Every day we'd walk into the Met locker room and there was Jason Bay with the look on his face that he had run out of answers. Nobody could ever question his work ethic but as Sandy Alderson put it, "We are in a results business." For the Met General Manager, Jason Bay represented more than just a hole in the middle of the Met lineup--he symbolized the fact that his mere presence limited the ability to make this team better.
Beyond that Bay had become a whipping boy for the Met fans who personified what is wrong with the team and that clouded the future. Although terms of the buyout were not disclosed, you would expect that the Mets paid a large portion of it but any relief Alderson could get would have a monetary effect on the team's payroll. It also creates an opportunity for the Mets to either cultivate a younger player or look outside the organization.
One thing is crystal clear from my conversations with Sandy Alderson and that is he intends to make changes this off-season as the evaluation process with this team has concluded. He will continue to reinforce his minor league system and we saw the start of that with the advent of the "Matt Harvey Era" last season. There are others on the way but the intention is to improve the team this off-season with more power in the lineup and more power arms in the bullpen. The free-agent class is not deep this year so he will have to be creative but all eyes will be on a general manager who enters his first off-season in the post-Madoff era.
One thing we should have all learned this season is that building a baseball team is not about throwing millions of dollars at a problem. It certainly did not work for the Miami Marlins. And while the Los Angeles Dodgers and Anaheim Angels have spent the last 12 months spending money like a teenager who just got dad's credit card, it should be noted that the subtle moves made the difference in places like San Francisco where Marco Scutaro became the bargain of the trading deadline.
The key is building a starting rotation which the Mets have begun to accomplish as guys like Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler, and Jonathan Niese (not to mention RA Dickey and Johan Santana) give them a formidable corp of pitchers. The bullpen is a mess and the offense needs 2 big bats. Addressing both of those problems will be difficult to do in one off-season but more payroll flexibility will surface at this time next year.
In the meantime, one of the biggest obstacles to success has been removed from the roster at least from a personnel perspective if not from a financial perspective. Signing David Wright to a long-term deal would be yet another step in building a foundation while rewarding a player who has been the face of the franchise. But the Mets took a giant step today in showing the world they are back in business. Many more steps need to be taken to get the trust of the fans back but you have to start somewhere and parting ways with Jason Bay early in the post-season shows that Sandy Alderson is committed to building a winner in Flushing.