While Terry Collins has always been patient with Jason Bay, even he has to be sick of his perforemance right now. He stuck with him these past two years based on his long track-record of success in Pittsburgh and Boston. However, his leash with Bay is shortening, as it should be.
Prior to Friday night’s game in Arizona, Collins told reporters that it could be Mike Baxter who gets the starting left fielder job when he returns from the DL. Baxter is 21-for-65 in limited playing time, but even considering how small his sample size is this season, virtually anything is better than Jason Bay, who is hitting .170 at the moment.
Bay will only have a few more weeks to regain the form that earned him the four-year, $66 million contract he earned before the 2009 season.
This may also be Bay’s last season as a Met. It seems unlikely that Sandy Alderson would trade him now, especially since Scott Hairston could go as well, but this offseason may be the perfect time to deal him, if there was one. Bay has one more year left on his contract at $16 million and a $17 million option for 2014 if he gets to 600 plate appearances.
I could see (and certainly hope) that somehow, the Mets can pull of a deal similar to the one that sent A.J. Burnett to the Pirates in February. However, Sandy Alderson will probably be willing to accept any trade that takes Bay off his hands. Any amount of salary that the receiving team would be willing to take on is just an added bonus. Bay really needs to get out of New York. He needs a change of scenery, as well as a hitting coach that can get him back to whatever he was doing in Pittsburgh and Boston that he hasn’t been doing since. A major resurgence for him as a Met seems extremely unlikely at this point.
Bay can’t go into next season under contract with the Mets. If he does. he will be put in almost an impossible situation for him to deal with. Not only will fans be booing him in every at-bat, but there will be mounting pressure on Terry Collins to not use Bay as much so he does not reach the 600 plate appearances, much like what happened last year with Francisco Rodriguez. That’s a distraction that the team won’t be able to handle.
I respect Jason Bay. He’s a professional and is just as upset (probably more) as all of us fans are about his performance. But there’s one thing that’s clear: he has to go.