With everything that has happened over the past few weeks to Chris Perez, it is understandable that the popular opinion is that Perez isn’t all that popular anymore among the fans. He’s blown saves, he’s gotten hurt, and he’s been arrested for drug possession. Like I said, he’s probably not too popular right now.
But here’s the thing, the fans can be upset with Chris Perez. They’ve earned that right through years of heartache and struggle. Perez also has done very little to endear himself to the fan base after lighting them up with his incendiary comments last season regarding their poor attendance and pessimism. So again, it makes sense then that the fan base wouldn’t be very happy with him following his most recent transgressions.
However, let’s be very clear about something. Just because fans might be upset with Perez does not mean that the Indians should act in a reactionary manner and immediately kick Perez to the curb like so many of our fellow bloggers and internet forum junkies have suggested. Last I checked, the Indians were in no position to throw away talent based on some sort of self-imposed moral high ground. Yes, Perez’s most recent issue is embarrassing, there’s no denying that, but it is nowhere near enough to honestly believe they should move on.
Chris Perez got caught with marijuana. He’s not the first and he certainly won’t be the last. Why only now is this such a huge deal that it is causing people to turn their backs on someone who for all his faults has been a fairly consistent performer over the past three seasons? Say what you want about the over-inflated value and importance placed on closers, but the fact remains that Perez has been one of the best in that role for quite some time.
So I have no choice but to ask: If Perez wasn’t injured and had 20-plus saves right now, would there be the same public outcry for his head, or would the reaction be the exact opposite? If Chris Perez were having a typical Chris Perez season and well on his way to 30+saves would there still be all of this hate being spewed in his direction? Personally, I find that hard to believe. That’s just how sports work.
Despite this, you might still believe the Indians should rid themselves of the headache Perez has become. Ok then… how? Do they designate him for assignment, because Perez isn’t clearing waivers. He’s getting claimed by the first team that has a chance to take him. Giving him an outright release again makes no sense because the Indians receive nothing in return. Trade him? Well, that’s all well and good but despite the known value for Perez’s abilities, no team in their right mind is paying full price for a closer coming off of shoulder and legal problems prior to the trade deadline.
The only logical play is to welcome Perez back with open arms once he comes off of the DL and solves his legal troubles. He needs to reestablish his value and the only way he is accomplishing that is by pitching his ass off in the second half of the season. If Perez can do that, he may increase his value back to a point where the Indians may be able to get a decent return for him in the offseason.
Not to mention, the Indians bullpen only makes sense with Perez in the mix. The seventh, eighth, and ninth inning trifecta of Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Perez is designed to shut teams down. Remove even one of them and suddenly things get thrown out of whack. Does Pestano have the mental make up to close out games? Who takes over the eighth, Smith? Cody Allen? Someone else? Again, jettisoning Perez leaves more questions than answers.
Can the Indians afford to create more holes in their already somewhat exposed roster? Can they afford to simply throw away a talented arm that any of the other 29 teams would love to have? I say no, but that’s just one man’s opinion.