Oliver Perez – The Next Jason Schmidt?
If one were to ask a Pirates fan to make a list of the worst trades in team history, there is little doubt that the 2001 disposal of Jason Schmidt to the San Francisco Giants would appear high on the list. On July 30th, 2001, The Pirates traded Schmidt and outfielder John Vander Wal (a productive player in his own right) to the San Francisco Giants for two of the all-time greats, pitcher Ryan Vogelsong and outfielder Armando Rios.
Upon leaving Pittsburgh, Schmidt blossomed into one of the best power pitchers in all of baseball.
Suffice it to say, the move did not work out for the Pirates. After accumulating an ERA more befitting of an airline jet (5.86) than a pitcher in the major leagues, Vogelsong has taken his batting practice act to Japan. Rios last played professionally in 2005…for the Long Island Ducks of the Independent League. Rios was also named in the BALCO case, and is an admitted user of performance enhancing drugs. Which makes you wonder, how bad would Rios have been if he didn’t cheat?
On July 31st, 2006, the Pirates traded another talented but inconsistent power pitcher, this time to the New York Mets. At the time of the trade, it was clear that Oliver Perez was in need of repair. His fastball wasn’t so fast, and his control was MIA.
Which is why it was so disturbing to watch Perez mow down the Atlanta Braves in his first start of the 2007 season. Perez was bringing serious heat, and his slider was nearly unhittable. Just ask All-Star Andruw Jones, who struck out and had his bat shattered by the diabolical pitch during the game. Perez was cool and confident, his trademark hop over the foul line having returned. It was 2004 all over again.
Schmidt just took a little longer than most pitchers to harness his considerable talent. Still just 25, one can’t help but wonder if Perez is also about to blossom while wearing a different uniform.