Jason Bay Released: And Like That, Suddenly, the Long Nightmare Ends. It’s a New Day.

Jimmy:

It’s nice to be surprised every once in a while. These days I often think the worst about ownership, so, yes, the dramatic release of Jason Bay today was really something. Our worst nightmare, vanished. It’s a new day. (This move clears the way for Melky in LF, btw, but we’ll deal with that another time.)

I remember the winter of the Bay signing. At that point, as I recall, Mike, you were getting calls from the Mets ticket sales force — they were suddenly being nice to you, for the first time in team history — and that sent a clear signal to you that ownership felt they HAD TO DO SOMETHING BIG to capture the interest of fans. Not that you approved or didn’t approve, just that you clearly said to me, “They are going to sign Bay; they are too afraid to not do something.”

Mike:

Yes, I remember. It was the off-season following year one at Citifield, so attendance and revenues were good as the team profited from all the people who wanted to see the new stadium. But Madoff had already hit and Citifield was a disaster, so you kind of knew that spending was going to suffer over time, the signals had already started. Based on all the people I know (including myself) who had decided not to renew season tickets after 2009 the Wilpons had to be freaking that winter. It was incredible how many 20 year-plus season ticket holders were bailing. The problem was the owners didn’t understand there was nothing they could do about it, season ticket holders were getting out in droves because Citifield was overpriced and, well, sucks. Prices (and Revenue) were going to have to come down no matter what the team did. But no surprise, the Wilpons did not understand the situation and they hardly altered the laughable ticket prices (which finally began to really move a year later). Instead they signed Bay.

Jimmy:

Confession: I was okay with the Bay signing, didn’t foresee the bottom falling out the way it did. Historically, the big problem with the Wilpons — well, there are several — but one big problem is that once we get stuck with a bad contract, they have been unable to cut losses and move forward. Which is why dumping Bay is such a stunning, astonishing move. I didn’t think it was in their DNA. The Wilpons have this long, grim history of non-productive guys like Perez, Castillo, Matsui, and Bay absolutely killing the team long after it’s been clear they needed to go. I don’t care what anyone says, rolling Bay out there had to be DEPRESSING for that team. Just a terrible signal from ownership to the players: nope, we’re not really trying. With free agency, mistakes will happen — but the Wilpons always compounded those mistakes by holding on far too long.

I remember when they wouldn’t dump “Super Joe” McEwing — despite consecutive seasons with an OPS of .538, .601, and .609. They just waited, and waited, until finally they released him during Spring Training of 2005. And this was a guy earning less than a million! (By the way, Dan Szymborski, upon McEwing’s release, posted on the Baseball Think Factory: “Finally, the Mets make up for the Black Friday trades. OK, maybe not, but despite the tears of people that are sad to see Super Joe depart, the Mets are a better team without him, even before considering the Mets invited a million players better than McEwing to camp this year. Sayonara, Clutch Midget.”

Mike:

This has always been a problem with Fred. He cringes at the thought of ever releasing a player, no matter the consequences. But since Alderson came on board this is the third time the Mets have eaten some serious money (the others being the last years of the Castillo and Perez deals). Fair is fair. As for Bay, he has always been cited as a great guy so I hate to dance on his grave, but it was impossible to see how he could help the Mets anymore and this move allows the team to move on.

It’s ironic, the Mets signed Bay to show their fans they were still serious about fielding a winning team, and now might be showing us the same thing by releasing him.

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12 comments

  1. Dan says:

    I am glad to see management (including ownership) making the move that needed to be made. Now Bay can try and hit from someone elses coaching box (you couldn’t stand any further from the plate unless you were in the stands), as long as it is not ours.

    Let’s hope management uses the funds saved, assuming there is some financial benefit, for an outfielder, because as I see it, we are a team without one starting outfielder on the roster. Not one.

  2. Maybe it was a stipulation in the Wright negotiations. David, shaking his head, saying, “You tell me you want to win, but I’m looking at left field and . . .”

    • Dan says:

      Good point. The silence around the Wright discussions can’t be about money, it is probably Wright asking for a plan on what they are going to do to make this team better. He probably said, I can’t go through another season like this, I am not waiting till 2014.

      I can’t imagine numbers haven’t been discussed yet. Even if the starting point was 6 years $100MM.

  3. Or maybe Fred was like, “We’ve got to do something to relieve the pain and suffering of these storm victims.”

  4. Dan says:

    According to USA Today, the deal allows the Mets to spread what is owed over several years.

    “Bay was owed $16 million for next season and a $3 million buyout of a 2014 option, plus the final $2 million installment of his $8.5 million signing bonus was payable by next June. The agreement allows the Mets to spread out the payments, a person familiar with the agreement said, speaking on condition of anonymity because that detail was not announced.”

  5. Alan K says:

    Let’s see how the Mets invest the money they have freed up by making this arrangement. The fact that Bay is no longer on the roster, coupled with Duda’s injury would appear to make it imperative that the Mets address the outfield. With limited trade chips, it probably increases the possibility of a Melky Cabrera signing or a similar type move.

  6. Kelly G says:

    Now the fans in the left-field seats will have to look at someone else’s ass.

  7. Brian Joura says:

    I like the back-and-forth nature that you’ve got going on. Makes it very conversational and should naturally lead to lots of comments, which is always a good thing.

    The Mets are going to eat around $21 million on this contract, which is about the most money a team has ever done in a similar situation. Records on this are sketchy, but when I researched it a couple of years ago, the biggest dollar amount I could find was the $22 million that the Diamondbacks swallowed when they released Russ Ortiz back in 2006.

    My recollection is that there were a lot of stunned people when Arizona did that. But it turned out to be the right thing to do. In parts of four seasons after he was released by the D’Backs, Ortiz posted a combined (-0.1) fWAR.

    It’s bad enough you have to pay them – no sense compounding the problem by being dragged down by their lack of production, too.

    • Brian Joura, welcome! I love your work at Mets360, such a terrific site. Thanks for stopping by.

      With Bay, we knew it was inevitable, but I thought we’d have to go through Spring Training, and a rough April, and vague inconsistent platooning, before finally releasing Bay in May. Have to hand it to Sandy (and Fred) for making the bold, decisive move now. I’m still trying to process what it MEANS, exactly, but in the best world it suggests that Alderson has not completely given up on 2013.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Brian, thanks a lot for stopping in on us on this brutal day in NYC. I think you’ve nailed it, there was no sense compounding the problem. Doing this now allows the team to move forward and Bay was always going to get his money. There are conflicting reports, but if the team was able to restructure the timing that will help too as it could create some needed salary wiggle room for 2013.

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