At Bay

People keep equating the Mets’ seemingly amicable split with Jason Bay to a divorce. I’m trying to come up with a clever way to extend the metaphor, but I’m mostly at a loss. It was an ill-advised marriage from the start that saw very few happy moments. I suppose it’s like marrying someone purely for the person’s looks right before the person became indisputably unattractive. And even though the person was still very nice and trying hard to make it work, it became clear that without the surface beauty the relationship was doomed, and both parties ultimately realized the spark was gone forever and decided to cut their losses and move on. Something like that?

Either way, it doesn’t seem anyone harbors any ill-will toward Jason Bay. That’s good; he doesn’t deserve it. Bay didn’t sign himself to the huge contract with the vesting option, and given the circumstances there were probably a lot of ways he could have made the situation more difficult for the Mets. He gets the chance at a fresh start and rejuvenation, however unlikely, somewhere else. And the Mets can use whatever payroll they save in the short term — even if it’s as little as the Major League minimum — toward finding an outfielder that will outproduce Bay in 2013.

Given Bay’s performance in 2012, that shouldn’t seem a particularly difficult task, but it’s rendered tougher in the Mets’ case by their utter lack of right-handed hitting outfielders under contract in their system.

The closest they’ve got are a pair of 23-year-olds, Juan Lagares and Cory Vaughn, both of whom boast some promise but do not seem likely to contribute much at the Major League level by the start of 2013. Lagares’ 2012 line at Binghamton translates to a .557 big-league OPS, a mild uptick from Bay’s woeful year but not certainly not the type of number a club could abide from a corner outfielder. Vaughn has yet to play above A-ball, though his .243/.351/.463 line in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League appears to have been, by the ol’ equivalency calculator, the best overall performance by any right-handed hitting outfielder in the Mets’ system not named Scott Hairston in 2012.

As much as this will frighten my man Eric Simon, the alternatives in the system make the idea of working Justin Turner into a platoon role in the outfield appear a lot more palatable, though Turner’s reverse platoon splits do not help his case.

Presumably, though, the Mets will enter Spring Training with at least one Major League outfielder that can hit from the right side of the plate. That they split with Bay now, before that guy (or those guys) are on board, probably says a hell of a lot about their opinions on Bay’s prospects for a revival.

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