Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Mets Get Their Man

  • Mets agree to terms with Jason Bay:
It took awhile and it was a matter of circumstances (perhaps circumcision is a better term) to get it done, but the end result is all that matters and that end result is that Jason Bay has agreed to sign with the New York Mets for 4-years and $66 million pending a physical.

The ridicule has already changed course from the focus on the Mets sitting idly by while the Phillies made the much praised but tactically faulty decision to essentially trade Cliff Lee for Roy Halladay, to laughter at the "sinking ship" in which Bay has enlisted. And the word out of Boston is as it usually is when they lose out on a player: whining and alibis without merit or foundation.

As much as Mets GM Omar Minaya has been criticized for his mistakes, he's been smart and patient in his acquisition of most players. From the aggressive moves to sign Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez in 2005 and Billy Wagner in 2006, to Francisco Rodriguez in 2009, and the trades for Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana, Minaya's never panicked even as the world around him crumbled.

It would've been easy and understandable for him to say, "I've gotta do something" to get the press and fans off his back as the Phillies made their moves; the Yankees continued to dominate the city; and the Mets were under siege. But he waited and got the player he wanted all along at something close to their first offer at the winter meetings.

The laughter is all well and good coming from the Bronx and out of Boston, but in the end, who cares? Many times these marriages of convenience end up being the best thing that could've happened for both sides when examined in retrospect. The Mets needed a legitimate bat for left field; Bay wanted to get paid. Both sides win in that respect.

Did Bay really want to come to the Mets? I don't think anyone could argue that he did, but it probably had more to do with preferring to stay in Boston or go to a locale more palatable for his family like Seattle than any reticence about New York or the Mets. No one remembers that Carlos Beltran's first choice was to remain with the Astros after 2005; or that Scott Boras went to the Yankees and offered a cheaper deal for them to get the center fielder; he wound up with the Mets and in the end, everyone was happy.

Attractiveness of a team is based on the variable of their perception. After the year the Mets had in 2009, how could anyone look at their club and say that they wanted to be a part of the hell that they endured for the whole season? But objectively----barring a nuclear holocaust directed at Citi Field and nowhere else----could everything go as badly in 2010 as it did in 2009? With the roster they had in place before signing Bay, they'd be back around .500 if they stayed healthy. With Bay, they're right back into the middle-80s in wins and as they add a starting pitcher and another bat, they're a contender.

The worries about Bay when he was acquired to replace Manny Ramirez in the Red Sox lineup were almost identical to what they are now as he joins the Mets in a different context. Could he handle playing for a contender for the first time after years with the hapless Pirates? Would he respond to the pressure in Boston? Could he negotiate the Green Monster?

All questions were answered in the affirmative.

The Bay defensive liabilities are what they are, but with Beltran in center and Jeff Francoeur
in right, the Mets will cover for him well enough; and his issues in the field aren't for a lack of hustle. Bay was exemplary on and off the field for the Red Sox and will be the same for the Mets. His quiet influence will be another positive addition just as the Francoeur enthusiasm caught fire with the Mets and their fans.

With Bay, the Mets are getting a basher for the middle of their lineup who will be able to hit the ball out of Citi Field to add to the other hitters in their lineup that don't have a problem with the dimensions----Jeff Francoeur and Beltran. If David Wright's homer numbers end at 15-20 and he hits doubles and triples rather than homers with his shots to center and right, so what? A healthy Jose Reyes will set the table for the middle of that lineup.

The comedy routines worthy of Dane Cook, Billy Crystal and Adam Sandler (and yes, I picked the lamest comedians I can think of on purpose) are fine, but they're all too easy to cover up the truth under the surface. The Mets got their man; they're looking better to the rest of the free agent class and the skids are greased for some more improvements to a foundation that's much better than is implied.
  • The absurd reaction out of Boston:
You can mask the anger and panic with indignation and idiocy, but those that can peel back the layers will see the reality of what's going on with the Red Sox.

They're afraid.

So lacking in confidence in the current player moves that they choose to whine and react as a jilted lover by saying the insincere, "well, we can do better"; or "we didn't really want him back anyway"; or the ever popular "yeah, go to the sinking ship in Queens; who needs ya?!?" to mask their hurt and panic.

It was the same thing with the shocking Mark Teixeira decision to sign with the Yankees. The Yankees weren't even thought to be involved with Teixeira; the Angels had pulled out; there was nowhere else for him to go----until the Yankees struck and pulled the first baseman out from under the Red Sox collective noses. Instead of admitting they were outhustled, there was the indignation and acting out that has become as much a part of the Red Sox culture as it was seen to be with the Yankees and the "Evil Empire" during their years of dominance and Red Sox failure.

The Yankees outbid the Red Sox for a player? Owner John Henry calls for a salary cap.

The Yankees trade for veteran stars to fill their holes while the Red Sox sit by impotently? The Red Sox have to keep one eye on now and the future because of non-existent payroll constraints.

