The Mets are in the market for at least one pitcher this winter. Here Lee Andrew makes the case for bringing back Oliver Perez.

We all know that the New York Mets need to add at least one pitcher this offseason. I have no problem with the Mets signing a Derek Lowe or an AJ Burnett but I also like the idea of bringing back Oliver Perez.

Oliver Perez has been erratic during his Mets career to say the least and a lot of people might think that 2008 was a step down for Oliver Perez since he had a lower ERA in 2007 but numbers don’t tell the whole story. I think that last season Oliver Perez had his best season as a New York Met.

Oliver Perez started 2008 with his usual roller coaster performance. In his first two outings he didn’t give up a run. That was followed by a 6 runs in 4 innings performance, then a 5 inning shut out, 5 runs in 5 innings, 2 earned runs in 1.2 innings (although there were 7 runs scored in all.) Oliver Perez was up to his old tricks.

Oliver Perez finally came around about the time the Mets decided to make a coaching change. Not only was the manager replaced but so was the pitching coach. Around that time Oliver Perez was on fire. From June 7th through August Oliver Perez had an ERA of 2.83. From June 7th to the end of the season he still had a decent 3.48 ERA. That ERA inflated the last month of the season mainly because of a 7 run, 3 inning performance against the Nationals and a five run, four inning performance against the Cubs. Those performances both hurt, but those were really his only two awful performances from June 7th on and not even the best pitchers in the league go from June to September without bad performances..

Also from that June 7th on the Mets were 14 – 8 in Oliver Perez’s starts but 3 of those losses were great starts that were losses because of the offense’s lack of support. If the Mets offense scored just 3 runs in each of Oliver Perez’s starts they would’ve been 17 – 5 in his starts from June 7th until the end of the season.

Most of my baseball life I’ve hated the Atlanta Braves, not just because they won so many pennants in a row, not just because they have a habit of destroying the New York Mets but also because I live in Alabama. In 1989 there was not a single Atlanta Brave fan in the state of Alabama. In 1990 everybody in Alabama was suddenly an Atlanta Braves fan. It was the worst case of bandwagon jumping I’ve ever seen in my life. It made me sick seeing people everyday that were “Braves fans” even though they couldn’t name a single player that played for them in the 80’s, not even Dale Murphy

So it certainly doesn’t hurt that Oliver Perez pitches well against the Atlanta Braves. He wasn’t lights out in his three starts against the Braves but he did win against them twice and the one game he lost he only gave up two runs. Last year against the Atlanta Braves Oliver Perez did surrender 6 runs and 10 hits in five innings in one start, but in his four other starts against the Braves he had a 1.75 ERA.

Of course the Atlanta Braves have now been passed up as my least favorite team, that now belongs to the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. I haven’t checked every Mets pitcher’s numbers against the Phillies last season but I’m pretty sure nobody was better than Oliver Perez. How does this sound? 26 innings, 1 earned run. Sadly Oliver Perez only went 1 – 0 in those four starts, which brings up another point. When the Mets get relievers that can actually pitch all of the starting pitchers are going to look better.

Those are the baseball reasons that I want Oliver Perez to come back to the New York Mets in 2009 but now for the real reason I want Oliver Perez back. I like him.

Most of the time fans of a team will like all the stars but the diehard fans will have other non-stars that they like. For me that person is Oliver Perez. Why do I like Oliver Perez?

It starts with the fact that his best year was as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’m a New York Mets fan through and through but I’m going to admit to you all that my number two favorite team is the Pittsburgh Pirates. My family moved to Birmingham, Alabama shortly before I was born. They came from Pittsburgh where my siblings, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents are all from. Since I wasn’t born and raised in Pittsburgh like the rest of them I didn’t feel like I had to be a Pittsburgh fan and I chose to be a Mets fan instead. But I’ve always been loyal to the Pirates too.

Lately I’ve found the Pirates especially endearing. The Pirates are the team that I consider the lovable losers. I know that is the moniker usually given to the Chicago Cubs but I don’t find them lovable at all. Cubs fans for the most part are annoying and obnoxious and they are always down on their team. Most Chicago fans deserve to never have a Championship team again. The Pittsburgh fans deserve a winner. I’m sure there are plenty of pessimistic Pirates fans too but when I went to a game in Pittsburgh this summer the Pirates were about 20 games out and almost every fan stayed until the ninth inning and when the Pirates put the tying run on base the entire ballpark was on their feet and this was just a few weeks after the Pirates traded two of their best players. I’ve never seen fans cheer so much for such a lousy team.

During this horrible losing streak of 16 seasons not many Pirates have been as exciting as Oliver Perez when he hit the scene, which shows you how sad the Pirates are, I mean I love Oliver Perez but it’s not like he’s Johan Santana, and yet this is the best the Pirates have had to offer lately.

I also like Oliver Perez because he doesn’t make it look easy. I love Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes but at times baseball looks so easy to them. Nobody is great all the time but to me it seems like both players just don’t even try sometimes and that is frustrating. But it never looks that easy for Oliver Perez. Perez seems like every single game is tough and it’s a battle to succeed. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t, but he doesn’t ever seem to quit or not try.

Maybe other fans would rather have a pitcher that has loads of talent and gets by without trying hard but I find something very endearing about Oliver Perez. When Oliver Perez pitches a good game and comes off the mound I feel unusually proud of him. I’ve never had children but I imagine it is similar to a dad proud of their son. When Perez pitches well I want to yell, “thatta boy kid!” and pat him on the head even though that “kid” is only a year younger than me.

I think Oliver Perez just needs a little encouragement and he needs people to believe in him. He needs Rob Schneider from Waterboy on the sideline constantly yelling, “you can do it!” His struggles could definitely continue if the raucous New York fans get on him a lot and then maybe he’d be better off somewhere else. But if the New York fans, players and coaches all got behind Oliver Perez and believed in him then I think the Mets have quite a good pitcher on their hands. I don’t know about you, but I believe in Oliver Perez.