The Winter Meetings are almost over. Hooray for the end of speculation being the new gold. Mariner fans specifically have been subject to an onslaught of rumors. Metaphors and analogies are not my strong suite so instead please see below a pictoral representation of the last four days:
Despite this bullet hell-like experience the only tangible reality to emerge has been Jason Bay. You remember Jason Bay, that guy that was good back when you were in Junior High. He’s best known for being the only piece of value for some truly awful Pirates teams and for being the preferred acquisition of the casual Mariner fan back in the winter of 2009. Despite that clamor the Mariners elected to pay for defense, speed and a skillset better suited to weather the early to mid 30’s and paid Chone Figgins. Proof that you can dodge pain and misery but eventually those bastards will find you. Best to just lay down and surrender now.
Bay of course was nothing but an epic failure in New York. His power was almost completely sapped by Citi Field, age and injury. Last year he cratered to a Figgins-like .536 OPS. Combined with below average corner outfield defense and you have an older, worse defending Jeff Francoeur, which is just, ewwwwwwwwww.
But he’s cheap. Reports have his salary at no more than a million dollars, a number that makes him easy to dump the moment a better option is available. In fact, Bay probably doesn’t even beat any of the current in house options. Many have rightfully pointed out that he is probably already a worse player than Casper Wells in every way. His “local” upbringing and willingness to sign with the team are probably the only reason this got done in the first place.
The narrative surrounding this signing feeds into every tired cliché about the Mariners being cheap/stupid/last on every player’s wishlist. The most cynical probably view the Mariners reported interest in big names as a false attempt designed solely to keep up the appearance of competitiveness before they can slaughter more kittens and sell the blood to fuel their evil machinations. I understand the sentiment. We’ve heard names like Hamilton, Swisher and Upton coupled with the Mariners for three days. We got Jason Bay. When you go shopping for new TV and look at the 75” 3D LCD display it’s a bummer when you end up with the old 32” box set you saw outside a guy’s lawn with the “free” sign on it. However, the thing to keep in mind is that if and when that free TV goes bad you just toss it in the dumpster and you still have the same budget for a new one.
What’s worth knowing are these facts: The odds are that Jason Bay will not be a Mariner past the middle of May. He will get released, another team will claim him, stash him in AAA by for a few months and then disappear to a life of temporal wealth and pleasure with his family. If those things don't happen it's because something better has happened. The Mariners know this. This is hitting on eighteen because you’re up 10k and you’re wasting time at the $5 table. If you believe the team thinks otherwise you’re needlessly pessimistic.
The Mariners have and will give you plenty of real reasons to be disappointed. This is not one of them.