Over the past week or so, I have been getting into arguments with friends about Chris Perez and his role on the Indians pitching staff. I am tired of seeing the Twitter pages and the harassment Perez received after blowing two recent saves. Last Monday, Perez gave up back-to-back home runs in the 9th inning against Seattle, only to earn the win after the Indians came back and won. And more recently, he blew a three run lead in the 9th against the Red Sox on Sunday, eventually leaving the game and heading for the disabled list with an arm injury.
After the blown save on Monday, Perez deleted his Twitter account to, “maintain greater focus on the success of the team this season and our shared goals moving forward”, in the words of Perez in a statement made Tuesday. Perez received thousands of tweets from angry fans after blowing the save, telling him to get out of town, making fun of his hair and his weight.
Even after the man left the game because of his physical inability to throw a baseball, he was still getting harassment. A man who, in under 4 complete seasons with Cleveland has saved 105 games, and is getting forced out of town. The pitcher with the second most saves in team history, an average of almost 30 saves a season, is getting fans calling for his head. I have to ask, why?
This recent injury screamed more than just a 15-day DL stint to me. He obviously tried to hide the fact that he was injured, until his wincing became clear. After hearing about how awful he was by his own fans, I think that Perez hid his injury because of us. His own fans were screaming for his job, and he wanted to push and prove to his teammates who have to listen to all of the criticism, and the fans as hard as he could that he should keep his job, and it has now led to our two time All Star closer on the disabled list.
The thing that irks me the most, is that this is typical Cleveland. A guy has a few bad weeks, or a rookie quarterback with no weapons throws a few more interceptions than touchdowns, and Cleveland fans want the guy thrown into the next bus out of Cleveland. How many head coaches, quarterbacks and players do we have to go through to realize that you can’t get the perfect situation overnight. You have to look at the bigger picture. I’m not saying that Indians fans are the reason he is injured, but you can’t say for sure that the huge amount of pressure from outside the clubhouse didn’t make Perez want to get himself out of it, and look what it has led to.
Whether you want it or not, we need Chris Perez as our closer if we want to have any chance of contending come September. He is a very good closer, and people that want him out have to answer some questions. Who do you want to put in place of a 2-time All Star with over 100 career saves? I hear Vinnie Pestano, or Cody Allen. If I am in a big game late in the season, or maybe even the playoffs, I would much rather have someone who has been in the closing position before rather than someone who was thrown in as a replacement the same season. So the guy had a few bad weeks, and he is now injured. These are human beings. Yes they are professionals, but they are not perfect. Stop being typical Cleveland and give the guy a chance. Because you may not realize it now, but you could end up needing him more than you think in the future.