Should the New York Mets Eat Jason Bay's Salary Just to Get Rid of Him?
I will begin by saying that Jason Bay deserves a great deal of credit for the way he has conducted himself during his nearly two-and-a-half seasons of abysmal performances and injuries amidst the spotlight of New York.
He has remained level-headed despite suffering through a rash of injuries and his latest head injury just might put a damper even on his most optimistic fan.
Some players of lesser character would have cracked under the scrutiny. Not naming anyone in particular, but perhaps a lefty pitcher that was number No. 46 during 2006-2010 may not have been so professional.
In that sense, he is to be commended.
On the other end of the spectrum, this will always be a performance business. General Manager Sandy Alderson has already proven that he is committed to putting the best players on the field. This may seem simplistic, but Omar Minaya was the type of GM that constantly displayed loyalty to certain players, which ultimately cost the franchise playoff appearances in 2007 and 2008.
In the case of Jason Bay, one has to wonder whether the left fielder will ever regain his All-Star form, which allowed him to hit 36 home runs and drive in 119 runs while playing in the pressure cooker of Boston.
In fact, his level of play has fallen off so mightily, the Mets may be better off eating the remaining portion of his salary simply to get average production from a position that should yield power numbers.
Should the Mets release Jason Bay?
Entering the season, he was coming off two injury-plagued and largely unimpressive seasons. He compiled 18 home runs in 792 at bats.
That is a far cry from his prime from 2004-2009 in which he averaged 33 home runs and 109 RBIs per 162 games.
The four-year, $66 million pact signed prior to the 2010 season has long since been labeled a bust.
The Mets were reluctant to re-sign many players that were deemed out of their price range since that signing. Many of those players have performed much better for their new teams than Bay has performed for the Mets.
A perfect example is Chris Capuano.
The Mets were not willing to guarantee a second-year to the aging and mediocre left-handed pitcher that has not one, but two Tommy John surgeries in his past.
At the time, it seemed like a good business decision, but not when he has gotten off to an 8-2 start with a 2.87 ERA with a 132 ERA+ for a first-place team.
Despite the fact that Chris Young appears to be healthy and performing adequately, Capuano's early-season success would have provided a tremendous boost for the back-end of the Mets' rotation. The examples are endless of players who are succeeding on other teams after the Mets failed to re-sign him.
Back to the issue at hand, though: Are the Mets better off eating the salary of Bay?
Even before this latest head injury, Bay was 2-for-25 since returning from his rib injury that he sustained earlier this season.
With the Mets returning to the National League ballparks, and without the luxury of a designated hitter, Bay is simply not one of their best options offensively.
With a righty on the mound, Terry Collins was more than likely to use an outfield alignment of Lucas Duda in right, Kirk Nieuwenhuis in center and Bay. His injury opens the door for Scott Hairston, pinch-hitting extraordinaire, to get more at bats as a starter.
That weakens the Mets bench, considering how valuable Hairston is as a power threat.
When Mike Baxter returns from his injury, which should be a month or so, he will regain his playing time as well.
In the meantime, the Mets will likely use some combination of Torres, Captain Kirk, Valdespin or potentially a Triple-A oufielder such as Fred Lewis.
A big issue with the Mets lineup is that they have several players that have exaggerated splits against left-handed pitchers, which makes it nearly impossible for Collins to fill out a lineup card and feel confident that his young lefty hitters will get the job done.
Bay's concussion is his second one in three seasons, and the doctors will be extremely prudent in his return.
In that scenario, the Mets front office would have to realize that Bay has not only accomplished very little during his tenure, but he is taking up a spot on the 40-man roster and there is very little chance he ever returns to his form.
Alderson should cut his losses, allow Jason Bay to regain his health while not under the spotlight of New York and the Mets could actually try and receive production from left field.
Although his price tag is not cheap, the burden of carrying an underachieving player and feeling obligated to have him in the lineup would be a hindrance for Terry Collins for the remainder of 2012 and through out the 2013 campaign.
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