Like most Mets fans, I was thrilled when the Mets signed Jason Bay prior to the 2010 season; the Mets needed a power-hitting left fielder and he seemingly fit the bill. The contract didn’t seem bad at all — at four years and $66 million, it was half the contract Matt Holliday signed with the Cardinals, and Holliday wasn’t twice as good as Bay, right?
Well, it hasn’t worked out very well, to state the obvious. He somehow suffered a season-ending concussion in late July 2010 when his head hardly hit the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium. Before that, he had only hit six homers. He missed the first month of 2011 and never seemed to get on track. He did, however, double his home run total to a less than impressive 12.
Now it is 2012, and Bay could be the key to the entire Mets season. If Bay hits like he did the past two years, that leaves a massive hole in the middle of the lineup. In a lineup that already includes relatively weak hitters in Andres Torres, Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada, the Mets cannot survive with Bay being added to that list.
The conventional wisdom is that Citi Field’s massive dimensions got into his head and effected his swing, both at home and on the road. Now the thinking is that the new smaller dimensions will allow Bay (and the rest of the hitters, frankly) to relax and not assume that they have to absolutely crush a ball to get it over the wall.
I can remember at least a half a dozen balls Bay smoked off of that high wall in left that went for doubles rather than home runs. That has got to be demoralizing.
It will obviously be interesting to watch and see if Bay has a bounce-back year because of the new dimensions. It will also be interesting to hear what he has to say if that is the case because back in his introductory news conference, he didn’t seem concerned about Citi Field:
“For those of you who don’t know, and I’m sure most of you do, Pittsburgh is very spacious as well, and you play half your games on the road. I’m not really concerned. It’s something that’s there, but you go out and I’m confident in the type of player I am. Ballpark or not, I’m still going to do what I do. So that had zero factor in anything in my decision.”