NY Sports Day

A Christmas Gift The Mets Had To Give

Omar Minaya had a list and may have checked it twice, but most of the stores he shopped in didn’t carry what he was looking for. Regardless, he couldn’t let the kids – or in this case, the season ticket holders sitting on renewals and potential new orders – be disappointed during the holiday season. So he did what any concerned parent would do – grab something a little less extravagant at a high price at the last minute.

This semi-hypothetical situation is a mere reflection on the Mets doing their best in a thin free agent and trade market. Minaya did have an offseason checklist that was quite long and scratching a corner outfielder off of it is a positive, but did he get the right player for the team without overpaying?

The general manager brought Jason Bay to Flushing at anything but a discount and although he is a talented player, is he the cleanup-type that they were so desperately looking for? At 31, Bay still has many quality years ahead of him and should be productive for the length of the deal, but he will be making superstar money and has yet to shown that he can carry a team.

The four-year, $66-million contract both sides agreed to (pending a physical) has to make one think why it has taken nearly three weeks to hammer it out when there were clearly no other serious suitors for Bay, another glaring point in itself. The Boston Red Sox wanted to retain him and made a generous offer for the same length but $6 million less. Bay chose to test the waters out there on the open market and did not find as many takers as he may have expected.

Other than the Mets, there were no other teams making more than brief inquiries of Bay. Maybe Minaya did not bid against himself, but he is on the hook for $16.25 million a year for a player who strikes out frequently and will not make folks forget Kevin McReynolds in left field any time soon.

Bay was actually a Met farmhand at one time before being traded to the San Diego Padres in a two-for-one deal, with the main player changing addresses being righthanded reliever Steve Reeves. He then made his way to Pittsburgh and won the 2004 National League Rookie of the Year award. Playing in virtual obscurity for a team spinning its wheels, the Canadian-born outfielder was a steady hitter who played in 162, 159 and 145 games the next three seasons. He also hit 30 home runs and drove in at least 100 base runners in two of those campaigns.

In 2008, Bay was part of the three-way trade that shipped Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers and had his highest numbers as far as productivity (36 home runs, 119 RBI) last summer in his walk year. He also had his worst season as far as striking out goes with 162 Ks and his batting average (.267) was the second lowest of his career.

For a team that was lead in home runs by Jeff Francouer with 12, even the mention of someone who can hit 30 long balls is good news. But Bay is probably geared more for what he was in Boston, which was a role player with a lot of talent around him. Maybe he had to carry the load in Pittsburgh, but there was not much pressure there and championships were the furthest expectation at PNC Park. That is not the case at Citi Field.

Minaya is on the hot seat and must have felt that he needed to do something so he can say he filled a need with what was available. You can easily make the argument that the organization would have been better off waiting for a player who filled more holes if they were going to spend a large sum of money.

But that would have been a cold act at this time of year. Bah-humbug.


5 Comments

  1. DaMetsman

    January 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Sorry to have to correct some deficiencies in the story–Bay was traded from the Mets to the Pads for right-handed reliever Steve Reed. The Mets were led in the dinger department in 2009 by Daniel Murphy. Bay was dealt from San Diego to Pittsburgh along with Oliver Perez. Now that the housekeeping is complete–no doubt Bay should be a useful bat in the lineup and will supply adequate defense for a couple of seasons. The real question is whether the deal was good for the Mets over the life of the contract, which apparently has a vesting option for a 5th year. Frankly, I can’ see it working out over the life of the deal, but a lot of nice things are being said about Bay from folks like Dave Magadan and other former teammates and coaches. No doubt, the Mets are short on pure left-handed hitters in the lineup, with Murphy being the sole soul. Surely, Angel Pagan’s role is now clearly defined and, if managed properly, he can easily end up a the key bench player for the Mets. But Manuel is not known for his adroit use of personnel in the style of Gil Hodges and Casey Stengel.

  2. Bb

    January 1, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Analysis appears to be a nit biased against Omar and the Mets, like most of your posts. I guess you don’t think that Bay adds anything Good to the team or makes the Mets better. Also, most players fit in better when they are surrounded by talent, not only Bay. From what you say, Beltran and Wright must not have talent.

  3. Hawkmets

    January 1, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Would you have ripped Omar and Mets ownership if they failed to land Bay? For years I have heard fans and media complain about “Fred Coupon”, now I have to hear that they spent money to land Bay.

    I guess all of the other free agent signings in baseball were for very reasonable contracts for players who were guarentee a championship.

  4. Pete M

    January 1, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    The Mets are only slightly improved from last season’s opening day roster. Bay has replaced Delgado and Murphy has swapped positions. There are still moves to be made if we want to make a serious run in 2010. Omar gets well deserved credit for the Bay signing. Overpaying is all relative, after all, look at what Marlon Byrd got.

  5. RealityChuck

    January 1, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Your comment are logically inconsistent.

    If you think the Mets waited too long to sign Bay, then the contract isn’t too big (since a bigger contract would have cut that time). If you think the contract is too big, then the Mets didn’t wait long enough. But you can’t have it both ways.

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