The Mets have two geographical rivals: One is in their city, one is in their division, and both were in the 2009 World Series. For all the challenging seasons the Mets have endured through their history -- 120 losses in 1962, worst team money could buy in '93, September swoons in '07 and '08 -- there was something unique about the agony they experienced in '09.
After dropping 93 games, they had to watch the hated Phillies repeat as National League champions and then the more-hated Yankees take the World Series. Mets' principal owner
By reportedly agreeing to a contract with left fielder
The Mets will be second-guessed for giving a four-year, $66 million contract to a left fielder with bad knees and a questionable throwing arm, but keep in mind that the value-conscious Red Sox reportedly offered Bay four years and $60 million when free agency opened. He turned them down, believing other teams would step forward, but only one did. Bay let the Mets squirm for weeks, presumably aware of their history, hoping they would get anxious and bid against themselves. But the Mets remained patient and Bay eventually realized that he should sign with the only team that really seemed to want him.
Bay is an awkward match for Citi Field, given the ballplayer's skill set and the ballpark's expansive dimensions. He is a power hitter going to a stadium that does not yield home runs, a mediocre defender going to an outfield with gaping alleys. But the Mets hit a major-league low 95 home runs last season, compared to 244 by the Yankees, and they absolutely had to come away from this winter with a legitimate slugger. Only two were on the market -- Bay and
Holliday made his reputation in the high altitude at Coors Field, and when he was traded to Oakland last season and forced to play in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, his power numbers came crashing down to sea level. He thrived at the end of the year in St. Louis, where fragile players are protected by a relentlessly supportive fan base, but he has never been exposed to the kind of scrutiny common in New York. Bay, on the other hand, showed in the past two years that he could make Boston forget
Oddly enough, Bay has already played for the Mets and their general manager,
How many of those fastballs he yanks over the left-field fence at Citi Field will determine whether his signing is a success. No one expects him to hit 36 home runs, as he did last season with the aid of the Green Monster, but the Mets have to wonder just how far he will fall. If the stadium takes the same toll on him that it did on third baseman
But if Bay can hit even 25 home runs, and bolster a lineup that includes