JASON BAY, LF
PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: Injured and a bust in the first two years of his four-year, $66-million pact with the Mets, the expectations were mild at best. Even with the fences moved in at Citi Field, nobody really expected him to become the slugger he had been with Boston, when he made the Red Sox forget Manny Ramirez. Bay homered 18 times in his first two seasons with 104 RBI. At least, that’s what the Mets anticipated for a single season. Bay’s injuries limited him to 95 games in 2010 and 123 in 2011, the latter was a concussion sustained when he slammed into the wall at Dodger Stadium. If healthy, the Mets hoped Bay would regain his power stroke and start salvaging his contract. Bay did hit 12 homers and drove in 57 runs in 2011, but had a mediocre .329 on-base percentage and .703 OPS. For his part, Bay was a positive clubhouse presence that always hustled and played defense. But, it is difficult to be a leader when you’re not producing.
2012 SEASON REVIEW: Whatever hopes the Mets might have had in rectifying Bay’s career took a serious hit last summer as another concussion limited him to 70 games. That Mets’ fans cheered Bay’s injury is reprehensible, but boiled down it was a sign of their increasing frustration with him. In many ways, Bay personified the Mets’ second-half offensive collapse. Again, Bay hustled, but only goes so far. He reached base just 41 times (32 hits and 19 walks), but he struck out 58 times, batted .165 with a .237 on-base percentage and .536 OPS. In nobody’s world is that a good season. It got to the point where manager Terry Collins said Bay’s two concussions contributed to him being sluggish at the plate. By the end of the season he was a platoon player.
LOOKING AT 2013: When the Mets signed Bay, they did so despite having a greater need for pitching, both starting and relieving. Above all else, this season represents freedom from Bay’s horrendous contract as they’ll have to pay him $16 million plus a $3 million buyout. After ridding themselves of Bay’s contract and Johan Santana’s ($25 million) after this season, the Mets will have more financial flexibility. There’s no way the Mets can escape the bust label for signing Bay; that became official a long time ago. Since he can’t be traded, Bay’s value to the Mets will be if he stays healthy and produces with power and makes them competitive. Maybe then, might somebody take him of their hands for the second half. But, don’t count on it.
NEXT: Andres Torres