VIERA, Fla. - Good morning (once again) from sunny Florida; I'm back for the final week of spring training, after a few days to pack for an upcoming move and recharge. Since I graduated from high school, I've moved more than a dozen times, and I've grown to hate it so very much. But my wife and I made a good dent in the packing process while I was home, and I'm actually feeling pretty good about this one. In fact, I dare say I'm in the best moving shape of my life.
Anyway, the big news yesterday was the Nationals' signing of Oliver Perez to a minor league deal, and I call it big news only because a) the Nationals were off yesterday, leaving no room for more substantive developments and b) Perez earned himself quite a reputation with his failings in New York. He bombed out badly there after signing a three-year, $36 million deal; in fact, he was booed off Citi Field after throwing the final pitches of the Nationals' season last year. Perez walked three batters and hit another to force in the winning run and end a 14-inning marathon.
The left-hander, who used to throw 95 mph before knee surgery, was reportedly throwing in the mid-80s this spring before the Mets released him. The Nationals probably aren't even sure if they can revive him. But there's an important point to remember here: It's a minor league deal.
I know we're in the age of instant reaction (or overreaction), but the rancor I saw on Twitter yesterday was a little surprising even by those standards. Yes, Perez is coming off an ugly end to his time in New York, and the fact he pitched in New York raises his profile even more. But practically, this is a low-risk move for the Nationals, who will put Perez with his old pitching coach (Spin Williams) and see if he can put his career back together. If he doesn't? The Nationals aren't out much; they signed him to a minor league deal, so he's not on the 40-man roster. A few snickers about the move are certainly warranted, but it's not as though Perez will be in the team's rotation tomorrow.
Call it bargain shopping for bargain shopping's sake, but that's really all it is - and the emotional investment given to it should fall in line with that.
The Nationals travel to Lakeland for the first (and only) time this spring, taking on the Tigers in a 6:05 p.m. contest. They're scheduled to take most of their regulars, save for Ryan Zimmerman, who should return to the lineup this weekend after nursing a groin strain.