Just in time for the holiday season, Mets 101's Seven in Seven series returns as our gift to you. Each week, the Mets 101 staff will begin a countdown of topics related to the New York Mets (i.e. best third baseman, worst defeat, etc.). We will begin our countdowns with the number seven and work all the way to number one. This week's Seven in Seven list follows last week's biggest blockbusters with the complete opposite: the biggest busts in Met history. Today we take a look at the third biggest bust in Met history, the signing of free agent outfielder Jason Bay.
4. Jason Bay
All-time Mets stats: 288 games, 1125 plate appearances, 231 hits, 128 runs, 41 doubles, 7 triples, 26 home runs, 124 RBI, 119 walks, 258 strikeouts, .234 batting average, .318 OBP, .369 slugging %
Analysis: When the Mets announced the signing of Jason Bay on December 29, 2009, they welcomed the second biggest name on the free agent outfielder market (second of course, to Matt Holliday, who signed with St. Louis) to Citi Field. Bay was coming off a season and a half with Boston in which he totaled 45 homers and 156 RBI in just 200 games for the Sox and was primed to take his place in the heart of the Met batting order. A one-time Met farmhand, Bay had been originally drafted by then Expos General Manager Omar Minaya in the 22nd round of the 2000 MLB amateur draft. Minaya sent Bay to New York in a deal for utility man Lou Collier, before Bay was dealt to San Diego two years later with Bobby M. Jones and a minor leaguer for a pair of relievers. The Met ties would continue as Bay was sent to Pittsburgh along with another future Met bust (#5 on our list) Oliver Perez, in a deal that saw the Friar's land Brian Giles. Bay would win the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year with the Buccos and went on to lead the hapless Pirates offense for the next three and a half seasons before being dealt to Boston.
So it only made sense that once he hit free agency, Bay would return to the team that gave up on the prospect for the likes of Jason Middlebrook and Steve Reed, but as it turned out, Minaya got it right the first time. Bay was awarded a massive four year, $66M contract from the Amazins and would be looked upon to help fill the shoes vacated by Carlos Delgado and the (at the time) injured Carlos Beltran. Bay would go on to bat just .259, with a meager six homers and 47 RBI in 95 games, spending his share of time on the DL as well.
Things didn't get better from there for Bay, as he followed up that lackluster campaign with 123 games in 2011, putting up a .245 average with 12 homers and 57 RBI. In 2012, Bay never got going, playing just 70 games and making it to the plate 215 times, only to hit a paltry .165 with 8 homers and 20 RBI, spending most of the season on the DL (ribs, concussion), or in the bottom of the Met order. To put it in perspective, Bay hit as many doubles and 19 more homers in his season and a half in Boston, than he did in three full seasons in NY. The fans were unforgiving and despite Bay's tireless hustle, he just could not catch a break and emerge from the three-year slump he was mired in. With the huge contract anchoring him in NY, Bay escaped what should have been a no-brainer demotion to AAA, aside from a short rehab stint. In the winter of 2012, the Mets and Bay agreed to sever ties and his "hometown" Seattle Mariners (Bay hails from British Columbia, CAN) signed the 34 year old to a one-year, $1M contract, hoping he can be something of a reclamation project.
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