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The Jason Bay era came to an abrupt end for the Red Sox today as the lanky left fielder reportedly signed with the New York Mets. Bay signed a $66 million deal that looked a lot alike the offer he was given by Boston just a couple of months ago. Bay should fit in well behind Carlos Beltran and David Wright in the Met batting order.
For Boston, this move signals the start, barring any Matt Holliday magic, of the Mike Cameron era. Cameron, five years older than Bay, signed for about half the yearly cost of Bay. To many this looks like the Sox getting weaker, after all Bay hit 36 home runs with 119 RBI in 2009 while Cameron had just 24 and 70. Bay also hit 17 points higher (.267 to .250).
On closer examination however, one has to look at the factors that played into those numbers. Bay played in a park well suited for his pull style. Cameron played in Milwaukee, a pitchers park. Bay had the somewhat weakened but still powerful Boston offense around him scoring 872 runs. Cameron’s Brewers put up just 785. These factors could indicate that Cameron will benefit greatly by playing half his games in Fenway, while Bay’s production should dip some in the pitcher friendly Citi Field.
Red Sox fans should take heart in an even more glaring comparison, Jason Bay’s 2007 campaign, his last full season with Pittsburgh, looks an awful lot like Cameron’s 2009.
Bay 2007 – .247, 21 HR, 84 RBI, .746 OPS
Cameron 2009 – .250, 24 HR, 70 RBI, .795 OPS
While Bay’s 2007 was admittedly a career low, his numbers improved markedly after he joined the Red Sox in 2008. Cameron may not fill the shoes of a 119 RBI man in 2010, but he certainly isn’t a big downgrade. At half the cost, credit Theo Epstein for a value buy.
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