It's a familiar theme.

Now that Bay's gone, we see articles like this from a bitter and spoiled fool named Steve Buckley implying that Bay is heading toward "Siberia". I seem to recall a similar sentiment about the Red Sox as recently as 2002 and the Mets as recently as 2004. The Red Sox turned things around pretty quickly to become a paragon of success; and the Mets were a game away from the World Series by 2006.

Now there's a new tack of a whisper campaign coming from Boston via Jon Heyman on Twitter. It goes like this:

#redsox found some "physical issues'' with #bay. #mets are believed to be aware of this. med. exam could be a marathon

So, let me see if I understand this correctly. The Red Sox were concerned about his physical issues...but still offered him $60 million? How concerned could they have been about budget, health, defense and age if they were ready to pay him that amount of money? Are the Red Sox in the habit of doing favors for their fans to keep a popular player? To spend $60 million for a player with "physical issues"?

The Red Sox are in no position----moral or otherwise----to complain about this any more than they were in a position to complain about the Teixeira mistake. They walked away from Bay; not the other way around.

The simple fact is that the Red Sox fans and media are frightened about the state of their team in replacing Bay with Mike Cameron; petrified that they have to compete with the resurgent Yankees for the division and the Mariners/Angels/White Sox/Twins for a playoff spot with an aging and overpaid roster.

That roster as currently constructed is not making the playoffs in 2010 because they don't have enough firepower; their back end rotation is questionable; they're not as good nor are they as deep as the Yankees; and the competition is fierce. Unless they do something to fix their lineup hole, they're not a playoff team and the replacement of Bay with Cameron is another nail in the coffin.

The Red Sox are in trouble and they can't complain their way out of it no matter how hard they try. Trust me, they will try and all the caveats in the world aren't going to solve their problems unless they get a legitimate power bat. And Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro aren't it. But they knew that already. Or they should.

Actually, they'd better know that for their own good.

That's a more appropriate word for their mess that they've yet to adequately clean up.
  • Viewer Mail 12.30.2009:
Gabriel (Capo) writes RE Mark DeRosa:

I have always liked DeRosa. Good signing by the Giants. I think that division could be toughest in the National League, depending on what the Marlins and the Dodgers do.

The Giants are winning that division. Mark it down now.

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the stat zombies with a reprint of a quote and a retort:

"Billy Beane once said -- and honestly, I can't remember if he said this to Michael Lewis, or to me -- something like, "I might be a better general manager if I never watched a single game."

This statement is...full...of...shit.

And honestly, I can't remember if I said this to myself or if some higher power said this to me in a delusion-filled dream.

I didn't want to mention that dream bit in the linked blog from yesterday, but it was....weird.

Jane Heller at
Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Moneyball movie:

The Moneyball movie will get made, one way or the other. It has very little to do with Billy Beane and everything to do with Michael Lewis. Hollywood loves him, The Blind Side being a good reason why.

I hope you're right, Jane. As much as a I repeatedly say that there's no Moneyball movie to be made, I'd love to see that train wreck. Can you say Hudson Hawk? Ishtar? Gigli? It's a worthy successor. Beyond worthy----and an endless fountain of material for me. It'll be a fitting end to the firestorm that's coming.

I'm a man of my word......

Joe at Statistician Magician writes RE Dave Cameron:

Yes, even Dave Cameron makes mistakes, as do you, me and everyone that has ever cared about the game of baseball.

"Even Dave Cameron"?

What is he, the Dalai Lama?

There's a difference between making a mistake acknowledging it and clinging to a lie in desperate self-interest.

Unlike Cameron, I don't have an agenda aside from the truth, so I have no shame in admitting I'm wrong.

You never hear a word about his failed prediction regarding the Marlins; nor Jason Vargas; and I'm not even getting into their repeated defending of Paul DePodesta, it's so ludicrous.

"Ignore it and it'll go away" doesn't fly with me and until they start to loosen their tenuous grip on the out-of-context numbers, I'll continue to slam down the hammer and they won't even respond because they can't.


Joe said...

Ok, here is a huge disagreement, what is wrong with the Red Sox "back-end of their rotation?" Buchholz, Daisuke, and Wakefield trying to notch up the final two spots? Tazawa and Bowden for spot starts. Try to find a better "back end" than that.

Jeff said...

I could think of plenty 'back ends' better than that, but unfortunately, none of them have to do with baseball and everything to do with the club I was at last night.

I think this dissection of the Red Sox organization and fan base as being "whiny" is great. I've been saying that for a long time, but never in such a coherent manner. I love the bit about offering $60 million to a guy who has "medical issues". Hilarious retort.

As most Red Sox fans would say: "SUCK IT!"

She-Fan said...

I'm very grateful to the Mets for taking Bay out of the American League East. Many thanks!