Jason Bay Sees 30-Homer Seasons Ahead, Scout Disagrees

An article by posted on February 12, 2012

Andy Martino of the Daily News, spoke with Jason Bay and over the weekend and the Mets’ $66 million left-fielder sees a return to his 30-homer seasons despite his struggles the last two years.

Now 33, Bay believes his troubles are not related to age or mechanics and attributes the problems to overthinking.

“All those years I did well, I never worried about what I was doing,” says the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year, and three-time All-Star.

“There were good days, and there were bad days, and that was that. But I never analyzed. (The past two years), I over-analyzed everything. I was trying to make everything perfect. My hands here, my feet here; I wasn’t really a hitter. I was trying to make myself into a robot.”

Bay believes that he resolved his issues toward the end of last season and points to his hot finish in September. He told hitting coach Dave Hudgens, “F— it, I’m scrapping everything, and I’m just going to swing. I’m just going to stand up there, hold the bat and swing.”

Bay hit .313 in September, and re-learned what his two daughters and son, all 5 years old and younger, probably haven’t forgotten yet: Have fun, don’t think, just do.”

He knows that many will consider this unlikely. One scout, who observed Bay often last year, says, “You can just see it’s not there. The bat speed has slowed. When guys lose that pop, the balls just don’t jump off the bat the way they used to. That’s life.”

Former Met and Bay’s best friend Jeff Francoeur, believes it was the heavy burden of his contract at a time when the Mets Madoff related financial issues came to light, and that the walls at Citi Field got into his head.

“When I was there, I couldn’t say it. Now that I’m gone, I can say it. That was a tough deal. It can get in your head. David won’t tell you, and Jason won’t tell you, but I can tell you: It got in their heads.”

Bay told Martino he still believes ’100 percent’ that he can again hit 30 home runs in a season.

He knows that many will consider this unlikely. One scout, who observed Bay often last year, says, “You can just see it’s not there. The bat speed has slowed. When guys lose that pop, the balls just don’t jump off the bat the way they used to. That’s life.”

Bay will earn $16 million each of the next two seasons and has a $17 million vesting option that could kick in with 500 plate appearances this season and another 500 in 2013. If he gets off to a slow start, I’m not convinced the Mets will hang in with him as they have so far, especially with the knowledge of that option.

I think one of the reasons the Mets were searching for a left-handed hitting outfielder was to have a platoon partner for Bay, but that’s just my opinion and not based on anything that was reported.

Of course if Bay can revert back  to the intimidating slugger he was with the Red Sox and Pirates, then that option becomes less of a concern and it would be great for him as a player and also the Mets who have needed him to be the middle of the order presence they thought they were getting.

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