Was there ever a time that Mets fans had any hope for Jason Bay? It seems like he was pretty much considered a disappointment from the very first day of his Mets career. After hitting 36, 31, 31, 25, 36, and 26 the previous six years of his career, he hit six homers his first year and spent most of the season dealing with a concussion he suffered after running into a wall. Last year brought a rib injury; this year brought another one. He's been hurt and lousy and just plain frustrating every minute of his time with the Mets. And now he won't even be a starter.
The Mets have decided that Bay will now only play against lefthanded pitchers — Jordany Valdespin and Mike Baxter will get the at-bats against righties — and it will stay that way the rest of the season, and probably next. (Next year is the final year of Bay's seemingly endless contract.) General manager Sandy Alderson assured everyone that Bay won't be released — this isn't football; you still have to pay a guy if you cut him — and that everyone understands the unfortunate circumstances at hand.
Even Bay. He's actually sorta sad about it. "If I had a better leg to stand on, I could say something," Bay said after last night's game. "But, as of right, now, I don't. I don't want to be a distraction. I want to go out there and help out any way I can. That is kind of the position that I'm in."
He's so charmingly Canadian.
The offseason that the Mets signed Bay, they actually had another option in free agency, Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday. Many considered Holliday a bigger risk because he was so much more expensive. Many people liked the Bay signing at the time, including ESPN's Keith Law, who wrote:
The New York Mets needed another impact bat to replace Carlos Delgado, whose 2008 second-half surge was a big part of why the Mets had a lead to blow in the NL East that fall. Jason Bay should be that guy with his plate discipline, power and 200-plus games of experience in the toughest division in the game. Citi Field is a pretty good fit for Bay, as it's a good park for right-handed power hitters (plus-10 percent versus a neutral NL park, according to this year's Bill James Handbook). ... I think there's a strong chance that Bay will outperform defensive expectations to the point where his salary no longer seems out of line with his performance because he'll do the things at the plate — get on base and hit for power — that pay the bills.
We know Mets fans will be booing and considering Jason Bay a bust for the next three decades ... but the fact is, he was an excellent hitter who has been hurt pretty much every second he's been here. Omar Minaya made a ton of mistakes in his reign as GM here and signing Bay was definitely one of them. But you can at least see what he was thinking at the time, something you couldn't say about a lot of his moves when he made them.
But we shouldn't be eulogizing Bay here. He's gonna be here for a lot longer; you'll just be seeing less of him.