Reincarnation

We normally don't believe in the theory of reincarnation, i.e., constantly returning to life in a newer form. That being said, it does for all the world seem like the Dodgers Odalis Perez is the living, breathing reincarnation of an earlier Dodgers farmhand, one Anthony "Tony" Barron.

Barron was a potential five tool outfielder some 15 years ago. He had ALL the physical tools. He could run, he had a rifle of an arm, he could field, he could hit, he could hit with power. There was really no upside on his upside.

Barron's problems, it turned out, were all between his ears. He'd constantly blame all his failures on somebody or something else. The umpire screwed him, calling a strike when it was clearly a ball. The pitcher did him an injustice, throwing him the deadly curve when Barron was looking for and wanted a fastball.

Etc., etc., etc.

Barron, as we have occasionally mentioned, was a great no strike hitter, a so-so hitter with one strike against him, and an automatic out when there were two strikes in the count. In Barron's world, how could he be expected to produce when everybody and everything were against him?

Various Dodgers' managers, scouts, coaches, tried to adjust Barron's psyche, all to no avail. Nonetheless, he advanced from rookie ball to the A leagues, to AA and AAA. When the Dodgers gave up, others tried - the talent was so evident even though the results hid them very well. Finally Barron got a cup of coffee with the Phillies, only to quickly disappear into the large barrel of kids who had all the talent in the world but some incurable inner demons that cost them fame and fortune.

Now cometh Odalis Perez. There was a time that everytime Perez took the mound there was a good chance for a shutout if not a no hitter. No longer. Seldom has there been a pitcher of such promise also saddled with an arm's length of excuses, alibis, distractions and other manifestations from the cornucopia of substitutes for self induced implosion and failure.

Shawn Green wouldn't hit behind him. The fielders wouldn't field. The team insisted on pitching him in cities he didn't like to pitch in (where he had had failure before)(a growing list).

Perez had more going for him than the aforementioned Barron. For Perez was and is a lefty. There are different rules for lefties. They are allowed to be eccentric. Any lefty with a chance to roll the ball up to the plate has a shot at the big leagues. And even screwy lefties like Perez can hang around for years. Lefty pitchers, because there are so few of them, also make money. In Perez' case, lots of it. Too much of it, for the return on investment so far.

There have been lots of pitching Perez-es in big league ball. Pascal Perez, the sniffing one, flashed like a meteor before disappearing back into the back roads of the Dominican. Another Perez might have been a good one if he had not become inexplicably lost forever riding around the I-295 beltway in Atlanta. One thing about all the pitching Perez clan - there is yet to be one with his head screwed on right.

When Odalis gave up 7 runs in a single inning, thereby blowing a 6-0 Dodgers lead, even normally correct new owner Frank McCourt went ballistic and was seen gesticulating wildly in the glassed in box of his GM Ned Colletti. Colletti was sure to have reminded McCourt he had inherited the bum and his contract from his predecessor.

Like Tony Barron, Odalis was wonderful until the first pitch was thrown. With one strike against him (his sojourn in Atlanta where even pitching guru Leo Mazzone gave up on him), Perez was still worth a calculated risk. Now with seemingly two strikes against him, Perez is as worthless as Tony Barron with two strikes against him.

The problem is the Dodgers are contractually obligated for many more years and many more millions to Odalis Perez for whom there is no fair market and little if any real chance he can solve the demons between his ears. He is wasting roster space, not to mention a good chunk of the payroll budget.

Perez has few friends and admirers left in Los Angeles. If he's married, maybe his wife. As his detractors multiply, the chances of him being what he once might have been disappear just as exponentially.

Instead of reincarnation, the only possible answer is a transplant, and there still has yet to be a successful transplant between the ears.

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