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Time to Consider Releasing Jason Bay

By Mike Silva ~ April 12th, 2012. Filed under: New York Mets.

The obvious issue with Jason Bay is the .158 batting average glares from the scoreboard. Even more concerning is the process he’s employed to get to this point. Throughout the spring and first week of the season, Bay has looked confused and anemic at the plate. Very few of his plate appearances are of quality. Even left handers haven’t been a tonic for his slump. His first two seasons in New York were disappointing, considering the 4-year/$66 million dollar contract. This year is off to a disastrous start where decisions about his future may need to be made within the next week or so.

Terry Collins indicated on WFAN that it is possible Bay could be dropped in the lineup as early as Friday. For as much as the team needs a right handed power bat to break up Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, they can’t afford an automatic out, which is what Bay has become. Justin Turner would be a better option, right now, than Bay at the plate.

Dropping Bay in the order may not be the ultimate solution. It may be time to think about admitting he is a sunk cost that will never succeed in New York. It may be time to consider releasing him.

Bay’s struggles not only hurt the Mets on offense, but he is clogging up left field for Lucas Duda. I love Duda’s bat, but it’s clear he is defensively challenged in the outfield. Right field is just not a good position for him, as I believe he would better be suited to man left. An outfield of Duda in left, Andres Torres (when he returns) in center and Kirk Nieuwenhuis in right is better offensively and defensively.

Before taking the drastic step of releasing Bay, you have to give him an opportunity to prove himself. That won’t happen on the bench, nor is it productive to watch him flailing at big league pitching. I would suggest to Bay and his agent a two-week stint down in Buffalo. Let him play left field every day for the Herd. There would be no pressure, no Citi Field catcalls. See if he could work out his slump in the lowest pressure surroundings - the minor leagues.

If his process looks to be improving, then you call him back up and see what he can accomplish. I would give him another short leash - two weeks, tops- to perform in a Mets uniform. If not, then it’s time to move on.

I think any hope of Bay returning to production in the starting lineup or on the bench are long gone. The looming $17 million dollar vesting option for 2014 is also a concern. If Bay accumulates 500 plate appearances the next two years, or 600 next season, that money becomes guaranteed. Even if Bay returns to form in a small sample, does anyone believe he will be any better three years from now? That salary could be used in many more productive ways.

Releasing Bay will allow the team to move on and put Duda in left field, where he belongs. It won’t be cheap, as they will owe him the remainder of his $16 million this year, another $16 million next year and the $3 million dollar buyout of the vesting option. Can the team afford to eat $35 million dollars? The better question is do they hold on to this $35 million and risk owing an additional $17 million on top of it.

What really is the alternative? You can put Bay on the bench as a right handed bat. You can bring him in for defense and the occasional start against a lefty. I am not sure he will be any more productive in that role. As a matter of fact, his struggles demand more repetitions, not a role that limits his time on the field.

I also guess you can try and trade him, but that vesting option will still be an issue. Someone might take him for free if you pick up the entire salary, but why do that if it could cost you that 2014 payment?

At this point you have to believe it’s time for Jason Bay and the Mets to part ways. It was a well-intentioned marriage that has gone sour. Bay needs to go somewhere else and see if he has anything left in the tank. The fans have lost patience and the team needs to move away from any negativity.

Normally April isn’t the time to suggest such drastic measure, but in the case of Jason Bay this is coming to a head.

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9 Responses to Time to Consider Releasing Jason Bay

  1. tnt

    video killed the radio star,and citiifield killed the baseball star

  2. Daler

    Like the Mets would ever waste $. Cheap org

  3. Dallas

    Yeah I think you give him a month, 2 max the cut the cord. I think you meant to say vesting option for 2014 btw not 2015. The Mets are planning for the future and Bay should not be a part of it unless he turns around and starts hitting 30+ homers again.

  4. Reese

    They have eaten Bonilla’s contract, Ollie’s contract, Castillo’s contract…there is precedent. While I’m as frustrated as anyone watching Bay play every day, my take on it is quite different.

    You advocate an outfield of Nieuwenhuis essentially replacing Bay. Would he be better? Maybe, maybe not. He never exactly tore it up in the minors. The Achilles heel offensively is really not Bay, but Torres. In his BEST season he put up numbers similar to what Bay did in his worst. He’s also no kid and shouldn’t be considered part of the future either.

    In my mind, you leave Valdespin down in AAA to get a half season in playing the outfield, then you consider two changes — an outfield in New York with Duda, Nieuwenhuis and Valdepsin, with Torres becoming the new Endy Chavez off the bench. Once you’re able to make this positive change for the offense then you can consider releasing Bay. Until then, swapping out Bay but keeping Torres in the lineup isn’t really helping much.

  5. Mike Silva

    We are in different times Reese. Asking this club to eat $35 million is a lot considering their financial situation. Plus, if they let Bay go and, let’s say, he goes to Philly and finds his stroke, then they have egg on their face.

    I think a MILB stint is what I would agree to if I were Bay, especially if he doesn’t improve on this upcoming road trip.

  6. Chuck Johnson

    Bay .158, Duda .136.

    I think you’re advocating sending down the wrong guy.

  7. Mike Silva

    I have seen Duda hit the ball, he is fine, Bay’s process is a whole other thing

  8. Stu B

    Perhaps now that he’s hit a homer, they can be a bit patient and give him 150-200 ABs before making a rash decision.

  9. MPB

    Your solution of sending him to the minors would never fly for extra-baseball reasons. The union and his pride would never agree to it. It is well within Jason Bay’s right to refuse the possibility of becoming a permanent minor leaguer again, and much like Jason Giambi in 2005, there will be union pressure not to have a major league team set this sort of precedence for its union members. This is a veteran guy, if he can’t fix his swing in the majors (which seems to be the case) then he is professionally finished.

    He is clearly not going to give up anytime soon, and the money is already a lost cause: How the Mets respond will be less than ideal for all parties involved.

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