The Jason Bay Experiment Has Run It’s Course

There are times when I think Omar Minaya takes a lot more flack than he should.  During his tenure he did everything in his power to produce a winning ball club.  He signed a lot of free agents to numerous big money contracts and for the most part I agreed with his decisions.  I was even on board for most of his questionable ones.  Due to a lack of better options at the time, I was even okay with the decisions surrounding Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.  However, the one move he did make that I was completely against was the four year, sixty-six million dollar contract to Jason Bay.

There was something that just didn’t sit right for me when it came to Bay.  Acquired at the age of thirty, I thought it was foolish to commit so much money to a right-handed batter who had spent the previous year and a half  hitting into the green monster in Boston.  It just didn’t see logical to bring that swing to Citi Field where long fly balls went to die.  However, even at that point I couldn’t predict in my wildest dreams how bad things would really be.

The 2004 NL Rookie Of The Year was brought in with the intention of locking down the heart of the Mets lineup for the foreseeable future.  Instead, Bay has provided only twenty-one home runs in more than 850 at-bats.  That is one home run every 41 at-bats…A far cry from the home run every 18 at-bat pace Bay boasted prior to arriving in Queens.  Power numbers aren’t the only problem though.  Since joining the Mets, Bay has hit for a sub-par .233 batting average.  That’s a full 40 points lower than his career average, which has been significantly lowered in recent years.

Coming into this season, it was logical to keep Jason on the roster.  The Mets outfield had more questions than answers and there was a minimum of $32 million dollars remaining on the former slugger’s salary.  Combine those factors with the idea that the reduced Citi Field dimensions would help his power woes and it simply didn’t make sense to cut him.  Half way through the 2012 season and its become apparent that Jason Bay’s presence in New York is doomed.  Hindered by injury once again, his season remains devoid of any promise of the player we once envisioned.  Add to that the fact that his redeeming quality, his defense, has abandoned him on multiple occasions in the few games he has managed to play, and there are far fewer reasons to keep Bay around.

Upon completion of the 2012 season, Bay can no longer hide behind the outfield depth concerns the Mets currently embrace.  The promotion of Matt Den Dekker to AAA Buffalo would infer that he should challenge for the starting center field position next spring.  Assuming the team doesn’t renew the contract of Andres Torres, one might think that Den Dekker would push Kirk Nieuwenhuis to left field.  What happens to Bay then?

Despite the fact that we have a small sample size with regards to Kirk’s abilities, he seems more than capable to replace Jason Bay’s offensive production in left field…and for a small fraction of the price.  Jason Bay has had more than enough time to turn his Mets’ tenure around and his most recent 0 for 16 slump since returning from the disabled list is less than inspiring.  Jason Bay may be the consummate professional and he may be an above average left fielder, but the time is quickly approaching for the Mets’ organization to realize that the future is much brighter without him in the mix.  There is no doubt that the more than $16 million dollars remaining on Bay’s salary will be a hard pill to swallow for our cash strapped ownership group, but the idea of cutting Bay has to be creeping into the minds of the Mets brass.  Ultimately, such a move makes more sense next spring than right now, but it remains obvious that Jason Bay’s days in the New York Mets uniform are numbered..for better or worse.

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