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Should Huge MLB Contracts Guarantee Playing Time?

There are few things more frustrating in professional sports than the notion that organizations have to play their highest paid players. The idea that a high-paid guy needs to go out and play to “earn” his money, despite the fact that he’s hitting .235 and hasn’t cleared the fences in 100 at bats, is all too common and completely infuriating.

Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

Yesterday, during SNY’s Mets broadcast, Kevin Burkhardt gave an update on Jason Bay’s injury status, mentioning that Terry Collins was unsure as to whether or not Bay will be his starting left fielder when he returns to health. He’s unsure? What in the hell is there to be unsure about? Kirk Nieuwenhuis is in left field right now, and there cannot be any way he would consider relegating him to the bench, right? The rookie is hitting .302, delivering clutch hits game after game, while fielding his position much better than the aged Jason Bay.

It wouldn’t be overly upsetting if the organization moved Kirk back to centerfield, but since they just switched him over to make room for Andres Torres’ return, I can’t see how that would make much sense. The last time they moved a young prospect around like this was the Jose Reyes/Kaz Matuzi experiment of 2004, and we can all remember how well that turned out.

The only legitimate reason why the Mets would be considering forcing Bay back into the starting line-up is because they are paying him $66 million dollars. Well Mr. Wilpon, that sucks for you. At least there’s no one out to sue you for that sketchy investment. Jason Bay has hit a sluggish .250 in his 2+ years in the Blue and Orange. After being signed as a power hitter, he has hit a miserable total of 21 home runs. He has been a bust. As a fan, I don’t care at all what he’s done as a Pirate or a Red Sock, I want the nine guys out on the field who give us the best chance to win, and right now Kirk Nieuwenhuis is certainly one of those nine.

Jason Bay may just be mired in a 2+ year slump. I’m not saying cut the guy (yet). But make him earn his place in the line-up, don’t just hand it to him because you’re wasting money on the guy. As a matter of fact, if the Mets want to get the money in ticket sales to pay for Jason’s contract they better leave him on the pine, because I’d certainly be much more willing to pay to watch this young, up-and-coming team gut out comebacks than an old hack walk from the plate to the dugout with his head down.

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