Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Left Field at the Citi? We'll Call it BayRut

If Peter Gammons had any idea what he was talking about when he bellowed that Jason Bay would rather play in Beirut than in Queens, the scene that unfolded late this morning at Citi Field would have never taken place.

Those who believed Gammons were the same who had already given up on the Mets' offseason. The rest of us took it for what it was: A crock from a bitter Red Sox fan who resembles a turkey. Sorry Peter, I had to.

The Jason Bay who emerged from his seat and calmly and confidently fielded questions this morning, bore no resemblance to a man who didn't want to play in New York for the Mets. He stated repeatedly that the Mets were always on his list (of 3 to 4 teams). He mentioned that the deal had been struck right around Christmas, and that the supposed hold-up had nothing to do with a desire not to play for the Mets, and everything to do with the fact that the important parties were out of the Country until recently(Bay himself and Omar Minaya).

Bay looked comfortable, and it was easy to envision him sliding into the #4 or #5 slot in the order and starting to rake. All of the naysayers and downers who questioned the Mets' motives, Bay's desires and the state of the Mets need look no further than this quote from Bay: "Like I said, record-wise, I know what happened here on the surface, with guys getting hurt. I think that I offer a perspective where, if you look from a talent standpoint...the lineup, if you have everyone healthy you have an amazing lineup and arguably you have the best pitcher, fresh perspective, I don’t see how that can’t be good."

Could it be that Jason Bay sees a team that averaged 90 wins for 4 years in a row before being decimated by injuries? There's always a certain amount of BS that has to be cut through at press conferences, but the above quote from Bay seemed genuine and on the money. Like lots of fans had been repeating ad-nauesum, Jason Bay was able to see past what was a freakishly miserable 2009 and fix his eyes on the big picture.

And here is that big picture:

The offensive core of the 2010 Mets will consist of Jose Reyes (26), David Wright (27), Jason Bay (31) and Carlos Beltran (32). That's a damn good core. Bengie Molina will probably be signed as well (not a huge fan of that potential move, but if it's for 1 or 2 years it's not terrible). Then, the Mets will either find a platoon partner for Daniel Murphy or take a chance on Carlos Delgado on a low-base salary. Offense shouldn't be a problem for this team in 2010, and the bullpen shouldn't be a problem either.

The starting rotation...Johan and ????...An ace and 4 other guys...

The starting rotation is the last item on Omar Minaya's agenda as we sit here on January 5th (along with maybe, finally finding a deal that rids the Mets of Luis Castillo).

Johan Santana, Ace, will be in the rotation. Oliver Perez (who was injured and aloof all of last year and who is attempting to rehab his body and mind in Arizona) will be in there as well. Those seem to be the only two certainties. Jonathon Niese could turn out to be the #5 starter, but that remains to be seen. Mike Pelfrey and John Maine are being dangled as potential trade bait that could net the Mets Carlos Zambrano. The Mets could always sign Ben Sheets - a huge injury risk, but the most talented guy out there (via trade or free agency). I pray that they stay away from Joel Pineiro, and his price tag will hopefully help to answer that prayer.

In 44 days, Pitchers and Catchers will start reporting to Port St. Lucie for Spring Training. In addition to Johan, Ollie and the relievers, what other pitchers will be there? January, to me, is the last hurdle in the too long winter of baseball-less discontent. It's the last month until November 2010 where we won't see a picture or video of a Met in uniform on a field - with a glove, or a bat, or just standing there in the sun on the grass. If I was Marty McFly, I'd jump in the Delorean and head to mid-February. Unfortunately, that's not an option. Mets fans will again be forced to be patient, or cause riots, while we wait for our #2 starter to arrive. Who will it be?

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