Jason Bay: No News is Good News?

jasonbayA blizzard has come and gone, and still Jason keeps the Mets at Bay (bad, I know, but couldn’t resist).

But for Jason Bay, time is running out — quickly. He managed to alienate the team he should be signing with, the Red Sox, and they have moved on by signing Mike Cameron. Four more years in Fenway Park would’ve been ideal for padding his stats for a rare second free agency jackpot at age 35 — because he IS going to be worth $16M+ when he’s 35, isn’t he?

Ah, and that’s why I say “no news is good news”: because we know he’s unlikely to be worth that kind of money playing in a park made for Lilliputians, much less one whose dimensions are similar to that of the Grand Canyon.

Bay is a very good all-around ballplayer, and one the Mets can use in their lineup right now — never mind his defensive limitations (people seem to forget 2009′s planned leftfielder was a two-headed Frankenstein made from Dan Murphy and Fernando Tatis). And there’s a good chance Bay will be a good #5 hitter in 2010 and probably 2011. But should your #5 hitter be the third-highest-paid player on your roster? Shouldn’t a man earning that much money be so good that he’s guaranteed an at-bat in the first inning? Or at worst, be a cleanup hitter who can carry the club on his back for weeks at a time?

Therein lies the problem — and one that the Red Sox knew well enough to exit the bidding. Jason Bay is not worth superstar money, and certainly will not be worth it beyond his 34th year of life. He does have power, and his 21 jacks away from Boston prove his homer total is not a product of Fenway. But his batting average dropped considerably, particularly against righthanders, and his OBP was a startling 44 points higher at home. Also bothersome is the fact he hit best buried in the #6 spot in the order (.296 AVG / .429 OBP / 1.035 OPS in 48 games) and hit his worst in the cleanup spot (.234 / .333 / .811 in 52 games). While it’s true his comfort at #6 in 2009 was something of an aberration compared to the rest of his career, it does make you wonder. He was the regular cleanup hitter for lowly Pittsburgh, but on the pennant-contending Red Sox, he was clearly uncomfortable as “the man” in the middle of the lineup. Which is a problem, since the Mets desperately need someone to be “the man”.

That said, if Jason Bay is to sign with the Mets, he will be positioned as “the man” — not unlike Carlos Beltran was back in 2005, and we know how well that worked out. Sure, Bay might do for Beltran what Carlos Delgado did (or vice-versa), but are you willing to bet $64M on it?

No news from Bay continues to be good news for the Mets because each day Bay’s suitors dwindle — just yesterday, Seattle made a move for Milton Bradley that presumably removes them from the bidding. The Mets’ offer to Bay is already a bit too high, but it wouldn’t be a colossal mistake if he accepted. However, it would be if they upped the ante now. If Bay is truly interested in playing in New York for more than just the money, he’ll sign today. But his behavior has suggested otherwise — it appears he’s using the Mets’ offer as leverage to play elsewhere. If that’s true, then again: no news is good news, because to be a star in New York City you must be a challenge-seeker, and one who thrives on the big stage. If Jason Bay is not that type of guy then let him find a deal where he’ll be more comfortable. In the end, it will be best for everyone.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. [...] Joe Janish of MetsToday.com is evaluating where things may stand between Jason Bay and the Mets. On a similar note, Bart Hubbuch of the NY [...]
  2. isuzudude December 21, 2009 at 11:29 am
    Very well said, Joe. And at this pace, with potential suitors going by the wayside for Bay, the Mets may be inclined to LOWER their offer rather than increase it, in terms of dollar amount or length. Same applies for Bengie Molina. These two clowns are waiting themselves into smaller and smaller contracts with each passing day. I just hope Omar and company see it the same way. So far, it seems as though they do.
  3. Mic December 21, 2009 at 11:41 am
    Joe: Been waiting for you to weigh in and as usual we were not disappointed. This is among the best pieces out there on the situation…certainly better than the media is writing.

    The media is entrenched in writing about a Citifield effect and the Mets HAVE to up offer extra. BUT here YOU have noted that Bay is worth $60m as an all round player…AS such why should the Mets bid against themselves?

