NEW YORK -- Mets fans were ready to unleash their disappointment. In the second inning at Citi Field Tuesday, Jason Bay led off with another weak popout and they let him have it.
They did what they will do until he is gone. They booed.
Good guy or not, Bay brings this negative cloud to the ballpark -- and he can't play. Mostly, he can't play anymore.
He also can't be on the Mets by Opening Day 2013.
Before Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Marlins, the Mets finally demoted Bay to a platoon player, which is fine and dandy except he is making $16 million for part-time work. His four-year, $66 million deal could end up being a worse free-agent contract than Vince Coleman's, Luis Castillo's or Oliver Perez's.
On Tuesday, Bay went 1-for-4 to make him 3-for-his-last-35. He is hitting .157 on the year with five homers and 11 RBIs in 41 games. When he lined a single in the fifth, he received what seemed like a sarcastic cheer. He probably won't be in the lineup the next two nights with righties on the mound.
Right now, Mets GM Sandy Alderson is acting like Bay will return, but, of course, what else is he going to say at this point?
"Certainly, there are times when it is appropriate to eat a contract," Alderson told ESPN New York. "There are other times when it is not. Jason Bay is not going anywhere, nor is his contract."
The Mets will likely try to trade him this winter, seeing if they can find someone else's bad contract to swap. If that doesn't work and he makes it to spring training, they'll hope he looks better. Then -- if Bay appears as rigid and unathletic as he has the last few years -- they should let him go. Alderson has done it before.
During a three-day period in March 2011, the Mets fired two players who were signed under Omar Minaya's administration. In cutting Castillo and then Perez, Alderson ate $18 million. Including his buyout, Bay will have $19 million remaining after this year.
There is no reason to keep him. In situations like these, there is always the fear that Bay could go to another team and do well. If you have watched him play, you know that just isn't happening.
Bay does seem to try, hustling at every opportunity. He is accountable to reporters. This earns him points with some of the media and, as an extension, some fans may not be as hard on him.
But Bay can't stay healthy. Fair or not, Bay is always hurt, which provides everyone an out when trying to explain why he has 23 homers in 259 games as a Met. Yes, the fences were too far out at the inception of the stadium, but consider Bay had 36 homers in 151 games for the Red Sox in his walk year in 2009.
Mets decision-makers can't explain it. They raise their eyebrows and say they don't know what is wrong with Bay. It can't all just be injuries, can it, Sandy?
"I think that has a lot to do with it," Alderson said. "It is hard to tell what factor has contributed most to his situation. Certainly, health has been a factor."
Bay has made the situation more bearable for himself because he can explain himself more smoothly. Unlike Perez and Castillo, Bay's first language is English, making it easier for him to give his side of the story. Unlike Coleman, Bay has no off-the-field fireworks.
Still, that is not enough. Bay is a veteran, but next year he won't be able to lead from the back. He has been a failing player for too long.
After Tuesday night's loss, Bay spoke honestly and nailed the reason it is time for him to go, emphasizing how he doesn't want to be a "distraction." That is all he will be from here on out.
It is best for Bay to see if he can avoid retirement with another team. Bay's boo birds are out in Flushing -- and they are not going away until Jason does.