And that’s not even including two organizational guys (Erik Arnesen and Jeff Mandel) that could conceivably lose their jobs or go back to Harrisburg, a place that’s expected to host BA-ranked prospects Danny Rosenbaum and Trevor Holder at the outset and Sammy Solis by midseason, joining the #10 man Brad Peacock.

If Perez is assigned to Syracuse, he’s going to cost one of those six men playing time, if not a job.

So does that mean Perez is going to become a reliever? Even if that were true, here’s a peek at some of the names we may see to start the season in Syracuse.

Collin Balester
Craig Stammen
Adam Carr
Cole Kimball
Josh Wilkie

And that’s not including either of the MLB-phase Rule 5 pickups or Harrisburg relievers such as Rafael Martin and Hassan Pena, who was the #30 guy on the BA list and was said to have picked up his fastball in the Puerto Rican winter leagues this past offseason. Not to mention, the likes of Tim Wood, Lee Hyde, Harvey Garcia, or Adam Olbrychowski. While it’s doubtful that at least two of those last three names will be sent down, it could send the third down or out.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, but the point I am trying to make here still remains… signing Oliver Perez and assigning him to a full-season affiliate to start 2011 is going to cost a prospect somehow, some way. It may be merely innings, it may be taking a step back in the chain, or it could mean a release. But to claim otherwise is simply foolish.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of NationalsProspects.com. Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

23 thoughts on “Oliver Perez Won’t Cost Any Prospects?”

  1. Pleading ignorance here in advance; I do not know how the instructional league works. That said, could Perez stay in Florida and work with Spin Williams instead of going straight to a club?

    1. Yes, they call that Extended Spring Training (XST) and my initial joke on Twitter was “Well, there’s room in Auburn,” which in years past meant being assigned to the Vermont roster. Then, when the Spin Williams connection was revealed, it was “Off to the GCL!”

      But then the beat writers starting talking about him starting at AAA and questioning the effect to the system, intimating that it wouldn’t take anything away from anybody, which is simply not true if he’s not put in XST.

      It’s one thing to defend the signing as a low-risk move, but it’s quite another to claim that it’s low-effect because as I outlined above, it’s not.

      1. Sue_D: They could always stash him in Potomac, like they did with Jesse Estrada last season; Then we’d both really have something to rage about!

  2. That probably should have read, “Why was he assigned to Syracuse immediately? Was staying in camp and working with Williams not an option?”

    1. A to 1st Q: Procedural — Has to be put somewhere and the roster limits don’t apply yet.

      A to 2nd Q: It is, and there’s still hope that that’s what will happen.

      But sometimes we gotta take those “talk radio” pegs and hang a story on them 😉

  3. So signing Oliver Perez may cost Garrett Mock innings, if not his job? Where’s the downside in that?

    1. If it were that simple, probably none, but any innings Perez pitches at AAA at this stage of season are innings that a more promising pitcher isn’t. And painful as this is to write, that may very well include Garrett Mock. The dynamic changes dramatically if Perez stays behind in XST for a few weeks and then gets a chance to pitch.

  4. For what little it’s worth, I had not heard the allegation to which this post is responding. Perhaps it would have been useful to link to someone?

    Even without that, of course, your point can stand on its own.

    1. I didn’t want to single anyone out because the sentiment was expressed by more than one person in more than one way on more than one medium. I’m not looking to fisk someone “Fire Joe Morgan” style, I’m looking to express the opinion that this move is not without effect.

      1. In the end it could just be an “extended tryout” leading to a release? When you’re as short of quality starting pitching as the Nats desperation apparently tends to find a gallows height upon which to roost.

        The Nats have some pretty smart baseball folks in house and they have to know that the top 3 starters Riggleman has picked for his rotation almost guarantee a last place finish. Can this team withstand another 90+-100+ loss season?

        I suspect Rizzo is thinking / planning in advance to mitigate this apparent looming catastrophe as much as he can?

  5. I’ve read this blog a lot as someone who follows baseball closely including the Nats and agree with you 99% of the time. This is part of the 1%.

    While I agree and am very intrigued to see how Bones does in AAA, Martis/Atilano/Mock/Chico are just organizational depth. They are #6-7 starters and nothing they’ve ever done will say they’ll be anything more. Even Detwiler and Maya don’t have the upside to be Perez.

