Mets Hope Jason Bay's Third Time Around is the Charm

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 31: Jason Bay #44 of the New York Mets connects on a sixth inning RBI single against the Florida Marlins at Citi Field on August 31, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

I was thinking about something Jason Bay uttered to us bloggers at the Mets Holiday Party in 2010 as I read the flurry of Jason Bay comeback stories filed by the beat writers for today's consumption.

Bay responded to a question about what he was doing in the offseason to make amends for his less-than-stellar 2010 season. Or, namely, wasn't doing:

"I haven't made any adjustments," Bay offered about his approach to dealing with his lack of patience at the plate in 2010. "It's one of those chicken and the egg things. When you're going well and you're doing well, you're more apt to be patient. But when you're struggling a little bit, you're trying to find certain things. It's very hard to sit back and wait. You're trying to make things happen.

"...I'd rather do the things that you've always done, but just do them better."

It sounds like the right thing to say, except that we later learned Bay was actually monkeying with his swing at his former hitting coach from Pittsburgh's suggestion at pretty much the same time as he told us about the lack of adjustments. So I read about Bay's most recent offseason regimen as recounted by The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough...

"I guess it was less formal," Bay said Thursday after arriving at the team's complex. "It wasn't really showing up and working with somebody. It was just me and the tee."

...and thought, "Why should we believe in this guy again?"

The thing that concerns me about our Canuck conundrum revolves around this season being Bay's third in Flushing. For the last two years, a concussion and a reversion to mediocrity sapped whatever power was expected of the Mets' left fielder. You want to point your finger at the extreme pitcher's park, but he actually hit for more power at home (.155 ISO) then on the road (.105) last season. He swung at fewer strikes in 2011 (9.5% SwStr, as compared to a career average of 10.7%), but swung more often at pitches out of the zone (27.7% O-Swing, compared to career 21%).

He's just not hitting with power like he used to anymore. A few more balls may reach the stands at Citi Field with the walls being brought in a bit for the 2012 season and should hopefully give him a bump in the HR/FB department, but is Bay's ailment as much a crisis of confidence as it is as confluence of injuries and diminished baseball ability?

To Bay's credit, he tore the cover off the ball last September to the tune of .313/.392/.563. He also bared a reputation as a streaky hitter for the Red Sox, which included a two-month summer stretch in 2009 when Bay couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. He knows big city pressure, and he has proven his capacity to come back under the bright lights, too.

Bay himself admitted to feeling like his old self at the end of 2011 according to McCullough:

"I got away from that for so long that I didn't know who I was there for a bit," he said. "We tried to get back to that. I felt like I could build a platform last year for doing that."

He's talking the talk, and, at 33 years old, he should still be able to walk the walk in some capacity.

But this is year three. And if he can't hit, I can't imagine there'll be a year four even with the Mets in rebuilding/financial hell mode.

Still, I'm hopeful as long as Bay can muster up more than two extra base hits he mustered up last spring.

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