- Last Updated: 5:30 PM, August 8, 2012
- Posted: 2:26 AM, August 8, 2012
The Marlins came to Queens last night as Exhibit A in the case that an off-season spending spree doesn’t guarantee happiness and as a cautionary tale for Mets fans who spent the last couple of winters imploring the Wilpons to spend, spend and spend some more.
Miami ownership invested $191 million in free-agent contracts for Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle in an attempt to generate a rush through the turnstiles of the franchise’s glittering new art deco ballpark, hoping against hope the quick fix would pay off with immediate success.
“Nerve-wracking,” is how team president David Samson described his psyche in the flush of the winter meetings, during which the Marlins doubled down. “We need to be right and we will only know once they take the field.
“Every trade sounds good at the winter meetings in December, but it’s the dog days of August when it matters.”
Fact is, the Marlins are the Dogs of Summer, 50-60 following last night’s 4-2 victory over the Mets, entirely out of contention for a playoff berth and generally dreadful enough to have prompted a pre-July 31 purge during which Hanley Ramirez was dispatched to L.A., Gaby Sanchez went to San Diego and Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez were traded to Detroit.
But truth be told, the Mets didn’t have to look across the field into the visiting dugout to recognize the false equivalency between paychecks and performance.
All they and their fans had to do was cast a glance out to left field at Jason Bay, whose four-year, $66 million free-agent contract has become even a worse investment than Facebook on NASDAQ.
Bay’s deterioration as a major league hitter since signing with the Mets on Jan. 5, 2010 is inconceivable. His demotion to assuming the role of a platoon player is apparently imminent.
The 33-year-old, who went 1-for-4 batting out of the five-hole in a game started by lefty Wade LeBlanc, is 3-for-42 over his last 14 games and 7-for-59 since coming off his second trip to the disabled list July 17. He’s batting .157 with 11 RBIs in 134 at-bats this year, .227 for his Mets career.
It has become a sad sight, this good guy professional attempting to rediscover a swing that appears irretrievably lost, nearly three years into his Mets tour during which he has suffered a pair of concussions, has been on the DL four times and has appeared in just less than 60 percent of the club’s games.
It has become a sad sight for Mets’ fans, Bay in the starting lineup.
But Bay is about to give way — apparently to Jordany Valdespin — against right-handers the rest of the way, with manager Terry Collins allowing before the gamet he intends to “make some adjustments out there [in left field].”
“We’ve got to get our left-handed bats in the lineup,” Collins said, even though Bay’s average against righties (.167) is microscopically higher than it is against lefties (.150).
“These guys are having some pretty good years and I want to make sure they get out there, so we’ll depend on matchups for who we want in left field.”
Collins acknowledged the shift in approach would be meaningful enough for him to explain it to Bay, who has one year and $19 million (including a $3 million buyout for 2014) remaining on his contract.
“Certainly Jason and I are going to have to have a conversation about how we’re going to proceed,” the manager said.
This likely will presage a winter conversation between the Mets and Bay during the winter, in which general manager Sandy Alderson explains why the left fielder won’t be returning to Queens next year, even though that will entail eating a huge portion, if not all, of the remaining money due.
These kinds of conversations could not have been imagined when the Mets signed Bay. But then, a purge wasn’t supposed to be necessary for the Marlins.
Spending money neither buys happiness nor guarantees success in sports. A look in the Miami dugout accompanied by a glance at left field would tell that to anyone.Follow @NYPostsports