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Mets concede Cardinals won the 2009 free agent derby

There was much heated debate in baseball circles over the 2009-10 off season when the Cardinals gave Matt Holliday a seven-year, $120-million deal about whether things worked out better for St. Louis or for the Mets.

Although the evidence was mounting in the Cardinals' favor, we got the final answer today when the Mets cut Bay loose, agreeing to eat the remaining $21 million left on his deal just to get the struggling fly chase to go away.

While there was thought the Mets might get into a bidding war with the Cardinals for Holliday, they opted instead to sign former Pirates and Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay to a four-year deal for $66 million.

The average annual payout was nearly identical. But "experts" claimed Bay was the better get because of the shorter commitment. But, while Holliday has been productive each of the first three years of his contract, Bay never had a single decent year in New York where he was so unpopular with the fans the Mets could barely play him at home.

Bay has been a .234 hitter since signing with New York while managing to play in only 288 games over the last three years. His best year was 2011 when he played 128 games and hit .245 with 12 homers.

Holliday is a .308 hitter in 508 games over the same span who has averaged 26 homers and 93 RBIs. While he may begin to fade before his contract expires, at least the Redbirds got some production out of the first half of it. Bay's deal was basically a complete waste.