By Rich Coutinho
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Jason Bay came to New York as a high-priced free agent that would sit in the middle of the Met lineup as a bona-fide run producer and he has not delivered. I think everyone would agree that injuries played a role in that last year and everybody was willing to give him a pass — myself included — in the hopes that his sub-par performance was an aberration. But it is impossible to ignore that his lack of sizzle has become a debilitating force in the Met lineup.
Now, I want to be totally clear about this — it is not due to a lack of effort on his part because no one has worked harder than Bay on getting back on track — but things for him at the plate are as bad as they’ve ever been in his major league career. He did a lot of tinkering in spring training with his stance and approach and finally returned to his “old stance,” but something still seems to be missing. I am wondering if Bay is experiencing any lingering effects of his concussion issues of last year. My sense is it can not hurt to have his vision checked to see if that is the issue, because I am totally perplexed as to why he has been in the funk he is currently in for so long.
When he came here, people questioned whether the dimensions of CitiField would have an impact on his numbers. I thought it might affect him a bit, but my feeling was it would only affect the home run totals–not the RBI’s.
At the plate, his bat looks slow particularly on higher pitches. Hanging curveballs should be pitches that power hitters relish, but Bay is even missing those and that is what makes me think his vision could be an issue. Terry Collins has tried moving him around in the order to take pressure off him, but has not really tried the one thing that could work — bat him second behind the red-hot Jose Reyes. I say this because he will always have runners on base and with Reyes in the mix, it might force him to be more selective because taking pitches is part of the job description if you hit behind the effervescent Met shortstop. It would allow Collins to move Justin Turner into an RBI spot — at fifth or sixth in the order — which could play to his strength,s as he has been great driving in runners from scoring position with regularity.
In fact I might try to field a lineup like this:
This might take pressure off Bay and allow the Mets to go left-right-left against right-handed pitchers in the important 4-6 RBI positions in the order. When Wright and/or Davis return, you will need to make adjustments and possibly return Turner or Pagan to #2 position, but I think it is worth a try.
The Mets need Bay to perform and I do not think any idea to get him going should be dismissed. But I still think he should get his vision checked just so we know it is not a physical thing. Before you throw water on my theory, what exactly has been the Mets track record with diagnosing concussion issues?
What do you think Mets fans? Other options for Jason Bay?