There is a rumor that if you look up the phrase “sunk cost” in the dictionary, that there is a picture of Jason Bay next to the entry. That rumor may or may not be true but the sad reality is that Bay is that very thing and his continued presence on the roster is a hindrance to the Mets’ efforts to win games.

For those not familiar with the concept, a sunk cost is one that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. Furthermore a sunk cost should play no role in future decisions if you are looking to make the best possible choices.

Let’s say you hate the opera. Your wife makes you buy two tickets because *she* likes to go. But on the night of the show, she gets called out of town on business. Now, you could go because you’ve already spent money on the tickets. Or you could go do something that you’d rather do, like go bowling or take a nap. It’s bad enough that you spent the money on the opera tickets. There’s no reason to compound the misery by actually going when there are other options that would make you much happier.

Jason Bay is the opera tickets, while going to see the show is continuing to give him at-bats. While it may seem like going to the show means that the money won’t have been spent in vain, all you are really doing is making a bad situation worse. The odds that this opera is the one that’s going to turn you into a fan are virtually non-existent. The odds that this is the time Bay will be productive might even be worse.

Mike Puma of the New York Post had this quote from Collins on Bay:

“If you sit [Bay] down, it’s the same thing we talked about with not playing Ike Davis [when he was slumping],” Collins said after the game. “He’s just not going to get better [sitting on the bench]. It’s hard to do. He has not been able to get started because of the injuries, so we’ve got to get him started.”

Davis is in his mid-20s and last year put up a .925 OPS. Bay is 33 and has put up the following OPS marks, starting in 2009: .921, .749, .703 and .556 this year. If you get lucky, he might rebound to last year’s mark. But the history books are just not filled with guys in their 30s who have stunk for three years straight magically regaining their past glory.

The Mets had the option of sending Davis to Buffalo to work out his problems and chose not to do it. Chances are they do not have that same option with Bay. The Mets paid a heavy price by playing Davis every day for three months when he was sub-replacement level. They survived because their pitching was outstanding. No one is calling the hurlers that now. Playing the 2012 version of Bay – his .164 AVG and 28.7 K% – when the Mets are struggling this bad is, in a word, insane.

If the Mets want to play a low-average, high-strikeout guy, they should just play Kirk Nieuwenhuis. At least he has a chance to get better. It would be wonderful if Bay could be a .900 OPS+ guy who balanced the lineup with his righty power. But that version of Bay isn’t walking through the door or into the batter’s box.

The latest scuttlebutt is that Bay has one more week to start producing or else he will be replaced by Mike Baxter in the starting lineup. Well, that’s something, I guess.

In the offseason following 2009, the Mets preferred Bay over Matt Holliday because Bay was a pull-hitter that they believed would not be spooked by the outfield dimensions at Citi Field and who would hit home runs. In the nearly three years since, Holliday has 68 HR to 23 for Bay. That’s not really fair to Bay, who has suffered from injuries in the interim. But Holliday has a .925 OPS since 2010, compared to a .703 mark for Bay.

But we cannot go back to December, 2009 and pursue Holliday instead of Bay. What the Mets can do is recognize he’s a sunk cost and stop putting Bay in the lineup to make outs. That was true at least since the middle of last year and it’s true today. Only now it finally seems about to happen. The guy who arrived with such fanfare with an eight-digit contract, is on the verge of being replaced by a guy making minimum wage.

And it’s the right decision.

15 comments on “Forget milk cartons, look for Jason Bay in the dictionary

  • Charlie Hangley

    I thought he’d be between “syphillis” and “sh**.” Cut the man, pronto.

  • jerseymet

    That knee could be worth a DL trip until the Roster expands to 40 men in September. Surely some team has 25 million worth of bad contracts they would like to swap.

  • AJ

    The Jason Bay situation is horrible, for everybody, from every angle. If he was an arrogant, bad attitude player, you might at least have the satisfaction of watching him suffer. But by all accounts he’s a good guy and you see him out there busting it every game he plays, and it’s just miserable to witness how completely useless he is at the plate right now. And you’re right; it’s hurting the team.

    Bay is the last vestige of the Mets’ disasterous efforts at Yankee Ball, when management believed a good team could be made by spending extravagant sums of money on biggest name free agents available, or trading multiple prospects for players who’s best seasons were behind them. The team is supposedly on a new page now, developing young talent and building from within. Yet there is Jason Bay, a sickening reminder, like a lingering intestinal disorder after a really bad meal. You know something ugly has to happen before things will improve.

    • Mike Koehler

      I agree with most of what you wrote, but not about the Yankee Ball bit. Sure, they bought more free agents in a short period of time than they should have, but at some point you have to hit the market for big names to compliment your homegrown core. Back in the mid-,late-2000s, everyone thought this team was on the verge of, or at least had the potential to be something, special. They signed Bay to hit home runs, play good defense and be a veteran presence. In theory, that made sense. Too bad it didn’t happen in reality.