    Perez on the other hand has shown he can be a legitimate #2 or #3 starter in the majors. It’s obvious his problems are mental probably with being lazy after getting his big contract not helping matters. In fact, if you look at the organization only J Zimm and Stras are guys even have the ability to ever be where Perez once was.

    1. Thing is, your comment made me realize that I had forgotten to list Meyers as the 5th man in the starting rotation. The peg for this story is the idea of Perez starting the year in AAA, i.e. 2 weeks from now. I don’t see him becoming a dramatically better pitcher in that timeframe. As I commented earlier, the dynamic changes dramatically if Perez is sent to XST and is then assigned somewhere else even as soon as 3-4 weeks from now. The current story is that he’ll break camp with Syracuse.

      1. But using the term ‘prospects’ to describe guys like Martis is really a reach. They are just filler so who cares if they start the year in long relief. I’m sure it was part of the deal that Perez didn’t want to go to XST.

        My main point is you have a lottery ticket with Perez. He might be a complete zero but he could also be a very good starter. Martis and guys like him are kinda just like small investments that you might need to use at some point but will never be anything special.

        Meyers will start in AA. He barely pitched last year.

        1. But using the term ‘prospects’ to describe guys like Martis is really a reach.

          True, which is why I didn’t, describing Martis/Mock/Atilano/Chico as AAAA players.

          1. Upon further reflection, that may have been a bit too harsh… sorry. You might be right about Meyers, though I actually did see him pitch in my trip to Harrisburg last May and he did look good.

        2. The problem with Perez is that he apparently never fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered in 2009. His loss of velocity and control date back to that point. Many think pitching is all in the arm but probably as much as 50% or more come from the legs and core. Legs are absolutely critical.

          Now it is possible the guy didn’t bother to build up his leg muscles as he should have. With knee surgeries both legs will atrophy. If you don’t keep after them you won’t come back with the same strength or flexibility.

          Is it laziness, lack of motivation and drive? Non competitiveness?

          Just from what I’ve read, it sure seems like Perez needs a whole heck of a lot of time in that weight room in Frederick with those personal trainers Zim uses. Or with the guys Morse, Bernadina, and Werth use? Does he even have a good personal trainer or does he just sit around drinking Coronas?

          These are the questions I would be asking if I were the Nat brass.

  6. FWIW, here’s the way it shakes out for me, if I were in Rizzo’s shoes…

    >Syracuse SP’s: Detwiler(LH), Maya(RH), Milone(LH), Arnesen(RH), JD Martin(RH); Chico(LH) to swing duty, Mock(RH), Atilano(RH), & Martis(RH) either traded or released.
    >Harrisburg SP’s: Peacock(RH), Tatusko(RH), Roark(RH), Meyers(RH), Alaniz(RH).
    >Potomac SP’s: Rosenbaum(LH), Bronson(RH), Holder(RH), Barthmaier(RH), Lehman(RH); Fabian(RH) to long relief or demoted.
    >Hagerstown SP’s: Solis(LH), Frias(RH), Clegg(LH), Demny(RH), Taylor(RH); McGeary(LH) on DL.

    1. I suspect Tatusko and Milone get promoted? Rizzo isn’t going to pass up the chance that Tatusko’s newly discovered 97 mph fastball might play in the majors. I expect both Holder, Barthmaier, and Rosenbaum will be in Harrisburg/Syracuse.

      One would expect that Martis, Mock, Atilano, Arnesen, Mandel etc will be demoted to Harrisburg or Potomac, traded or released?

      Frias is in Potomac I expect. Perhaps Solis as well?

      I still firmly believe they release Coffey and keep Balester. They eat Coffey’s signing bonus.

      1. As I just put in this morning’s post, releasing Coffey would back up the blather that the Nats might just end up releasing a MLB-ready player this spring.

  7. Listen I never want to be disrespectful, buy Spin I am talking to you. I understand loyalty and to a certain extent I understand you being credited for turning a guys career around, but I have watched Olly for three ears in NY . I watched him carefully in spring training, and just let me say this (pathetic). He was a 93-95 guy who signed a $36 MILL CONTRACT 3 YEARS. He works hard and is a great guy and team-mate but watching him is painful. He sits 84, yes thats right he sits 84-85 and luck if you see him throw 87 . He now drops is arm slot to lefty’s and his confidence level is destroyed. The mets ate $12mill to get rid of him . Please Nat management dont give up on your young guys to give him a shot at AAA that would be a mistake . I like OLY and I wish him the best but guys,if he does not show progress pronto under williams , I would make it my business to move on

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