So the Bay-watch is now over and Jason Bay is on his way to the big ballyard next to Flushing Bay.
You have to give the Mets credit here. A reportedly four-year, $66 million deal give the Mets their left fielder for the next four seasons, while adding a big bat in the idle of the lineup, one that has been missing since Carlos Delgado’s hip went out on him in the middle of May.
But let’s not call it an off-season yet. There’s still a lot of work to do. The Mets still need a catcher and of course a front of the line starter to compliment Johan Santana.
Now it seems like they are close to grabbing Bengie Molina to catch, and if that doesn’t work, the Mets can get Rod Barajas behind the plate. But that No. 2 starter? Well that’s another question.
There’s not much out there for the Mets. Joel Pineiro interests the club, especially after a 15-win season, but you have to wonder if that was Dave Duncan’s magic at work. Or they could explore a trade for Carlos Zambrano, but that’s seems like a long shot given the pitcher’s no-trade clause in his contract. Or the Mets can go and grab a reclamation project like Ben Sheets or Chien-Ming Wang, but that would just add another question mark to a team with rehabbing players.
Yet, that’s the story of the Mets for this off-season. They can fill their holes nicely, but without a healthy club in 2010, there will be no chance for competing for the post season. Jose Reyes needs to run at full speed, while Carlos Beltran has to have healthy knees. Johan Santana needs a healthy knee and elbow, while David Wright has to learn how to hit with power again.
Unless that happens, signing Jason Bay is just academic.
Speaking of Bay, you have to wonder if he really wanted to be here. Without any other offer, the 31 year-old outfielder sat and waited for the Mets to flinch on their initial four-year offer. But without anybody else competing for his services, you have to wonder if he really wanted to play in Queens. Next week, we will hear how much he loved the organization in 2002 when he was a Met farmhand and how much he loves New York and always wanted a chance to prove himself here. But his actions – or in this case inactions – the last three weeks tell another story.
You also have to wonder why the Red Sox bowed out so quickly. There are rumors about the health of his shoulders and if there are long term problems, will he make it through the life of the contract? Or will the Mets see another high priced free agent produce for a year or two, and then succumb to age in jury?
General manager Omar Minaya is on the hot seat, so he may be thinking of the near term rather than the bigger picture, while COO Jeffrey Wilpon is desperate to sell season ticket plans, which have dropped off to a snail’s pace. Bay could be the quick fix they are seeking for those problems, but it doesn’t mean it translates into wins in 2010.
Sure Bay does make the club better, but without the upgrades at other positions, the Mets will be desperately undermanned in a division that’s getting tougher and tougher every day.