Time for Mets to part ways with Bay

NEW YORK -- Jason Bay made his 2011 New York Mets debut on Thursday night.

Now, if only the team can figure out a way to get rid of him.

For sure, it may sound a bit harsh. But in reality, Bay represents all that has been wrong with the Mets the past five or so years. The team is filled with overpaid players who never lived up to their paychecks.

Bay, who hadn't played in a major league game since July 25, 2010, was back at the plate at Citi Field against the Houston Astros.

In his first at-bat, Bay, who came off the 15-day disabled list with a strained left rib cage, appeared to be in midseason form -- especially for Citi Field and since he put on a Mets' uniform.

The would-be slugger struck out.

And it wasn't pretty, either.

"My first at-bat felt like Opening Day,'' said Bay, who was 1-for-4 in the Mets' 9-1 victory. "I was a little stiff.

"After I got that out of the way, I felt like I could relax a little bit. All and all, I was pleased. It has been quite the layoff, to get out there and get your feet back under. It felt good.''

In a perfect world, the Mets can only hope that Bay can catch fire at the plate and get some other team -- any team -- interested in him. The Mets have to move on from Bay. Clearly, he represents the faulted past, not the future.

It will be no easy task, trying to move an unproductive player who is in the second year of a four-year, $66-million deal. Did the Mets really sign him to that pact?

A team would have to be desperate for a slugger and the Mets would probably have to pay half the contract. Still, it would be worth it. The mistakes of the past have to be deposed of -- even if it means pouring ketchup on those contracts and eating them.

It's hard to believe that Bay -- the masher at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox two years ago with 36 home runs and 119 RBIs -- hit only six home runs for the Mets last season.

At Citi Field, he batted .277 with three homers. On the road, he batted a woeful .243 with three homers.

"You try to take something positive [from last season],'' said Bay, who batted .259 in 2010 with 47 RBIs. "I feel like I'm much better than that guy. I'm rededicated to that, just trying to get back to that. Somewhere last year, I lost it. I lost being that guy.''

Sadly, Bay was caught up on the dimensions of Citi Field. Often, he thought he hit the ball far, but they seldom wound up home runs in the big ballpark. Somehow, Bay believes, he will be better suited for Citi Field this time around.

"Maybe, at times last year, you hit some balls well or something happens,'' Bay said. ``It's human nature to get frustrated.

"You try to not let it bother you. ... I'm hoping that year is going to kind of be helpful in some way.''

Mets' fans should pray and root their hardest that Bay -- who had a cheap ground-rule double to right field in his second at-bat -- can get hot for a prolonged period of time.

Anything short of that and the Mets will be stuck -- again. The same way they were stuck with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

The Mets finally gave up on both of them this spring, releasing them and paying them loot not to play.

The franchise can only hope their fortunes will change soon, that finally one of those players they paid millions for will come through and give them a chance to correct a huge mistake and get this sad-sack franchise on the track to recovery.

It's not impossible to get the Mets' turnaround. But it has to begin with unloading dead-end players in exchange for prospects.

The Mets should start with Bay -- as soon as possible.