The story of Jason Bay with the New York Mets is actually a sad one.
Bay had once been the property of the Mets, however, never made it to the Major Leagues his first time in the organization. He broke out with the Pittsburgh Pirates and in five-plus seasons with the Bucs, he averaged .281 with 29 homers and 92 RBI. He was traded midway through the 2008 season to Boston and had a great second half. Then in 2009, Bay had a monster year, thanks in part to the Green Monster, slugging a career high 36 homers, with a career high 119 RBI.
The Mets would sign him to a four-year deal following the 2009 season, when Bay was only 30 years old. Bay was old-school. He hustled. He got dirty. He tried. He tried real hard. But…it all went awry.
Bay would go from the small ballparks in Pittsburgh and Boston to what seemed like a cavernous Citifield. David Wright admitted that the Citifield outfield dimensions, and the way the balls carried, or, rather, didn’t carry, psyched him out after playing in pitcher-friendly Shea Stadium. Imagine what Bay felt like after playing in the band boxes in Pittsburgh and Boston.
Adding insult to injury, literally, Bay would suffer a fractured rib diving for a ball in leftfield in his first season with the Mets. And, then, he would suffer multiple concussions, while crashing into the outfield wall.
What really crashed was his career. The Mets expected to get the power hitter for the middle of the lineup to protect Wright. Instead, Bay is the one who needed protection, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Bay would only play a total of 288 games during his three seasons in a Mets uniform. He would manage to hit only 26 home runs and drive in 124.
There was reason for Mets fans to be excited at the thought of Vince Coleman, Kaz Matsui, and even Jason Bay wearing Mets uniforms. They were each, in fact, in the midst of the prime of their respective careers, all coming off outstanding seasons, with a history of success.
Unfortunately, excitement can turn to disappointment rather quickly. And in the case of Coleman, Matsui, and Bay, it can happen VERY quickly in the eyes of Mets fans.