Sports ‘n’ Things: Mariners, Bay rebuilding

It seems Jason Bay picked the right time to move to Seattle.

It seems Jason Bay picked the right time to move to Seattle.

On the perpetually rebuilding Mariners’ roster, he is a top seven offensive player even while having the third worst season of his career, having rebounded decently from a very poor start.

His overall stats, and .215 batting average, are actually improvements on the numbers he put up during all but one of his injury-plagued years in New York

It turns out as well that Bay, who will turn 35 in September, was the second youngest of the four regular outfielders in Seattle along with being the second most dependable hitter in that mix.

When Bay first hit free agency coming out of very good years in Boston, Seattle, where his home and in-laws are, was one possible landing spot. That prospect ignited an on-line war of words over worries about his strikeout rate and supposed defensive shortcomings. Those supposed shortcomings were detailed by stats geeks (what else, Microsoft and other cyber kings call the area home) in their firm commitment to persuade Mariners’ brass to pass him up.

That attitude sucked, however – the defensive stats in play that called  Bay, who played errorless outfield and lead the American League in assists that season, a deficient defender were quickly called out as false by the statheads that produced them and replaced with much more accurate, and flattering, numbers.

There was a little more truth in the claim that righthanded power hitters struggled in the cavernous Mariners’ home field, however, and in any event the Mets stepped up to acquire the Trail kid.

Well, the fences in left field have been moved in to more reasonable limits and Bay’s natural power is beginning to assert itself. His eight home runs, after the aforementioned slow start, are fourth on the team.

All that being said, and the fact Bay has become a clubhouse favourite, his playing time is likely to be reduced in the near future because Seattle, after trying in vain for so long, may have promoted a quality power hitter in his mid 20’s – who plays Jason’s position.

The new guy, Carlos Peguero, has had a couple of other tries in the bigs with Seattle, albeit against the longer fences, and been found wanting in the long term and returned to the minors, so there won’t be any rush to give up on Bay’s veteran skills. Jason also signed a very team-friendly contract with Seattle, so saving money shouldn’t be a consideration, either.

The Mariners are going nowhere, sit second last in the AL, and it is possible some contender might find, if Bay’s numbers keep going up, a reason to deal for him. Otherwise, we can expect him to spend the rest of his already very good big league career in the major league park closest to his childhood home.

It’s an easy trip to Seattle from here, so we might make a couple of them before this season is out in hopes Trail’s big leaguer will be on the field. Once you get past the having to drive in downtown Seattle stress, the area is nice to visit anyway.

• Happy Canada Day. All the local celebrations are recommended. Take one in, and take someone with you. With its flaws, this is a great country in which to live. Appreciate it.

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