Recent offensive woes highlight the need to upgrade from Jason Bay

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:

.192 – Andres Torres
.184 – Daniel Murphy
.115 – Ike Davis
.000 – Jason Bay (0-7 since returning from DL)

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.

7 comments for “Recent offensive woes highlight the need to upgrade from Jason Bay

  1. June 10, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I was listening to Sandy talk with Joe and Evan before Friday’s game, and he said that eventually results will outweigh everything else in terms of Davis. And when Beningo pressed the issue, he admitted Duda makes the most sense to play first.

  2. Bobby Townsend
    June 10, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Torres in the leadoff spot makes no sense. I am trying to go day-to-day here so I am not even thinking of the trading deadline with the hopes the Mets will still be contention by then. But for today only, put Hairston in the leadoff spot, give Rottino a start at first base, sit Ike Davis since they will already have too many lefties. Go Hairston, Nieuwenhuis and Duda left to right, DH Bay since he has had some success against Pettitte when he was with the Red Sox and use Nickeas behind the dish today to not only get another RH bat in there, but a catching change in a day game after a night game.
    I have been patient with Davis but thats wearing a little thin while he struggles to get his average over .170

    • June 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      I believe Rottino gets the start for Davis today versus Pettitte.

  3. Joe Gomes
    June 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    You cannot speak about Jason Bay sitting while Ike Davis plays. This team has a lot of dead weight and unfortunately they will wait until the bottom drops out before the Mets 3 GM’s do something.

    This team never wants to be respectable but rather mediocre without a sense of direction. They feel fine with being the joke of the NL. What other team puts out a 1B batting 160 in MLB?

    The Mets front office lack the gravitas necessary to do the right thing for the team. It is always one excuse after the other. How many blown lead and games before the got rid of Acosta? How many more futile at bats must Ike Davis have before he gets demoted?

    Baseball is a game of perfomance. You can have all the potential you want but if you don’t perform, you’re just another body.

    Tejada
    Capt. Kirk CF
    Wright
    Duda
    Hairston LF
    Baxter 1B (when healthy) use Turner until he comes back.
    Turner 2B
    Thole/Johnson send Nikrais down.

    • June 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      I’m not sure where you get the idea that I want Davis to play. In the article I said Davis needed a bus ticket to Buffalo, I compared Bay’s bad streaks as being Davis-esque, and said the Mets needed an OF, especially if Duda moves to 1B to take over for Davis.

  4. Metsense
    June 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    I would not DFA Bay just yet. I would want him in a platoon in LF but once again there is no one to platoon with! Torres has a .912 OPS as a RH batter and makes a nice platoon with Nieuwenhuis. Hairston starts in right against lefties and Duda plays first. Duda starts in right against righties and Davis gets to hang on by a thread. So we are back to Bay. Well I guess when they face a righthander you could could use the “pull a name out of a hat” and put Valdespin, Torres, Bay and Hairston in the hat. Going forward, if the players get healthy, Bay/Baxter LF, Torres/Nieuwenhuis CF, Hairston/Duda RF, and the Duda/Davis 1B platoons.(note that Duda will be playing everygame either in RF or at 1B).The offensive woes are a problem but the bullpen upgrade is needed the most.

  5. Chris F
    June 11, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I couldn’t agree more metsense. We can worry about position players and bats all we want, but the plain fact is, the mets would be in first place had we not blown so many games. The rotation seems to be enough (although the present shuffling post no-no is not good news IMO), but the performances in relief are unacceptable at the big league level. There is not a single arm I would keep. Byrdak prob the best, but this team, as has been mentioned here many times cannot carry a LOOGY given the overall state of affairs. Sandy was delusional with the Blue Jay pickups—I mean duh, they unloaded their set up man closer. Didn’t that tell him something, along with their records?

    It’s been a hard hard weekend for the blue and orange. And further given we should have won 2 from the Nats. And it’s not gonna get a lick easier the rest of this month where we play essentially first place or very highly competitive teams the whole ride.

    We need relief pitching in a major hurry, or this season is toast frm a contention perspective.

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