Mets hope Bay deal leads to more

Mets hope Bay deal leads to more

NEW YORK -- By any and all indications, the Mets were moving at a Bengie Molina pace as they pursued power for their unplugged batting order. All around them, clubs -- the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and even the Nationals -- had fortified themselves for 2010. And the Mets had added merely understudy catchers, an untested reliever from Japan and a pitcher who spent most of the past two seasons where too many Mets spent their 2009 summer -- on the disabled list.

The patrons of Citi Field clamored for a reason to be encouraged. If not Moilina, they said, give us Barajas. Some beseeched the Mets to bring Yorvit Torrealba to Queens. And, of course, the pie-in-the-skiers and drive-time alarmists wanted Adrian Gonzalez, John Lackey, Orlando Hudson, Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro, a trade for Roy Halladay and a promise to acquire Joe Mauer.

They'd demonstrate patience and wait a year for Mauer. But if the others weren't on the roster by New Year's Eve, it would be the Mets who had dropped the ball, and their 2010 would be the aftershock of the 2009 quake. Time was running out. The window was closing.

Turns out the window was a Bay Window, one with all sorts of sunshine streaming through it. It's a brighter day in Queens.

The Mets have said nothing thus far to indicate a deal has been struck with Jason Bay, the 31-year-old slugger from Canada. They want to be certain his shoulders -- they intend to burden both of them -- are strong, healthy and durable. But if their own embargo were not in place, the Mets would say this -- 2009, the year of the plague, is over. Happy 2010. Or at least happier.

Now, a player dressed in white -- or whatever off-white garments the Mets will wear in the new decade -- hitting a baseball into the seats of Citi Field promises to be a less isolated event. Now, the Mets have a better chance of putting some mileage in the center-field Apple and some crooked numbers on Citi's many boards.

The Phillies remain a superior team, and for what it's worth, so do the teams from the Boston Fens and the Bronx. But the Mets have taken their first meaningful step in what they hope will be a round tripper. If and when the results of the physical clear Bay for signing the four-year, $66 million contract that has been negotiated, the Mets will have reached first base.

Adding Molina would put them on second. Perhaps the improvement represented by Bay's acquisition will move the immovable catcher to bring his game from the West Coast. But as the Mets of 2009 repeatedly demonstrated, reaching scoring position doesn't get it done.

The addition of a starting pitcher would serve as a ground ball to second base and advance the 2010 Mets to third. Perhaps Pineiro will reduce his asking price and make it more commensurate with what he has accomplished in his career, allowing the Mets to add him, too.

And once they're on third ... well, there are lots of ways to advance 90 feet from that point. Finding a taker for Luis Castillo -- no simple task -- and signing Hudson are the moves the Mets have in mind.

And then wait for February to arrive and the refurbished Mets to arrive in Port St. Lucie. The work of GM Omar Minaya and his staff is far from done. The lower levels of the organization require refurbishing, too. But what the Mets have almost accomplished now not only will enhance the batting order, but it will also provide their other players and their public a mental health day.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.