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Perez hopes to help the Dodgers in 2001

2-19-01

As Carlos Perez did last spring, he hopes to rebound from a disappointing performance in 2000 to be an integral part of the 2001 Dodgers. Both in 1999 and 2000 he had a pitcherís nightmare on the mound. Most Dodger fans want the Dodgers to release Perez. It is not likely because Perez will make $7.5 million in 2001, the last year in a multi-year contract. Trading him is out of the question until he proves himself able to be an asset to any team.

On July 31, 1998, Tommy Lasorda, working as a general manager, obtained Carlos Perez along with Mark Grudzielanek and Hiram Bocachica from the Montreal Expos for Wilton Guerrero and several minor leaguers. When the trade was completed, it looked as if the Dodgers finally had found a young left-handed starter. Though many baseball critics said Lasorda depleted the Dodger minor league system in that trade, the Dodger minor league system was already hurting, and a good young left-handed starter has a high trade value.

As a Dodger in 1998, Perez looked as if he would be a possible Cy Young award winner. After a rough August when he won none, lost three, and had a 5.91 ERA, he had a remarkable September when he had four wins, a loss, and a 1.05 ERA. Since he performed well in September, it appeared the Dodgers would have a great left-handed starter for many years.

After the 1998 season Perez was eligible for salary arbitration. The Dodgers try to avoid salary arbitration at any cost because the arbitration process produces hard feelings between the team and the player. Following the Dodger policy, new general manager Kevin Malone signed Perez to a three-year $15.5 million contract. Nobody knew Perez would not pitch satisfactorily.

In 1999 Carlos Perez mysteriously lost his velocity. No matter how good his curveball is, no major league pitcher can get hitters out if he throws every pitch at the same speed. That was Perezís problem. When Perez pitched, the hitters hammered. In seventeen games he won two, lost ten, and had a 7.43 ERA. This led to his demotion to triple-A. To his credit, Perez did not complain much about the demotion. While pitching in the minors, a ball struck Perezís leg and prevented him from pitching in the majors for the rest of the 1999 season.

Perez had a rough 2000 season. In thirty appearances he had five wins and eight losses with a 5.56 ERA. Perez did experience some success in the Dodger bullpen as a long reliever. As a reliever, he had a 1.78 ERA, but he does not like the relieving role. Last September his season ended with shoulder surgery to remove a bone spur. Hopefully, removing a bone spur will help him to regain his velocity. Many thought Perez would not be ready to pitch in the major leagues until May, but he is ahead of schedule.

No one has mentioned Perez as a candidate for the most-wanted fifth spot in the highly talented Dodger starting rotation. However, Perez hopes to beat out Ramon Martinez, Eric Gagne, and Luke Prokopec for that spot.

Carlos Perez has been a disappointment as a Dodger. He has pitched poorly making him unpopular with most Dodger fans. However, no fan should say that Perez did not try his best on the field. The Dodgers hope Perezís shoulder surgery will improve his performance. As Dodger fans, we need to give Perez our support and not our criticism. Perez hopes to contribute to the Dodger effort in 2001. If he does well, the Dodgers will benefit, but if he does not pitch satisfactorily, the 2001 season is the last year of his contract.

© Sarah D. Morris

 

 

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