For a team that was low on expectations, a fast start was critical to establishing a good foundation built on confidence in themselves and the knowledge that they are capable of winning any game when the team executes.
That said, I have some deep and abiding concerns…
Both Ike Davis and Jason Bay are struggling, but for quite different reasons.
In some ways I blame Davis’ slow start on Jason Bay. The Mets’ young first baseman was deservedly tabbed to be the cleanup hitter early on in training camp. It was good decision and one that was fully supported by all the peripherals in his short career.
But in addition to battling some timing issues and possibly some fatigue from his Valley Fever diagnosis, the biggest stumbling block could be the unhealthy diet of breaking pitches and changeups he is being dealt thanks in great part to Jason Bay. So far this season, Davis is only seeing about 25% fastballs at the plate – and in two-strike counts that number falls to just below 20%. Compare that to the 45% fastball ratio that the average hitter sees and the problem becomes quite apparent.
Jason Bay is not only having an adverse effect on the team in general, particularly the offense, but his presence in the five spot in the order is a contributing factor to the struggles of one of the most important spots to any lineup, the cleanup hitter. Bay continues to see his offense slide and just when you think it can’t get any worse it absolutely does.
It’s time to make the difficult decision of:
1. Batting Bay lower in the order and putting Lucas Duda in the five spot without any further delay.
2. Platoon him and try to net some value from left field when a right-hander is on the mound.
Either way you slice it, Bay is still going to collect on his $66 million dollar deal. But what this team needs more than anything else right now is to get some real offense out of that left field spot which is usually a haven for some of the top sluggers in the league.
After two straight seasons of having the worst ranked offense in the National League coming out of left field, enough is enough. Bay has been given every opportunity imaginable to work himself out of this funk.
People love to use statistics to project all the time. If you look at Jason Bay’s peripherals since he swapped a Red Sox jersey for a Mets jersey, the future is plain to see.
His once solid career as a slugger is apparently over. It has nothing to do with injury, or with Citi Field, or his batting stance. It has everything to do with a complete deterioration of his bat speed, responsiveness, instincts, power, and of course his confidence which is completely shattered. Some players may be able to overcome one or even two of those things, but at 33, Jason Bay will only get worse, not better. It’s time to move on just as we did with with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Mentally, I believe most of us have already moved on, but now we have to get Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson to follow suit.