Jay Bruce

Mets Fans Have Been Watching An Eclipse All Season

Right around this time, the moon will pass between the Earth and the sun bringing darkness across the country . . . or as Mets fans like to call it, the perfect euphemism for the 2017 season.

We’ve seen Noah Syndergaard go down for the season, and we are not sure when Jeurys Familia can come back.  Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler were mishandled coming back from their injuries.  Steven Matz had another injury plagued year.  We never did get to see David Wright play this season, and we do not know if we will ever get to see him play again.

With the poor season the Mets are having, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Rene Rivera, and Neil Walker have been moved and are now playing for teams with an actual shot at the postseason.  The moves didn’t bring back much, and there were rumors the Mets were more interested in salary relief than anything causing fans to go back to a dark place they resided at the inception of the Madoff scandal.

The thing is, the eclipse today will last just a brief time.  Sandy Alderson has an entire offseason to get to work.  If ownership lets him spend the money, and with a little help on the health front, the Mets dark period will last just for the 2017 season.  If it is business as usual, this isn’t an eclipse – we’re back to the Dark Ages.

Terry Collins Needs To Stop Giving Dominic Smith The Michael Conforto Treatment

Last night, the Yankees brought on Aroldis Chapman to close out a Yankees three run lead.  After Wilmer Flores struck out to begin the inning, Dominic Smith strode up to the plate in what would be the rookie’s biggest test in his brief major league career.  Seeing how he hit an opposite field homer earlier in the game, and Rafael Devers hit a huge home run against Chapman in Chapman’s last save attempt, this was promising to be a very interesting match-up.

Sorry, no, the match-up never happened.  Instead, Terry Collins pinch hit for Smith with Jose Reyes.

This is not the first time we have seen this play with Collins.  During Michael Conforto‘s first two years with the Mets, Collins did not let his young left-handed hitter face left-handed pitching.  Instead, he would bat Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares, Justin Ruggiano, Ty Kelly, or really any warm body on the bench to prevent Conforto from facing a left-handed pitcher.

The end result of Collins’ refusal to play Conforto against left-handed pitching was Conforto actually struggling against left-handed pitching.  Over his first two big league seasons, Conforto hit .129/.191/.145 with just one extra-base hit, a double, in the 68 at-bats he did get against left-handed pitching.

However, there was no reason to sit Conforto against left-handed pitching.  His hitting coach, Kevin Long, found the notion that Conforto can’t hit left-handed pitching absurd.  Conforto hit left-handed pitching in both his collegiate and brief minor league career.  Still, despite Conforto’s ability to hit left-handed pitching everywhere else, Collins decided to sit him against left-handed pitching.

When pressed on it, Collins said, “We’re in a situation where we’re trying to win games.  This is not a time to develop players.”  (Barbara Barker, Newsday).

Assuming Collins is correct that you shirk the responsibility of developing young players because you have designs on winning a World Series, why is he now repeating the same tactics with Smith?

Currently, the Mets are 10 games under .500.  The team has to win 62% of their remaining games just to get to .500.  The team has already traded away Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker.  If an opportunity presents itself, Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, and Rene Rivera will find new homes before the end of the month.  Put more succinctly, this team is not in a position where they are trying to win games – this is a time to develop players.

Pinch hitting for Smith the very first opportunity he gets to face a left-handed pitcher in the majors does nothing to accomplish that goal.

Overall, unless Collins is facing some delusions of grandeur, there is no reason to believe the Mets are winning anything in 2017.  Smith is ticketed to be the Mets starting first baseman in 2018.  To that end, the rest of the regular season should be dedicated to helping him best prepare for the 2018 season.  Sitting him against left-handed pitching only hinders his development.

Maybe, just maybe Collins was never truly concerned with player development.  Maybe in his mind young left-handed batters are just incapable of hitting left-handed pitching.  It is likely the reason why he previously sat Conforto against left-handed pitching, and it is the reason why he’s doing it with Smith now.

It’s poor managing, and it has had a tangible effect on player development.  Collins might have had his excuse with Conforto, but he doesn’t have that excuse with Smith now.  If Collins shields Smith from a left-handed pitcher just one more time, the Mets are going to have to find someone else to manage.  Simply put, you cannot permit Collins to hinder Smith’s development to win some meaningless games.