    He wont carry a team but that said I doubt holliday would either. Holliday had Ankiel and Pujols. We have Wright and Beltran. I dont want Bay hitting clean-up, but IF he can hit 6th ( or 5th) and be productive that’s fine….thats where our production died anyway. Reyes/pagan get on base, castillo can, Wright does, CB then nothing. The ‘power’ of this team is not in the ‘bombers’ but this team can beat you from station to station, with a minimum of strikeouts.

    The thing I like about Bay is unlike the traditional slugger he is not a true streak hitter (i dont think) but is consistent. that said…I might put in a bid (ala boston) on Matt Holiday.

  4. Jason Bay December 21, 2009 at 12:08 pm
    Oh, um, hi Omar. I’m fine. How’s Vieques? Yeah, uh, actually, I have a date for New Year’s Eve. O-KAY, eh, YEAH, I will totally keep your number handy though. Afterparty? I don’t know – can I call you back? Yes, I have your backup cel number ALREADY. Bye Omar.
  5. Walnutz15 December 21, 2009 at 3:28 pm
    Cross another starting pitcher off the list….wonder what he’s gonna get?

    http://masnsports.com/2009/12/nats-to-sign-jason-marquis.html

  6. gary s. December 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm
    good post joe.. bay wants to play elsewhere or he would have signed and the mets don’t really seem to want him or they would have taken the steps to lock him up a week ago.pathetic..if the mets really want him, give him 48 hours to sign and than pull the offer..we are becoming the laughingstock of mlb.we can lose without jason bay..
  7. Mic December 21, 2009 at 6:45 pm
    Hmm. Lets see. There is NO market for Bay. So why hurry. Bay can hope for a better offer (remember Derek Lowe?), but the Mets can make a trade or go for Holliday….Here’s an idea trade for…not Miggy Cabrera but the OTHER OF Magglio Ordonez. My guess is thats a salary dump we could get in on.

    As for Marquis…thats great news. Oh and I expect a withdrawal of the offer to Molina. I’d deal for Navarro or sign Yorvit. This is the second time Benji has flaunted a Mets offer.

  8. sincekindergarten December 22, 2009 at 7:20 am
    Ken Rosenthal has a column up on Fox Sports which is basically prodding the Mets to hurry up and sign Bay, IMO. I like the idea of giving him an ultimatum. But then, resign Delgado to an incentive-laden deal, and count on Angel Pagan as the LF. I can live with an outfield of Pagan, Beltran, and Francoeur.

    BTW–anyone know how Delgado is going in the PR winter leagues?

  9. isuzudude December 22, 2009 at 10:53 am
    SK:
    As far as I can tell, Delgado isn’t playing winter baseball, despite numerous reports to the contrary. I thumbed through the rosters of the Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Mexican leagues, and didn’t find Delgado’s name anywhere. I did find Carlos Beltran’s name, though, here: http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=t_ros&sid=l133&cid=688. However, Beltran hasn’t played in any games. It’s all very strange to me. I only wish the media would concentrate less on rah-rahing the Mets to hurry up and sign Jason Bay and instead perhaps do some reporting and tell us status updates on Delgado, Beltran, Reyes, Santana, Cora, Francoeur, etc. You know, like maybe actually doing their job instead of playing fantasy GM.
  10. Walnutz15 December 22, 2009 at 12:30 pm
    Wait’ll:

    - Bay signs with the Braves,
    - Holliday either stays with the Cards, or goes to The Yankees (inexplicably…lol); and
    - The Mets sign Jermaine Dye to play LF.

    Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!!

    *cues Hark, The Herald Angels Sing*

  11. javan kivasa December 23, 2009 at 5:46 am
    all these ball players scratch their balls during their free time and score big during play time. but really its just a game and though they have the extraordinary skills to play it well what use is it in real life. a beggar may have the same underhand throw that this Bay of Bengal has but he doesn’t get jack for all he’s worth…which is kind of sad.