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Release Heath Bell

Tell your sabermetrics to shut up. If you show me any statfangled data that indicate Heath Bell is a heckuva pitcher just waiting to blossom, I will look away. Because if I don’t, I will grab them and shred them. And that would be rude.

I don’t care what Heath Bell did in Norfolk two summers ago or St. Lucie last spring or various garbage times (which we’re wallowing in tonight) at the Major League level. I don’t care how funny he is or how overlooked he was. This guy has no business taking up space on our roster. Maybe he needs a change of scenery, and he’s welcome to it. Maybe he needs more consistent work, but he’s done not a thing to earn it. Not here.

Overreaction to one crap outing against a lineup that won’t allow a pitcher to have a letdown? No. I’ve been mystified from the second we entered the Metsosphere as to why Heath Bell has been such a cause for some. From the time he came up in ’04 through all the times he’s returned, I haven’t seen it. He’s shown as little command as…well, Alay Soler lately.

Speaking of whom, one more start, kid. You get Florida on Friday night because we’re not in a position to be choosy. But if this isn’t a passing fancy, you and clueless blowups, then it’s Tide-ing time again. We’re a bit hard up for pitching, but we’ll figure out something to fill your void.

I hereby renounce the phrases “we have a big lead” and “there’s no reason to panic.” We do have a big lead and there is no reason to panic where the N.L. East is concerned, but neither of those realities is relevant. There are 81-1/2 games remaining in 2006; I will react to each game as I see fit without elaboration or apology that detracts from the point of any given game or stretch of them. All should feel free to do the same. Since the Road Trip From Heaven concluded, the Mets (assuming a massive comeback does not occur after midnight, and down 13-4, I’m assuming that) are 6-10. Big picture notwithstanding, that’s no way to waste one-tenth of a baseball season.

We’re not going to blow the division. There are no ’64 Cardinals or ’95 Mariners lurking below the surface and, pending this coming weekend, I doubt we’ll be on the wrong side of a Marlin miracle. But this does feel as if there are the makings of something resembling a less famous letdown of more recent vintage.

Look at one of the fellows in the dugout for a constant reminder. Y’know Jerry Manuel, our bench coach? He managed a team in 2000, the White Sox, that surprised everybody by building a huge lead in June. Those Sox put away an eternal champion, the Indians, much as we have buried the Braves. And those Sox did not give up their lead. They won the A.L. Central. By the end of that season, however, they were used up. Their pitching was thin, achy and could not maintain against Seattle in the ALDS. Few of us noticed because we were busy in October 2000 and their games were on in the afternoon, but it was sad to take note of.

I don’t worry about us becoming the Chicago Cubs of ’69. I worry about us becoming the Chicago White Sox of ’00. I worry about what will become of the New York Mets of ’06 if they don’t, to use a broadly appropriate catchall phrase, get their act together in the second half.