The Mets: Giving Jason Bay The Bobby Bonilla Treatment
The Mets have certainly given us some colorful terms over their history. In several cases a word or two has been coined that succinctly sums up a seminal moment in the team’s history. There’s the recently broken “Fregosi Curse” that they were infected with after they traded Nolan Ryan. (Yes I know, the term originated on The Munsters, but work with me here). There’s the “Midnight Massacre;” which refers to the infamous night of June 15, 1977 when they traded Tom Seaver to the Reds. On the plus side there’s the “Buckner Game,” aka “Game Six.” More recently there’s the “Cab Ride,” the car accident that ultimately ruined both Duaner Sanchez’ career and the Mets 2006 season. Then there is “The Collapse,” which can refer to the end of either the 2007 or 2008 seasons.
There is another term used for eating massive amounts of money remaining on the contracts of unproductive and unhappy players. The Mets have done this a few times in their history, including Vince Coleman, Luis Castillo and most recently, to southpaw Oliver Perez. I think many Mets fans wish the team would just go ahead and “Ollie Perez” outfielder Jason Bay.
Bay’s rapid decline from one of the most feared hitters in the American League to one of the worst offensive players (current BA: .151) to ever don a big league uniform is the subject of tons of conjecture. I am in the “he changed pharma—err, training methods” camp, but what do I know. Well, I do know this, he is toast. At this point I believe the Mets could bring back Dave Schneck (Go Zephyrs) and he could outhit Bay.
But here’s the rub: if everything being reported in the press is true, the Mets won’t have any additional money to spend to fill several of the gaping holes in their lineup. That means if Bay is Ollie’d, a low cost alternative like Lucas Duda is the only option they will have; while the same budget constraints are also forcing them to shop in the discount rack for relief help and some right-handed outfielders. In other words, another inspiring off-season, and poor advanced ticket sales. The downward spiral continues.
Instead, the Mets need to “Bobby Bonilla” Jason Bay. Saddled with a toxic Bonilla after the 1999 season, the Mets worked out a long term buyout of Bonilla’s horrible contract and got him out of their hair. Yes, they are paying him today but at a reasonable cost (hey it isn’t my money) and if they invested the sunk cost wisely, the interest probably covers most of their annual obligation. They need to attempt the same thing here with Bay. If the reports are true and Bay is the stand-up guy he is portrayed as, he’ll go for the deal.
Bay is owed $16 million next year, with an option for $17 million in 2014 or a $3 million buy-out. Here is my proposal: bundle the $19 million he is due into a five year buy-out of evenly spaced payments. It allows Bay to save face and hopefully gives the Mets a little extra financial leeway heading into the offseason. Suddenly having $10-$12M extra might enable GM Sandy Alderson to at least shop at the big league equivalent of Kohl’s or Target instead of Five Below for additions to the roster. The problem is that the Wilpons may be too tempted to just hold on to that money and not reinvest it in the roster
So what do you think? Does this idea have merit? Or should the Mets hold on to Bay for one more year and hope for the best, trade him for another problem contract or just cut him and eat his entire salary? Sound off below.