Throughout spring training, I have heard interviews and read many articles about Jason Bay and his approach to hitting. Every Mets fan, let alone baseball fan knows of Bay's woes. For someone who was a solid power hitter before joining the Mets, with the Mets he has been more of a power outage.
This spring Bay is trying to simplify his approach, and get back to his hitting basics - the basics that made him a three time All Star before signing with the Mets.
Over the 40 years I have lived and died with this team, there have been many players that have fizzled out as Mets. But there is one other former All Star that Bay's meteoric plummet resembles...Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar.
Before joining the Mets in 2002, Alomar had a solid year for the Cleveland Indians: 20 HR; 100 RBI; .336 AVG; All Star and Gold Glove winner. When the Mets acquired him for Alex Escobar, Matt Lawton, Jerrod Riggan, Earl Snyder, and Billy Traber - it seemed like it might be one of the best trades the Mets ever made. What happened? Alomar couldn't get out of NY fast enough. Did Cleveland know something the Mets didn't? It certainly appears they did.
With Bay, the Mets signed the All Star LF as a free agent for 4 years $66M. In 2009 with Boston, Bay hit: 36 HR; 113 RBI; .267 AVG; All Star selection and Silver Slugger winner.
Alomar's career with the Mets lasted almost two seasons (2002-2003). His stats:
222 Games 226 Hits 13 HR 123 K's .265 AVG .333 OBP
Jason Bay has completed two years with the Mets (2010-2011). His stats:
218 Games 199 Hits 18 HR 200 K's .251 AVG .337 OBP
Scary, isn't it?
I have not killed Bay too much. In 2010 it was his first year in NY, and I gave him a mulligan - much the same way I gave Carlos Beltran a mulligan in 2005. Bay's concussion certainly didn't help, and the adjustment from Fenway to Citi was probably difficult. But last year was a nightmare also. He did finish the season up strong, and hopefully that will carry over into this season.
The problem is, this spring Bay has been awful. He is 7-33 (.212) with no HR's and no RBI.
Bay has said:
“I honestly don’t know what my average is, but I know I don’t have a home run, I know I don’t have an R.B.I., I know all that. I’m not standing here telling you results don’t matter. But we’ve got a timetable to try to figure things out. That’s what this time is for, and I feel like now I have a pretty good grasp going forward.”
I won't kill Bay because I was all for the Mets getting him in the 2009 off-season. I wanted him more than Matt Holliday, and I thought he would do well in Flushing. Half way through his contract, and I have been totally wrong. Hopefully Bay will prove naysayers wrong and have a great season. The Mets even moved in the outfield walls to help him and David Wright.
The edge I give Bay over Alomar is that Bay is a good guy. Teammates look at him as a leader, and he has never shied away from the press after a bad game (or season).
I truly hope Bay turns his Mets career around. His stats thus far are eerily familiar to another Mets player that was abhorred by fans. Hopefully Bay won't be remembered in the same breath as Roberto Alomar.
Sources: New York Times, Baseball Reference, Cots Baseball Contracts