Tuesday, October 02, 2007

2007 Review: Jason Bay

2006: .286/.396/.532, 35 HR, 29 2B, 3 3B
2007 PECOTA: .283/.383/.544, 34 HR, 34 2B, 5 3B
2007 actual: .247/.327/.418, 21 HR, 25 2B, 2 3B

Jason Bay, Jason Bay... what do we make of this mess of a season? His numbers this year were terrible, and they're even worse if you consider that on June 1st he was hitting .314/.387/.536. So what happened? How does a guy go from a 30+ homer .900+ OPS stud to Jose Bautista at the prime age of 28? I suppose there are a couple of explanations.

Explanation #1- Jason Bay is toast
If you recall, there was a BP article that attempted to sell this point over the summer. The Reader's Digest version is that Bay had a spike in walks last year, which can often portend a slowing in bat speed (the theory is that he's taking more pitches he can't get to and thus walking a bit more), which bore itself out in his major power drain this year. It's not a bad argument, but I'm not sure I completely buy it. First off, he did hit in May. He tore the cover off the ball in May and wasn't so bad in April either. If his slump was a season-long thing, I might be more likely to buy the "he's done" thing, but the fact that he hit early in the year makes it just a little harder for me to buy. On top of that, he struck out 141 times this year, which is just about on par with his other years. If he really lost a ton of bat speed, I'd expect that number to go up a bit. I admit that that logic may be flawed (and if it is, tell me), but I'm really trying to say that I just don't buy a 28-year old forgetting how to hit in his prime.

Explanation #2- Jason Bay was hurt
We know that Bay had his knee scoped in the off-season. We know that he was late getting on the field in camp because of it. We know the same knee was really bugging him at the end of this year. Is it too much of a stretch to think a gimpy knee sapped his power all year? On one hand, Bay strikes me as the type of guy that would try to play through it until he absolutely couldn't. On the other hand, he's not having surgery again and he says it just needs rest. He didn't have major surgery on the knee last off-season, so maybe it is a stretch to think it bothered him all year.

This question is the type of thing that we can debate all winter if we like. It doesn't matter if we find the answer or not. It is, however, imperative for Neal Huntington to answer this question definitively. If Huntington is really trying to hit the reset button on this organization, Bay is one of the players he's got to think about trading. If Bay just had a gimpy knee, he's got Bay under contract through 2009 and there's no need to take the first trade that comes along. If he's got reason to think Bay's troubles run deeper than that, he's got to get him out of town quick, before everyone else realizes it. The easiest way to rebuild this team is going to be to take advantage of general managers that are just like the one we axed, guys that don't do their homework and react to reputation more than solid facts. Regardless of whether Bay was hurt in 2007 or just entering the decline of his career, there are teams that will pay a hefty price to get him in 2008. Accordingly, Huntington has to figure out what was wrong with Bay this year even if we can't, and he's got to act appropriately.