We know Jason Bay is still owed the balance of this year’s salary, and a full season’s pay next year. Just recently, the club has informed us, A) – they will not be eating his remaining contract, and, B) – Terry Collins will be reducing Jason Bay to a part time player. At this point, we can pretty much deduce he will not be an improved player any time soon. And that my friends, is the extent of order in Jason Bay’s universe right now. Everything else regarding the beleaguered outfielder seems lost in space. So…, Ground Control, if you can hear me, - what exactly are we doing here?
I was always against signing Jason Bay, and I cringed when the Mets gave him more than three years. The acquisition wreaked of a desperate measure on behalf of Omar Minaya, AND, Jeff Wilpon both. The fact no other team bid for Jason Bay should have been a red flag from the start.
Additionally, if no one noticed at the time, Theo Epstien; then GM of the Red Sox; avoided re-signing Jason Bay as if he was toxic. Theo Epstein was still fresh from letting Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon, Nomar Garciapara, Manny Ramirez, etc., all go in various manners, and for good reason too. Maybe those reasons are only known to Theo. But that fact he avoided Jason Bay like the plague after having a fairly productive stint with the team, and especially when you consider the Red Sox had a need for him, spoke volumes to me. If Theo was convinced Jason Bay couldn’t help the Red Sox, then I surely didn’t think he could help the Mets. And with the way things were going in Flushing at the time, it was inevitable this signing would haunt them.
That said, I thought signing Jason Bay was going to turn out to be a huge mistake. Granted, outside of a possible injury the Red Sox were fearful of, Jason Bay was offering no clear or obvious indication his career was about to fall off the side of a cliff like a lemming. But at the same time, outside of Carlos Beltran, the Mets have had zero luck with regards to signing free agents. So why should we have thought this time would be any different?
Sandy Alderson’s deconstruction of the Mets remains incomplete because veterans, David Wright, Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, and Jason Bay are still on the club. Outside of Bay, the other three gentlemen require much different conversations. Jason Bay however, is the lone player who’s performance can no longer be defended. Where as the others have stepped up to offer the Mets high-end productivity in return for their checks, Jason Bay has not. In fact, he has gotten worse.
The money owed to Jason Bay is already factored into the books, the accountants already have that budgeted, and the cash involved is already effectively spent. The Mets are beyond staring at yet another $19 million dollars wasted on a product they are starting to publicly admit they will never see a return, much less realize value from. In the real world, or at a minimum in the corporate world, Jason Bay represents an unmitigated loss. And in the world of money changers, he gets written-off as such; a loss.
There is nothing the Mets can do to change that now. It doesn’t matter if the Mets put the money owed to him in escrow, in a certificate of deposit, under Fred Wilpon’s mattress, dig a whole in Jeff’s back yard and hide it, hire a Brinks truck to drive bags of Jason Bay’s money around aimlessly, or whether they decide to string out his payments through this year and next, or give it all to him stuffed into a brown paper bag right now. It just does not matter. There is no escape from the money owed to him unless another team is willing to assume full responsibility for his due salary. And the chances of that are commensurate with me finding a five-tool player to replace Jason Bay with on the surface of the sun.
What will the cost over Jason Bay’s contract be to replace him? Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ salary? Some other minor leaguer’s salary? Someone making the major league minimum? Scott Hairston’s salary, which is again, money already spent? Or, will some other poor unsuspecting Money Ball type schlep, who makes relatively little but gets on base, satisfy ownership?
Reasonably, financially, responsibly, fundamentally, rhetorically, fiscally, resoundingly, increasingly, and very obviously, there is no good reason to retain Jason Bay beyond this season’s September call-ups. Could it be the prospect of Jason Bay playing for another team for free as the Wilpons pay the bill is too much for this ownership to bear and plays into the decision regarding Bay? And if it is, that thinking is flawed, and folly. To reiterate, the money is spent; gone; poof!
At this point, there is one thing, and one thing only left to consider. Jason Bay is hurting the team. There is no future for him here. His playing time is better spent grooming a youngster. The Mets have a few prospects on the way who can potentially compete in Spring Training for a job next season. If that seems overly optimistic, and organizationally rosy of me, then what is Bay? In the player-pecking-order of Natural Selection, Jason Bay now rates somewhere below stop-gap-player, and just above washed-up.
The decision to set Jason Bay free should, for ALL intent and purpose, be an easy one to make. Retaining him is not in the best interest of the Mets; period. If the organization chooses to keep him around through 2013 for reasons other those affecting improvements to the roster, or towards the play on the field, or upgrading the quality of the bench, then they are making an unwise business decision; not to mention a terrible Baseball decision. Set him free and spare everyone from an untenable situation.
Otherwise, intellectually speaking, there is only one logical outlet for the Mets. Convince me Jason Bay will be an effective player next season, and make me believe it. As that goes, first of all, I dare them. No, I defy them to make that case. Then second of all, no right minded person would believe them. C’mon.