Amidst all the recent Yuniesky Betancourt confusion, I stumbled upon this Neifi Perez card from 2002. I’m also in a surly mood because the holidays are over and I’m tired, so I wanted to go on a rantpage.
I assume Buddy Bell did not actually mean what he said, he was simply trying to be a company man, nice guy and player’s coach, but still, to ask if there is a better shortstop than Neifi Perez is like asking if there is a better looking man/woman than Fergie.
In his 668 games with the Rockies, Perez managed a .282/.313/.411 line. Not good, not abysmal for a shortstop, but, still, not good. He struck out 287 times in 2,728 ABs and hit just 43 HRs. He stole 33 bases, but was caught 24 times. In short he was worth just 1.1 wins above a replacement player. For someone who played most of his games at Coors field those offensive numbers are truly offensive.
So what gave Perez an edge? Well, he had a reputation of being a good glove man and did win the gold glove in 2000 (although ask Rafael Palmeiro how prestigious the award is). He also is tied for the sixth best fielding percentage among shortstops all time. When he hung up his glove, he finished with a .978 fielding mark, the same as Ozzie Smith, Orlando Cabrera and Devi Cruz. He was just behind the immortal Cal Ripken, Tony Fernandez, Larry Bowa, Mike Bordick and Omar Vizquel.
Unfortunately, his time in Colorado would represent the high watermark of his career, as he’d spend the next seven seasons whittling down his career WAR to 0.1. For the Royals, who traded for him, he’d be worth -1.9 WAR. This began a sad collection of trades involving Perez.
However, the Rockies did outstanding to get Jermaine Dye who was just 27 at the time and was putting up a .272/.333/.417 line. Not great for a corner outfielder but he was worth 10.6 WAR up to that point and had a career .285/.341/.481 line. That is where the Rockies’ (the team that gave Perez all those ABs) intelligence ended. The same day they would flip Dye to the Oakland Athletics for Todd Belitz, Mario Encarnacion and Jose Ortiz.
For Oakland, Dye was worth 2.5 WAR and put up a .252/.326/.444 line – certainly better than Neifi Perez.
Back to Perez who the Royals gave too much playing time and lost too many wins because of. Mercifully, he’d be in Kansas City for just two years before going to the San Francisco Giants (worth 0.3 during his time there) and then three years for the Cubs (1.6 WAR). Draw your own conclusions why…or think about Edgar Renteria’s recent contract.
To sum up the first Betancourt, in only five seasons in his 12-year career did Perez post an OBP above .300. Only once was it over .314.
Basically, July 25, 2001 must have been a shot to the ego for Jermaine Dye (perhaps moreso than the free agent market in 2010). I mean, he was traded for what?
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