Sunday, August 08, 2010

Fonzie Forever Retrospective - Jason Bay

Sometimes it sucks to be right. This is one of those times. In December of 2009, before the Mets signed Bay, I thought the question of whether Bay should be offered a big contract boiled down to one simple question:
Is this the guy we want to occupy 10% of our payroll with? Is this the kind of player we want to shape the rest of our roster around? Is he a cornerstone for the next Mets World Series team? I don't think so.
The answer then, was no. The answer today is HELL no.

It's not that Jason Bay is the worst player in the world. It's not even that Bay received the worst contract of last offseason. Rather, it's just that Bay doesn't seem to fit as anything on this team. Beltran, when we signed him, was this stud center fielder who we could build a franchise around. Santana was a stalwart rotation anchor who would lead our starting staff for almost a decade. Bay? Even at his absolute best, Bay was a clumsy corner outfielder who would play the majority of his contract above the age of 33. Even at his best, he's not the star this team needed. But we paid him like one.

After the signing came down, we wrote that not only was it a poor signing -- it was the beginning of the end for Omar Minaya.
This is it - the beginning of the end for Minaya. This is EXACTLY the kind of move that ends a tenure as a GM. That, while receiving lukewarm approval from the fanbase and newspapers today, will be a complete and utter disaster by the end of the contract.
It was a mistake signing at the time, and I don't think any outlet - newspaper or blog - lambasted the move with as much conviction. The reaction around the blogosphere, believe it or not, was generally positive. Granted, Bay is not Manny Ramirez in his prime, but people felt it was a necessary move. Well, it wasn't. It was a disaster the moment it occurred.

We compared Bay to some corner outfielders who put up similar numbers in their late-20's and early-30's, and the results were grim: Ryan Klesko, Danny Tartabull, Tim Salmon, Jeromy Burnitz ... all were cautionary tales.

We poked holes into the myth that Jason Bay was some sort of extraordinary run-producer.

And here we sit today, August 9th, with Jason Bay on the disabled list and stuck on six home runs. He had provided the Mets with, and get this, 1.3 wins above replacement. In the first year of a five year deal. I wish we were wrong about this, but this looks like an absolutely unmitigated disaster.

The good news is that for some reason, Jason Bay and his awful year have been going under the radar in the news and on sports radio. Right now, the focus has been on Ollie, and Castillo, and Manuel, and our inability to win on the road. But the truth is, no matter which way you slice it, if Jason Bay was having anywhere EVEN CLOSE to the kind of season we were paying for, the Mets would be in much better shape. And considering their awful 14-22 record in one-run games, having one additional potent bat in the lineup could have made all the difference.

From here on out, you need to simply wish Bay and the Mets the best. It's been a rough go for him since the season started, and it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I'd be willing to bet good money that Omar Minaya is out of here by June 2011, and that when he's dismissed, the Jason Bay contract will be the primary piece of evidence.

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