Since moving into a tie for first place on June 3rd, the Mets have dropped five of their last six games. Before you start thinking it is a “June Swoon” recall that they have played the Cardinals, Nationals and Yankees in this stretch, three teams with a combined 98-77 (.560) record. It is disappointing, but not overly surprising, that the Mets have struggled during this stretch.
While recognizing the quality of their opponents, one thing that’s hard to ignore is the team’s .224 AVG so far in the month of June. Here are some of the lowlights:
At least three of Torres’ five hits have gone for extra bases, so he has not been a complete zero out there. Murphy really needs a day off, Davis needs a bus ticket to Buffalo and Bay needs to be DFAd. In boxing they call it the Great White Hope – the idea that there will be a white heavyweight champion again. In Queens we have the Great Bay Hope – the irrational belief the last two-plus years are meaningless and that Bay will again hit like he did in 2009.
Yes, he goes through two-week stretches where he hits very well. But he follows those up with even longer stints where he’s Davis-esque at the plate. The sad truth is that Scott Hairston gives the Mets a better chance to win and he should be playing over Bay. Some might call for a Torres-Bay platoon but that can’t work in the traditional way, as Torres is even worse against RHP than Bay is.
But if Terry Collins wants to try something unconventional, he could go for a home/road, Torres/Bay platoon. Torres has an OPS 143 points higher at home while Bay’s road mark checks in 52 points higher. And Bay’s road mark comes along with a .167 BABIP, so there’s certainly reason to expect some improvement there.
It’s grasping at straws, and not very likely to work in the long-term. But who among you *really* believes that either Bay or Torres will hit in the long-term? The easiest thing to do is to continue to write Bay’s name in the lineup night after night, hoping some crazy combination of luck, Citi Field’s new dimensions and a return to 2009 form will happen. It wouldn’t be the strangest thing ever to occur but, let’s be honest, odds are against it.
Before the season started, ZiPS saw something of a bounce-back year for Bay, as it projected him to post a .763 OPS, 60 points higher than his mark in 2011. Bay currently sits with a .685 OPS (88 OPS+) and it should now essentially be counted as a win if he rebounds to match last year’s .703 OPS.
Recently, Sandy Alderson has indicated that if the Mets are in contention at the deadline, he expects the club to be able to add salary. Most of the speculation has been on relief pitching but the Mets may get the biggest bang for the buck by adding an outfielder, especially if Lucas Duda moves to first base to take over for Davis.
One potential target might be Torii Hunter from the Angels. A 36 year old in the last year of his contract, Hunter recently returned from the bereavement list and has been swinging a hot bat, with 3 HR in his last nine games. He would be a very pricey acquisition, as the Mets would be on the hook for the remainder of his $18 million deal. But he is also an extremely consistent hitter, with OPS+ scores ranging from 105-128 the last nine years, including a 122 mark in 2012.
A former center fielder, Hunter would upgrade the team defensively, too. Currently he sites with a +3 DRS and a +5.3 UZR. Duda has a (-8) DRS and a (-10.6) UZR in right field for the Mets.
A recent surge has the Angels just three games back in the AL West and it is by no means a given that they would look to move Hunter. But the exact player is less important than the idea that a sound way for the Mets to improve going forward is to add an OF to replace Bay. Perhaps instead of Hunter it’s Jason Kubel or Seth Smith or Josh Willingham.
Regardless of the ultimate solution, let’s hope that Collins doesn’t waste too many ABs looking to catch lightning in a bottle from Bay. And let’s also hope that management not only doesn’t stand in Collins’ way in replacing Bay in the lineup but they actually provide him with an upgrade to use, instead.