Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Can Bay Keep The Critics at Bay?

Well, Jeff Pearlman of does not like the Mets signing of Jason Bay.

Pearlman likens the signing of Bay to the Mets signing of Cincinnati Reds slugger George Foster prior to the 1982 season. The George Foster the Mets got was not the George Foster who hit 52 home runs and drove in 149 runs en route to the NL MVP in 1977.

Yet I don't think Pearlman is being fair to Bay. Although Foster did finish 3rd in the NL MVP balloting in 1981 his productivity had declined every year since his MVP season. If anything Bay hasn't yet reached his peak.

But Pearlman isn't optimistic. "If Bay has an absolutely outstanding 2010, he might hit 25 homers. He might," writes Pearlman. He bases this argument on the decline of David Wright's productivity in 2009. The Mets third baseman went from hitting 33 home runs and 124 RBI in 2008 to hitting only 10 home runs and 72 RBI in 2009. Pearlman attributes Wright's subpar '09 season to the dimensions of Citi Field.

While one can make a legitimate case that Citi Field is more pitcher friendly than Shea Stadium, Pearlman misses the obvious. As I pointed out yesterday, the presence of Bay and a healthy Carlos Beltran will enable Wright to see better pitches. With the absence of Beltran and Carlos Delgado for most of the '09 season pitchers in the NL pitched around Wright. As for Citi Field's dimensions what is preventing the Mets from moving in the fences?

I do agree with Pearlman that the Mets need more than Bay. Specfically, they need starting pitching. If the Mets were able to sign the likes of Joel Pineiro and Jarrod Washburn then 2010 could be a different story. A starting rotation of Johann Santana, Pineiro, Washburn, a healthy John Maine and a more consistent Mike Pelfrey could make the Mets a viable contender in the NL East.

But if the Mets don't add starting pitchers how is that Bay's fault? If Bay hits more than 25 home runs in 2010 it will be interesting to see what Pearlman will have to scribble.

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