Originally written March 05, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
Love ‘Em & Hate ‘Em Style After ten years of professional baseball, Jason Bay has returned to the state where he played his college ball. An illustrious career at Gonzaga landed him in the Padres organization, and in 2004, Bay won the NL rookie of the year with the Pittsburg Pirates. Prior to the 2010 season, Bay signed with the Mets. The deal will result in over $63 million in his bank account, $21 million of that being paid for him to not play in New York. So, what should we love and hate about this New York castoff? Let’s dive in shall we Seattle Mariners fans? Love ‘em 1. 45 HR’s in 200 games Those are good numbers by anyone’s standards, and yes those numbers were accumulated while playing home games at Fenway park, but those are Bay’s power numbers accumulated while playing in the AL. Many people do not credit RBI in the same manner, but Bay also recorded 156 RBI in as many games, so when given the opportunity, Bay has the ability to drive in the runs. 2. 1 year, $1 million This is Bay’s current contract with the Seattle Mariners. Put up or shut up has never been more demanding for a veteran looking for at-bats on a young team. There are no guarantees after this season, so Bay has every incentive to produce. 3. Health… so far This spring has been very kind to the Mariners, and it is silly to assume anything like what the M’s have been doing in Peoria will translate directly to the regular season. But, Bay is healthy, and has shown pop with 2 home runs in 8 games played and the ability to get on base (4 walks, 4 hits) with regularity when in the lineup. Put up or shut up has never been more demanding for a veteran looking for at-bats on a young team Hate ‘em 1. Taking away from the young I love the idea of Bay in the lineup, I love the idea of a veteran leading with his bat and work ethic, I love the idea that he can contribute when healthy, but I hate the idea of at bats being taken away from our up and coming players that will take the torch for years to come. The reality is that the more plate appearance Bay receives, the less Michael Saunders, Casper Wells, and Eric Thames will get. 2. Consistent decline Bay’s power is what the Mariners would love to capitalize on, but his ability to get on base consistently will make it difficult to play a slumping Bay during the season. His OBP has declined each of the last 3 seasons, and in only 70 games a year ago, his OBP was .126 points lower than his career average. If Bay cannot get on base and the power is inconsistent, that red flag may turn into walking papers. 3. Downside of his career Every M’s fan hopes that Seattle revitalize Bay’s career, but his power has dwindled to 26 HR’s in the last three years. Bay can blame injuries all he wants, but injuries come to older players that don’t take steroids, and injuries decrease the ability to hit a ball over the fences. I would like to see Bay on the 25-man roster, but he will need to have a good spring because there are 7 qualified OF’s ready to play at SafeCo this season. With the coming on of a surprising Carlos Peguero (.421 BA, 3 HR’s) and a healthy Franklin Gutierrez (so far) Bay will have to fight to make the team. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!

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