If You Could Do It All Over Again: Jason Bay or Matt Holliday?

An article by posted on August 26, 2011

When the 2009 season ended amid all that drama and all those injuries it left such a terrible taste in my mouth. We were predicted by many to be the World Series favorites that season, but nobody saw the disaster that was lurking around the bend.

One of Omar Minaya’s favorite pastimes when he was GM, was to ease our pain every offseason with a big-splash signing. Although the good feelings and overall impact of these headline-grabbers were almost always very short-lived, we had all become accustomed to the Omar Minaya press conferences complete with fanfare during the Hot Stove season.

After the debacle of installing Daniel Murphy as the everyday left fielder in 2009, coupled with the loss of cleanup hitter Carlos Delgado on top of that, it was no surprise what the Mets plan was for the 2009 offseason; get a power hitting leftfielder.

The choice the Mets had was to go after Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, those were the two that made the most sense, although one of them made a lot more sense than the other.

Holliday had Scott Boras representing him so right away you knew you were going to pay the ultimate price, but in return you were also getting the far more superior player. Still, there were plenty of teams that wanted him and if he was to remain a Cardinal, St. Louis would have to basically blow every other offer out of the water. They did.

Bay on the other hand, would come a lot cheaper mostly because he basically had only two other teams considering him; the Red Sox who were unwilling to offer more than two guaranteed years, and the Mariners who ultimately decided to go with Milton Bradley.

It was clear right from the start that Bay did not want to come to Flushing. He even went back to Boston hours before agreeing to sign with the Mets, to plead for the offer he originally turned down, but the Red Sox were no longer interested and told his agent that the deal was off the table. Still, Bay played hardball with the Mets who were now competing against themselves for his services. The result was a 4-year $66 million dollar deal with a 5th year vesting option that will come to haunt this franchise in 2014. Basically this is a five-year deal under the guise of a four-year deal.

The Mets were never serious players for Jason Bay despite what some may have reported at the time. Sure there was the obligatory calls to Boras and the subject of Holliday certainly came up, but basically it was to discuss his other clients that played for the team like Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and Carlos Beltran.

Matt Holliday St Louis Cardinals

Until Matt Holliday signed his big deal to remain with the Cardinals, I hung onto the slim hope that the Mets would land him. I just felt he was so vastly superior to Bay in so many aspects of his game that it would be worth it to give him the extra years to get a deal done. But that’s water under the bridge now, because the Mets were simply not that interested. So Jason Bay it was.

We’ve now had two season to consider both of these players and their contracts. I wonder if all those fans who were so opposed to giving Holliday that commitment, have had a change of heart?

Would you rather have three more years of Jason Bay right now, or five more years of Matt Holliday?

The differences between the two deals has always been the length of the deal because basically they are making the same average annual salary.

Bay will be 33 after this season, while Holliday ends the season at 31. Not much of a difference there, but when you consider that both players will be 36 after there deals conclude it does give you something to think about. It doesn’t make the Holliday deal look as bad as the Bay deal in terms of what age they were each signed through.

So they both get deals that took them through their 36th birthdays, and they both were making about the same average annual salary. There’s more…

If you look at the details of the Holliday deal, the Cardinals are deferring $2 million annually from Holliday’s salary until 2020. Without interest. That means Holliday is making less than what Bay is getting. Far less when you consider he is not even accruing any interest on the deferred portion.

I don’t believe I have to get in too deep as far as comparing these two players statistically over the last two years, but here’s the basics.

Matt Holliday – .310/.399/.540 in 967 AB with 76 2B, 47 HR and 170 RBI – 123 BB/168 K

Jason Bay – .245/.332/.371 in 717 AB with 31 2B, 17 HR and 90 RBI –  90 BB/182 K

Bay’s OPS this season is a woeful .659, while Holliday is nearly 300 points higher checking in with a .950 OPS this season.

There still a few years before we can render a final verdict on these two deals, but I’m pretty sure that the Cardinals will still be laughing all the way to the bank when all is said and done. The Mets on the other hand, will have to figure out a way to win despite that black hole in left field that makes more than any other psotition player on the team.

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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