Mets Land Bay
Yesterday the New York Mets finally got their man, agreeing to terms with LF Jason Bay on a 4-year $66 million dollar deal. It seemed like a perfect match, Bay was the best hitter on the market and the Mets were a team devoid of power last season. Bay gets to sign for roughly the money he wanted and for a team with a solid nucleus that can compete in the National League. The real question though is how will Bay translate into Citi Field. Citi Field is without a doubt a pitcher’s park, but I think reports of it being ‘death to hitters’ is greatly exaggerated.
Much of this theory, especially the ominous belief that it kills right-handed hitter power, seems to come from the major drop off in production by All-star David Wright last season. In 2008 his slugging percentage was .534 (and had been .523 or better since he entered the league), this past season it dropped to .447. His home run numbers had an even more precipitous fall, peaking at 33 in 2008 and falling down to 10 last season (he did have about 100 less at bats, but that doesn’t account for the entire drop off). No one seems to consider the possibility that Wright just had a fluky down year, and everyone assumes that Wright’s drop-off was due solely to Citi Field, so logically no one can hit there. False, Wright hit 5 home runs at home last season and 5 on the road (and he had a couple more games and 20 more at bats on the road). Yes, his overall offensive numbers were down at home, but not to the point where you’d legitimately worry that it is affecting his offensive production. Bay’s numbers will translate just fine to New York and Citi Field, it’s his defensive numbers that will cause the biggest concern.
Citi Field is a spacious outfield, and Bay isn’t anywhere close to a Gold Glover out there. While I don’t think he’s as bad defensively as some defensive numbers suggest (Fenway is tough for any left fielder), Bay will give up some runs with his glove. It is even a more pronounced problem, because the Met’s pitching staff is so bad right now. Unless they find some quality arms (and soon), Bay will likely get more than his fair share of balls in left. Overall though I like this move for the Mets, it answers some of the Phillies moves, and will give the Mets the offense they need to compete (once they find a couple of arms to go with Pelfrey and Santana).