The Glass Is Three-Quarters Empty and the Last Quarter Is Crappy Warm Beer Version: The Mets have signed the runner-up left fielder — the one who’s not as good a defender, who will probably not age as well as a hitter, and reportedly didn’t want to play here — to a four-year deal that’s really a five-year deal. Oh, and the news was delivered by the loathsome Mike Francesa, who it seems really did have big news to announce.
As someone suffering from BMFS*, there’s a nasty temptation to leave it there. Jason Bay will reportedly be a Met early next week, pending the results of a physical, which Jon Heyman warns may not be just a formality in this case. According to Joel Sherman, the deal is four years for $66 million, but there’s a fifth year that vests if Bay hits some fairly easy statistical threshold. This is the same Jason Bay whom Peter Gammons said would rather play in Beirut, a soundbite he and you will be heartily sick of by the Ides of March. (I’ve already made use of it twice, so blame me too.) Wrong guy, impatient Mets, too much money, too many years, physical issues, bad karma, Mike Francesa. Sound familiar?
The This Ain’t No Flute of Champagne Place, So STFU and Drink Version: Matt Holliday is a key offensive player around whom you can build, and worth a mega-deal. OK, granted. But the signs were pointing to Omar not having a long enough financial leash to get Holliday and/or Holliday being ticketed for a return to St. Louis, with the most likely outcome of a Holliday courtship being Scott Boras using the Mets to get another few ounces of flesh out of St. Louis — possibly while some other team took Bay off the board, leaving the Mets looking at a full year of Angel Pagan and Jeff Francoeur in the corners or some desperate, misguided trade we’d all wind up moaning about. The 2010 edition of Jason Bay has drawbacks, and the 2014 edition may have decayed into little more than drawbacks, but 36 home runs and 119 RBI isn’t to be sneezed at, even with the fact that those numbers were put up with a major-league lineup around him. As drawbacks go, there’s worrying about how Jason Bay will age and there’s trying to think of a reason to watch a lineup that includes Fernando Tatis and Anderson Hernandez and Wilson Valdez. As for the Beirut stuff, whatever. Winning cures regret as effectively as money cures trepidation. When Keith Hernandez was traded to the Mets, his first move was to call his agent and ask if he had enough money socked away to retire. Fortunately for Keith and for us, he didn’t. It worked out.
The Mets still aren’t a great team, not by any means. They still have thin starting pitching, bad infield defense, not a lot of offense at first base, question marks attached to every single member of their once-vaunted core, can’t figure out how to diagnose and/or deal with injuries and must deal with the small problem that more and more of their fans reflexively distrust anything they say, whether the subject is player moves, ticket prices or commitment to the franchise, its history and its fans. But they have made some sensible moves aimed at shoring up the bullpen (even though I wanted to scream to hear that Matt Capps had been snapped up by the bargain-basement NATIONALS), and now they’ve taken care of their biggest offensive shortcoming. Looking at the remainder of the puzzle, they still have options, and a reasonable basis for thinking that patience may improve those options.
Thing to Bring Up While Hitting on the Bored Waitress: On July 31, 2002, Steve Phillips stopped chasing something around a desk long enough to trade New York Met farmhand Jason Bay to the San Diego Padres for Jason Middlebrook and Steve Reed. While not chasing something around a desk he also threw in Jason Middlebrook and The Other Bobby Jones. We don’t like Steve Phillips, so ha ha that sure was stupid.
Thing to Remember Much Later, While Boozily Depressed to Think That the Waitress Wasn’t Bored Enough Even for the Likes of You: It’s often remembered that Jason Bay was a Met farmhand, but he wasn’t a Met draftee. Bay had only been Met property for about four months when Philanderin’ Phillips sent him to San Diego. He became a Met in late March 2002, arriving in the company of future Royals cup-of-coffee sipper Jimmy Serrano for the utterly forgettable Lou Collier, which means you could argue he was part of two fleecings in one year. In March, the Mets got him from his original organization, the Montreal Expos. So who was the first chump to trade away Jason Bay in 2002? It was Omar Minaya.
We’re stuck with Omar Minaya, so let’s go back to mocking Steve Phillips.
* Battered Met Fan Syndrome. Symptoms include an irrational fear of 162nd items in a sequence, distrust of doctors, an insistence that cream is not the same color as white, and savage reactions if told not being able to see something isn’t an obstructed view, not exactly. Cures for this affliction are thusfar hypothetical. If you find one, let us know.