By Ernie Palladino
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As if anybody needed more proof that the Jason Bay signing was a humongous mistake, the Mets made it official yesterday.
They got rid of him.
Bought him out, proving once and for all that spending the better part of $66 million doesn’t necessarily purchase happiness for a team or a player.
Now, it’s up to Sandy Alderson to make sure the Wilpons’ floundering organization doesn’t blow another decision.
Bay, in the final year of the four-year deal he signed before the 2010 season, never produced like the player he was in Boston and Pittsburgh. Nice guy. Great guy, even. But in New York, he could neither hit nor stay healthy. And that’s a bad combination for a former star the Mets staked lots of money on to bring back some punch to the lineup.
Now that Bay is gone, the Mets will look directly to the future. And it’s a future that may be as shifty and slippery as the nor’easter that just blew threw this area.
They probably didn’t save a lot of dough with the Bay buyout — he left smiling, but was probably rewarded handsomely for his farewell — and there won’t be a lot of green coming in from ownership anytime soon. So Alderson will have to spend prudently, and perhaps even trade a veteran or two for prospects.
One player he should keep around — forever — is David Wright. The third baseman needs to be re-signed, long-term, for big bucks. Do it. He’s a stabilizing presence in a shaky lineup. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to have just one guy, one star, who spent his entire career with the Mets?
It helps that they committed $16 million to him when they picked up his option Oct. 30, the same time they locked down R.A. Dickey for 2013 with his option. The difference between the two is that Wright is worth having around. Not that Mets fans shouldn’t appreciate the storybook season Dickey put together, but he is 38. Knuckleballer or not, you sign an old pitcher for more than a year or two at a time, you’re asking for trouble.
So maybe the move here is to free up that $125 million over seven years the 29-year-old Wright is looking for and ship Dickey off now, following a Cy Young Award-caliber season, and get a younger arm or two who can bolster a potentially strong rotation. Throw the kid in with Johan Santana, Matt Harvey, perhaps Zack Wheeler, and see where he takes you.
Or package Jon Niese for somebody like Arizona outfielder Justin Upton.
Lucas Duda might have made an attractive worm to dangle on Alderson’s hook, but he broke his wrist. Hard to find someone interested in damaged goods.
Alderson is at the annual GM meeting in Indian Wells, Ca. right now, where trading is typically light. The real heavyweight stuff comes in the owners meetings later on. And, of course, he always has his office or a cell phone handy.
The key, though, is that Alderson can’t afford any swings and misses this time around, whether it’s a decision to find long-term money for Wright or make a trade. Bay, unfortunately, taught the Mets a hard lesson.
It’s fine to spend. It’s better to spend and get back a little production.
Hitting .165 in 2012, and .234 with 26 homers in his three seasons here just doesn’t add up to the contract.
It’s the kind of thing that gets GMs fired, and keeps teams out of pennant races.
It’s just what the Mets don’t need right now.
So look to the future. Sign, trade, do whatever Alderson thinks has to be done under the $100 million parameters of his budget.
Just don’t blow it.
Do you think extensions will get done for Dickey and Wright? Just one? Which one? Be heard in the comments below!