On Wednesday night, Jason Bay was finally activated from the 15-day disabled list, and returned to the Mets' active roster. After missing six weeks from a fractured rib, Bay sat on the bench and watched his team play against the Washington Nationals. And even with Bay not on the field, the Mets still managed to lose.
With Bay back, the biggest question most fans wondered while he was gone must be answered by manager Terry Collins: who will start in left field?
To protect Collins from making a hard decision that can possibly produce negative effects, the Mets' front office must trade or release him. There are just too many factors that can affect this club with the return of Bay, and with the Mets making a run no team or analyst could have predicted, adding Bay to the lineup as a starter can be the team's downfall.
Jason Bay's stat line is .251/21/109 in his three seasons with the Mets. In 2009, with the Boston Red Sox, Bay batted .267 with 36 home runs and 119 RBI, becoming an MVP candidate. That was far greater than his three year total with the Mets.
Regardless of the fact that Fenway Park is hitter-friendly while Citi Field is not, this is unacceptable for a once thought to be high-caliber player who will get paid over $12 million for just this year. With his time with the Mets, Bay has been lost at the plate, seemingly unable to drive a ball like he is capable of.
Bay also struggles to stay healthy with his reckless defense, as evidenced by his six week absence this year. Striking out 17 times already in only 15 games he has played in this year, putting him in the lineup would just hurt the Mets. They already have one slumping hitter in the everyday lineup in Ike Davis. Bay just is not the same player he used to be on this team and would provide no protection for this lineup and no help for this successful team.
There is something the fans love about this current group of starters and rotation. They are young, bring energy and for the most part, consistent. This current squad has won over a fan base that was expecting an abysmal season, in only a span of two months. The starters produce, as well as the bench.
The two men who have been playing in the absence of Bay, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter, have won over the fans.
Baxter, currently on the disabled list, has won over the fans by hitting .323 and making arguably the catch of the year for the Mets, giving up his body saving Johan Santana's no-hitter and giving the Mets their first no-hitter ever in their history. That catch alone sent Baxter to the disabled list, and is in the heart of many Mets fans for a speedy recovery.
Nieuwenhuis, only 24 years old and originally a center fielder, has been hitting on a consistent basis and is a better option at left field than Bay. Hitting .295, Captain Kirk has been a key reason for the Mets' success and has been a fan favorite since Day 1. Even bench player Scott Hairston has been hitting, providing the Mets with the power Bay never did. Hitting .293 with already eight home runs, Hairston has also been a key to the Mets' success.
The Mets have a difficult decision on their hand, and it would be feasible to trade Bay. Bay has no place with this team anymore, and installing him into the lineup could potentially disrupt the chemistry of this team.
Making over $12 million this year, the Mets must swallow their pride and accept that they made a wrong signing. They should pay most of his contract so that he still has trade value, and trade him to help the only problem with this current Mets' squad: their bullpen. Bay, a pull-hitter, must be traded to a team with a hitter friendly park to enjoy the success he has had in the past.
The 2012 Mets have new faces mixed with young. If they want to keep the success their having and if Bay ever wants to resurrect his career, they must part ways.