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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Now We Can Call It Bayrut

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.

19 comments to Now We Can Call It Bayrut

  • You forgot about “PTMD” – Post-traumatic Mets Disorder.

    We’re starting a community in Section 138 next year…Jason’s Bay-Watch. You like?

  • Jase – sure, remind me again why Omar is a tool – LOL

    As a sufferer of BMFS, I heartily submit that this supposed leak comes two days before the deadline to reup on season tickets… just saying…

  • Yeah, I’d like to hear how Francesa got that one. Suspicious.

    OTOH, Coop, I love the section name!

    • Mariner Moose

      The funny thing is that the NYT/AP story that ran in the Seattle paper this morning basically stated that the information was leaked to help close the deal on renewing season ticket holders.

      “News of the deal broke on WFAN, the radio station that broadcasts Mets games. The Mets might have wanted word to get out before a thursday deadline for fans to renew season tickets for 2010.”

      Anything is better than Francoeur, though.

  • Matt

    The Mets infield isn’t that bad. Was it bad last year, sure. You lost a gold glove SS. Wright had an off year. Murphy was learning the position. Castillo’s range went has decreased, but despite his Bronx blopper, he has a good glove. (That is was made the pop-up drop so unbelievable b/c Luis normally is sure-handed 2B).

    You are upset the Mets didn’t get Capps? The Capps obviously wanted to have a shot to remain a closer.

    I think $16.5 million for 4 years is better than Holliday for 18+ for 7 years. Holliday is not clearly the clean up hitter Bay is. Holliday has had seasons where he seemed more of a #3 or #5 hitter, which arguably the Mets already have two of in beltran and wright.

    With Bay, the Mets have one of the top 3 1-5’s in the NL (barring they all hit for their career averages).

    You right that they need pitching. That being said, they are not horrible either. Maine, Pelfrey, Perez all have #2 starter stuff, it just matter of gettin them phsyically and mentally ready for the season.

    The Met have folded under the pressure of being a contender the past three seasons. This year no one expects anyhting out of them, it will be interesting to see how they play having nothing to lose.

    Where is the Met fan optimism? You gotta’ believe!

  • Stu Cohn

    The negativity is really getting to me. How is this a bad deal? Jason Bay isn’t even the Main Man in the Mets’ lineup. David Wright is, or maybe Carlos Beltran, or maybe Jose Reyes. He a fourth option, and if the other three guys are back on the beam, he’s going to be a major addition. We’ll worry about how he ages when the time comes.

  • Inside Pitcher

    Bayrut – ROFL

  • Random Fan

    What the team needed was a speedy, defensively solid left fielder who could hit .300, poke a lot of doubles and triples and not strike out or GIDP much.

    What they got was an iffy-range, iffy-glove .270 hitter whose main weapon is the long ball and thus whose numbers will wither on the vast steppes of Citifield.

    Statistically, you know what you get if you take Jason Bay and cut the homers from the 30’s to the teens? You get Daniel Murphy.

    And by the way, Bay’s a whole lot better (40 points) against lefties than righties — like Wright and Francoeur and Reyes and even Bengie Molina. Think this lineup will see many lefty starters?

    The good news: Bay hit .533 this year (8 for 15) with the bases loaded, and .429 (6 for 14 with no LITP) against Phillies pitching. Both averages would have led the Mets starting eight if he had been on the team in 2009.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    I will admit my distaste for Citifield affects my judgement but I honestly can’t get too excited about the signing of Jason Bay. Bay will fall from 36 homers to about 15 but it won’t be his fault – it’s will be that of the Wilpons. Just like it did to David Wright and Carlos Beltran, Citifield’s airport-type dimensions will take the power right out of Bay’s hands.

    You were correct assessing that the Mets still have thin starting pitching and bad infield defense. I’ll add their bullpen isn’t as deep as it was going into last season as well. But wasn’t a team built around strong pitching and defense the type of team that the Wilpons envisioned for Citifield? Well, they gave us the park but they certainly did not give us that type of team. Give us back the team we had, the one many called similar to an American League lineup. Bring in those fences, lower the walls and stop taking the power away from Wright, Beltran, Franceaur and now Bay.

  • Made in the Sheade

    Funny piece, Jason.

