Monday, January 25, 2010

Would You Want to be Called an Injury in Waiting?

The first part of Nick Cafardo's notes column from yesterday discusses the odd circumstances of Jason Bay's departure, tying his decision to leave to Boston's insistence on a contract with protection clauses against injury. Cafardo points out that Lackey and Drew both agreed to take pay cuts or lose options if they become injured, suspects that Boston will require the same stipulations of Beckett and Papelbon, and noted that Dr. Thomas Gill, the team physician who questioned the strength of Bay's shoulder, made the prescient call on the future of Pedro. As you might expect, all of these points lead up to coup de grace indictment of Bay's decision:
What’s puzzling is that if he felt so confident about his physical condition, and understood how good Fenway and Boston were to him, why wouldn’t he go along with the medical provisions, just as some prominent teammates had? If the Sox - according to Bay’s version - were willing to go three guaranteed years and a fourth year with medical protection at $15 million per year, what was so offensive about that?
I expect the answer is little simpler than Cafardo expects: even though four years at Fenway would likely make Bay's numbers far more attractive than four years at Citi Field, choosing to accept a medical provision brands Bay as a player with suspect boy body parts, even if he makes it all four years without injury. At the end of his contract, Bay would be in his mid-30s, already looking at less money as his career declines, and wouldn't want to carry the value-lowering label of potential injury in the bargain. He may be screwed either way: by declining a medical provision while insisting he's healthy, he gives power to the argument that he's an injury waiting to happen, but I can understand why he might have chosen the contract with the Mets as the lesser of two evils.