Back in the winter of 2004, Carlos Beltran signed a lucrative seven-year $119 million deal with the New York Mets. Beltran was immediately expected to lead the Mets to great heights and live up to his lofty contract.
Beltran was coming off a marvelous 2004 post-season run with the Houston Astros in which he hit a record eight home runs to propel his team to the National League Championship.
For the most part Beltran has had a good run with the Mets. But sometimes the best laid plans often go awry, and Beltran struggled in his first season in Flushing. In 2005, (his first with the Mets) Beltran posted modest numbers with a .266 avg., 16 HR’s and 78 RBI’s and the Mets struggled to stay above .500. The Mets finished 83-79 that year and ended up tied for third in the N.L. East, 7.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves.
Beltran eventually would recapture his stroke and put up a MVP-type season in 2006. Beltran led the Mets to the N.L. East Championship after producing a .274 avg./41-HR/116 RBI stat line.
Now fast forward to the winter of 2009.
After the Mets finished a dreadful 2009 season 22.5 games back of the Philadelphia Phillies in an injury-ravaged year, the team needed to sign a big power bat to compete in the N. L. East. The team looked to Jason Bay for his great pull-hitting capabilities (even bypassing on Matt Holliday) and signed him to a four-year $66 million contract. After all, Bay was coming off a fantastic season with the Boston Red Sox in which he hit .267, but more importantly slugged 36 HR’s and drove in an impressive 119 RBI’s.
But much like Beltran, Bay struggled mightily in his first season with the Mets. Bay’s season was defined, and cut short, by a nasty concussion and he would wind up only hitting six home runs and driving in a measly 47 RBI’s in 348 AB’s. As such, the Mets continued to struggle and finished 79-83 and 12 games back of the Phillies.
Optimistic Mets faithful hope Bay can have a similar-type rebound season Beltran had in 2006. I realize this isn’t an apples to apples comparison, but Bay’s pedigree and history suggest he can’t be this bad. At age 32, it’s not like Bay is over the hill.
In his three previous years with the Red Sox and Pirates, Bay averaged 30 HR’s and 101 RBI’s. What gives? I know Citi Field is no haven for power hitters, but eventually Bay will and should get used to it.
Another hopeful comparison to look at is David Wright’s first season at Citi Field.
Wright’s 2009 (first season at Citi Field) power slump has been well documented. Wright, who also averaged nearly 30 HR’s prior to begin playing at Citi Field, hit 10 HR’s (five at home) to go with 72 RBI’s in 2009. But in 2010, Wright got used to his surroundings and rebounded with a solid 29 HR’s (12 at home) and 110 RBI’s. If Bay can come close to those numbers, than his 2010 season can be forgiven.
So, the bottom line thinking is with his first year out of the way, and with him returning to full health, Bay will feel relaxed and get back to what he does doing best: hitting hit home runs and driving in runs.
Bay has said he does not suffer any more headaches and is looking to put the past behind him. In fact, Bay is considering attending mini-camp in January to get a jump on things.
If Bay is healthy, and by all accounts it looks like he is, he should be in for a course correction. If Bay in fact does get back to his 30 HR, 100+ RBI ways, the Mets could possibly make a playoff push.
A lot has to go right for the Mets to make the playoffs, but at the top of that list is the return to prominence by Bay.