      • 7train

        The Yankees went through a 10 year period of buying whoever was available and trading away prospects while not going to the post season at all. It wasn’t until Gene Michael took over and Steinbrenner got suspended that the the Yankees got their house in order. Started developing their own players to keep (Jeter, Mariano, Bernie, Posada, Petite, Gardner, Robertson, Hughes, Joba, Cano, Nova) or trade for YOUNGER veterans with time to be more than 1-2 year bit players. (O’Neil, Tino, Knoblauch, A-Rod, Granderson, Swisher, Pineda)

        They know that inorder to make trades they need to have something to offer and consequently are not just restricted to whoever happens to be a free agent every year. They can talk to any team about any player because they have enough for themselves and extra to fill in where they didn’t hit. Now they’ve evolved into getting a few older, but super highly talented bookmark/bench/backup/depth/platoon types like Chavez, Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Kuroda, Colon, Garcia and Martin on cheap one year deals.

        Sure they’ll pick up the perfect fit FA when the right guy for the longterm appears. CC, Tex, or shorter term deals for Soriano and Burnett but they’re not restricted to improving the team by that method and they’ve had as many busts as hits that way as well with Pavano, Wright and others. They do find a way to cut bait though rather than keep running an under performing guy out there night after night.

        Of course they don’t have one or two of them to get rid of every year because their farm has reduced the need for so many volatile long term expensive free agents.

        • AJ

          Point well made, 7train. The Yankees did become more nuanced in the way they spent the big bucks, and they obviously built an organization that has produced perennially winning teams. The Mets never got to that point. Acquiring Bay was never going to make enough of a difference in 2010, even if he had performed up to expectations. The ship was already sinking. I don’t know that it would have made much difference if they had been able to get Holliday instead of Bay.

          Anyway, I feel sorry for Jason Bay. I bet he would give back half the money if he could just hit like he used to. Doesn’t matter – he’s a dead weight now, and a reminder of a failed institutional culture. The Mets need to stay focused on the future and Bay isn’t part of it.

      • 7train

        The team that was built had a very short shelf life and a very shaky foundation. It was really more like a house of cards and was partly an illusion due to a very weak NL East in 2006. (Phillies didn’t get over .500 till mid August, Braves dipped blow .500 in early June and never got back above, Washington was terrible and Florida very mediocre) and these teams comprised almost half our schedule. The whole NL in general was weak that year, normally you have 3 or 4 teams with 90+ wins in the NL every year. 2006 there was one, us.

        Johan, Pelfrey, Maine, Perez, Livan, Nieve and Redding (Figgy and Misch AAA depth) is not a credible rotation. Not that it couldn’t have worked, just that it would put the burden on the offense to carry the team and if any injuries occurred there was no depth.

        You wouldn’t have thought Beltran and Reyes would be out but Delgado and Castillo couldn’t have been considered unlikely to go down. Murphy not a lock to make it in LF, Church and Schneider to hit enough, Putz to be able to make it through the season, Cora and Reed to step up if needed.

        The 2009 Mets looked really good on the surface but when you looked below you could see numerous ways they could be derailed and while you wouldn’t have thought almost all of them would occur, plus others, you couldn’t have thought none of them would and just one or two were that was needed.

  • Metsense

    They should cut Bay. He should not be getting playing time over Hairston. If the Mets are planning to continue playing Bay over Hairston, then they should trade Hairston. If Bay stays on the roster then his time should be limited to platoon only or less. His playing time should not impede the playing time of the young players that need to be evaluated for 2013.If they don’t cut him then he will be taking up a roster position going into the Rule 5 draft this year. This will only increase the loss on the sunk cost if they lose a player. It has made no sense in the way Bay has been handled. They had a golden opportunity to play him in rehab at AAA in the hope of him finding his stroke. If he didn’t hit at AAA they could have justifiably cut him. The Jason Bay playing time has been handled by the front office poorly.

    • Brian Joura

      Bay hit .300 with a .500 OBP in his Triple-A rehab — what more could they have wanted to see? Sssh, don’t mention it was 3 games…

    • 7train

      Very good points Metsense. We get that a masher against LHP would be the single biggest way to improve this teams chances but bringing Bay up and just hoping he could revert back to form at least against them was really a reach and the 20 days in rehab would have told you almost as much as him playing in the Majors without contributing to lost games. Golden opportunity that was whiffed on miserably, no other way to put it. Combining that with losing a bullpen arm, AA catcher, high risk/high reward bubble prospect or even a useful AAA depth guy would move the needle from really poor to potentially franchise crippling.

      Time to go.

  • Mike Koehler

    Suddenly my article about trading Bay makes me look delusional 😛
    I still think he could be moved, but it would require eating nearly all of his salary going forward, finding the perfect destination and maybe tossing in another prospect/player. I wouldn’t expect much either, although maybe you’ll get a single-A OF or RP with some potential.

  • steevy

    Trotting Bay out there night after night is just torture.Sorry Terry,he ain’t getting better.He’s missed 174 games in his three years and even when he was healthy he didn’t produce anywhere near expectations.He’s a bust,it happens.

  • Chris F

    I agree pretty much with everything said. He’s a complete bust. Props for being a team guy and plying hard full time. But, at this level, you dont get a gold medal for just playing hard.

  • Charlie Hangley

    Bay & Torres hitting back-to-back is a pretty strong vortex of suck.

  • NormE

    “vortex of suck”
    I do love your phraseology, Charlie.

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