Are Concussions Affecting Jason Bay’s Play?

By Matt Musico

We all know the kind of season Jason Bay has had; there are a number of words fans want to use to describe, but if I had to choose one, it would be abysmal. Even though Joey from Friends would think that’s fantastic, it’s the farthest thing from it. Adam Rubin wrote a story yesterday saying Terry Collins feels the two concussions Bay has suffered over the last three seasons have played a part for his poor play, and some scouts have also mentioned lingering effects of the injuries could be slowing his reaction time.

In talking about Bay’s struggles this season and any connection to his past injuries, Collins had this to say about his left fielder:

"“I just think that those concussions take an effect on guys. There are times when you see everything you thought that he could bring to the table — great defender, a good thrower, power, a tremendous teammate. And then, all of a sudden, there will be some times where he struggles. He has no answers to it. This time in his career, we know it’s still there. Hopefully with the winter recovery, maybe you’ll get something next spring that will really come forward.”"

This is just bologna; there is sticking up for your players and then there is handing them excuses hand over foot. If you ask Jason about

Sep 10, 2012; Flushing, NY,USA; New York Mets left fielder Jason Bay (44) grounds out to the catcher during the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

his 2012 season, he would say that it’s just been flat out awful. Whether it had anything to do with his injury or not, it’s still awful. Collins has made it a point to hand out excuses for players like Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada already over the last couple weeks because they’re “tired,” and these comments are just the latest.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that concussions are serious injuries. It’s not like he stubbed a toe and came back a week later. However, if they still feel he’s having lingering effects and it’s affecting his play, then he shouldn’t be playing. He shouldn’t have been pushed through his rehab assignments to get back to the MLB roster. There was not one time during his rehab that he showed he could be a valuable contributor to the team, but they activated him anyway, and took away playing time from productive players at the time, like Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda.

An anonymous scout drew a comparison between Bay and Justin Morneau, who many have felt hasn’t been the same since his 2010 concussion. His 2011 season was injury-shortened (69 games) and he struggled with a .227/.285/.333 line, he’s come back to have a great bounce back season, as he’s been a force in the middle of a struggling Twins lineup, sporting a .278/.340/.470 line with 19 homers and 75 RBI. After getting shut down for a while, he was able to recover correctly and produce close to his career norms before he suffered his injury.

In Bay’s 179 ABs in 2012, he’s hitting a paltry .156/.235/.285 with 7 homers and 20 RBI. I’m tired of hearing the excuses as to why he’s not producing, and why the heck is he still in the lineup if he’s not 100%? He needs to be sitting on his couch at home, making sure he’ll be ready for Spring Training, where he’ll have to prove that he’s worth keeping on the roster for 2013. Bay’s poor play runs much deeper than his concussions, but it’s not fair to keep putting him in the lineup if they suspect something else is up with his health.

One would think that if one of their highest paid players (owed $16 million in ’13) was showing some signs of not being completely healthy, they would shut him down until he was, like how they’re approaching the situation with Johan Santana, and what the Twins did with Morneau. It just doesn’t make sense to me; Tejada and Murphy are a little tired, so Collins sits them to get their energy back, yet Bay may still be dealing with side effects from his concussions, but he’s not worried about putting him out on the field.