The Daily News reports Wednesday that the Mets are kicking around the idea of moving Jason Bay to center field. It is an intriguing idea to say the least.
After being billed as a weak defender, Bay has played an excellent left field for the Mets. Despite its vast dimensions (which could become smaller if the fences are moved in), I think Bay could handle center in Citi Field. He is no stranger to the position — he played 40 games there over the first three years of his career. He did commit three errors.
I’m not crazy about the rest of the plan spelled out in the report. The Mets want to find a way to get Daniel Murphy’s bat into the lineup every day, but after watching him suffer a second season-ending knee injury while trying to turn a double play, they are wondering of second base is the best place for him. A return to left field could be in the offing.
Did they actually watch Murphy in left field in 2009? It was embarrassing, through no fault of his own; he’s just not an outfielder. His best position is first base, but the Mets have Ike Davis there. I could see Davis moving to the outfield if the Mets sign Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, but not to make room for Murphy. No, Murphy should remain at second and be tutored how to better turn the double play.
As one NL scout said contemplating an outfield of Murphy, Bay and Lucas Duda, “Oh my God.”
The report said team brass is not very impressed with Angel Pagan (latecomers to the club). If he’s sent packing, then it would be much easier to find a corner outfielder who can hit and slide Bay to center than it would be to find a center fielder who can hit.
There is one comment in the report I find baffling:
As a second team official observed, moving Bay to center would remove the onus to be a slugging outfielder. A center fielder who hits 12-15 homers, runs the bases well and posts a respectable on-base percentage is more acceptable than a corner outfielder who offers that production.
That is nonsense. Whatever position Bay is playing, he will still be expected to hit home runs. It doesn’t become more acceptable in center than in right. He’s still making the same $66 million — money he was paid to hit the ball out of the park, not to be a singles hitter, regardless of position.
In any case, it’s nice to see the Mets front office thinking creatively. That hasn’t happened in a long, long time.