    This may just be a reaction to the last two comments here, but I can’t believe how cool the reaction has been to this deal. This move obviously does not transform them into the “team to beat” (and we should all be thankful for that, frankly), but at the number of dollars and years, this was simply the right move. They got what they needed in Bay – a leftfielder with pull power. Those who say his homeruns will drop to the teens (15?!) are really being dramatic. He hit over 30 HR twice at PNC Park – which, by the way, had nearly an identical HR “park factor” to Citi Field in 2009. (Actually, PNC’s park factor was slightly _less_ favorable to hitters in 2009.) I think we can expect him to lose a few HR, but let’s all remember that the Mets play 81 games elsewhere.

    The Mets need to keep working if they want to compete this season, but this was a good move. It makes their lineup better in 2010, and it doesn’t hamstring them from making more upgrades next offseason, when the free agent crop will be richer. If they can find a way to add a starting pitcher and perhaps make a sensible upgrade at 2B — and if they do a better job of staying healthy — there is no reason to think they won’t be in the hunt this season. Right now the only team that really just outclasses them is (try not to puke) Philthy.

    • Joe D.

      So you think David Wright just had an off-year, power wise? And before he was injured, it was just a fluke that Beltran wasn’t hitting them out either? Or that Francoeur never said the players wish the fences were closer?

      Granted, Citifield was designed in part after PNC, with PNC’s left field being like our right, however, Bay only had to contend with a left field fence that was six feet high with the fence in center being only ten feet and 21 feet in right but with much shorter distances.
      Those high fences and extra high walls sprinkled throughout Citifield mean balls have to also be hit even further to get the required projectory necessary to make it to the seats.

      Also, the Pirates were a bad team before moving from 3 Rivers Stadium so it didn’t matter what the team makeup was like – the Mets were a team with power now playing in a park tailored toward pitching and defense.

      • I think a couple of things happened to Wright. I think having no protection caused him to try and do too much, magnifying some holes in his approach to at-bats and getting him into bad habits — he didn’t hit home runs on the road either.

        And I think the park messed with his head a bit — along with his teammates and, frankly, us. Citi played big in the early part of the season when it was cold, and smaller when it was hot — except by the time it got hot most of the varsity was hurt, so there were few home runs, AND we’d read a lot of stories comparing Citi with the early-season jetstream sending balls out of Yankee Stadium.

        Put all these things together and Citi has a reputation for being unfriendly to home-run hitters that I’m not sure it deserves. Hopefully in 2010 we get a warmer spring, better Mets hitters and a better reading on how the park really plays, which will let the team decide what, if anything, ought to be done.

        This should probably be a blog post. Hmm. Good idea.

        • Even taking the tack (as I did in the pro-Bay post) that we need more evidence to determine what Citi Field really is, I still think it was designed too cute for its own good, as if Mets fans were screaming for more triples. But perhaps it will eventually work in our favor…and not spook the new leftfielder in the process.

        • Joe D.

          Hi Jason,

          We often saw Wright exhibit the power he had in previous seasons – he hit many long blasts at Citifield but instead of going over the fence they were mostly caught by the wall.

          Same with Beltran when healthy – I still can’t forget his first game back when his 410 foot fly to right resulted in the third out rather than a game winning grand slam.

          So it wasn’t a matter of not hitting the ball deep more than it was not being able to hit it deeper than previous seasons. And Greg is correct to remind us that the Wilpons designed the park “too cute”. By emphasizing how vast spaces would create more “excitement” with balls in play they were more interested in gimmicks and forgot to create a ballpark that fit the team.

  • SJGMoney

    Those that think Matt Holiday is a superior defensive outfielder to Jason Bay have obviously never seen them play. Holiday is an absolute butcher out there, his playoff game losing blunder not an aberration at all. Jason Bay is a “professional” player in every sense of the word and will make us better. That is the point, right?

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    Wright explained what happened on the road quite explicitly. He said adjusting his swing to better suit Citifield affected him on the road as well because one cannot change his approach at the plate when away – it has to remain consistant. Hence, swinging less for the fences at Citifield meant doing the same on the road.

  • […] so it goes. Omar’s still here. Fernando Tatis is still here. Jason Bay, whom Expo Omar traded to the Mets before Moron Steve traded him to San Diego, has just arrived. So has 2002 Expo first-round draft choice Clint Everts. The Met-Expo link […]