Bruce Wasn’t Worth The Qualifying Offer

One of the reasons Mets fans were angry about the return of Ryder Ryan for Jay Bruce was the fact many believed the Mets could have offered Bruce a qualifying offer, and they then could have recouped a second round pick when Bruce signed a big deal elsewhere.  While we all should be able to agree Ryan was not second round value, the point that Bruce would automatically reject a qualifying offer is flawed.

This past offseason teams have shown they no longer value players like Bruce the way they once did.  If the Mets inability to move Bruce this offseason wasn’t any indication, and if the return the Mets got for Bruce wasn’t any indication, then look at what happened to Mark Trumbo last year.

Trumbo took a one year flier with the Orioles, and he had a monster year leading the majors with 47 homers.  In total, Trumbo hit .256/.316/.533 with 27 doubles, a triple, 47 homers, and 108 RBI.  That was good for a 122 OPS+ and a 123 wRC+.

On the strength of this season, the 30 year old Trumbo would reject the qualifying offer only to be met with a tepid free agent market.  Without Trumbo being able to garner the interest he believed would be present, he went back to the Orioles on a three year $37.5 million deal.

It wasn’t just Trumbo either.  Other sluggers like Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Chris Carter were met with surprisingly soft markets this offseason.

The conclusion that can be best drawn for this is the market just doesn’t value sluggers the way it once did.  With the qualifying offer being worth around $18 million next year, there was a very real chance Bruce was going to accept that qualifying offer meaning the Mets got no draft pick compensation.

It would also mean the Mets outfield would have been a disaster defensively.  We know Bruce is not a center fielder, and we also know Yoenis Cespedes no longer belongs out there.  The argument would be Michael Conforto could.  He has shown he can handle it in spurts, but long term that is a bad proposition.  In 327.2 innings there, Conforto has a -2 DRS and a 0.2 UZR.

Seeing how the Mets played this year, the biggest thing they need to do is to upgrade defensively.  That goes double for key defensive positions like shortstop and center field.  Fortunately, the Mets have Amed Rosario at short.  Who knows if the answer is Juan Lagares or a name outside the organization for center.  The one thing we do know it’s not Bruce.

There’s another consideration as well.  The Mets need to make wholesale changes this offseason, which is going to require a lot of money.  For a team that took a lesser return for Bruce partially due to the savings it brought them, we should worry about Bruce’s $18 million hindering the Mets ability to fully address all of the teams needs just like it happened last year when Neil Walker accepted his qualifying offer.

Overall, the Mets needed to trade Bruce to get some return for him.  The return was lackluster for many, but in reality, it reflects more upon how teams value sluggers like Bruce.  At a minimum, the Mets got something for him, and they have freed up playing time for Dominic Smith and Brandon NimmoAll they have to do now is actually play those players.

The Dominic Smith Era Begins

Whether it is because the Mets want to change the narrative after the much maligned Jay Bruce trade, or because he was more than ready, the New York Mets have finally called Dominic Smith up to the majors. With that, the Dominic Smith Era has begun. 

It is an era we all should be excited to see.

Smith is the second highest draft pick of the Sandy Alderson Era.  His being drafted 11th overall in the 2013 draft leaves him one behind Michael Conforto, who was 10th overall the following year. It should be pointed out despite being drafted the previous year, Smith is actually two years younger. 

Smith is also the sixth first round pick from the Sandy Alderson Era to reach the majors. Two of them, Conforto and Michael Fulmer were All Stars this year. It’s certainly possible Smith will be the third. 

Smith has improved once again at the plate this year. In 114 games with Las Vegas, he’s hitting .330/.386/.519 with 34 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, and 74 RBI. This season, he has already set personal bests in runs, doubles, triples, homers, extra base hits, total bases, and isolated power.

Smith led the Pacific Coast League in base hits and doubles. He was second in total bases.

For the second straight season, Smith has taken off in the second half. Since July 1st,  he’s hitting .345/.401/.633 with 14 doubles, a triple, eight homers, and 30 RBI. On the strength of this month, he’s received a number of accolades including being named the Player of the Month. 

More than that, he’s quieted some concerns about whether he’d ever hit for enough power to play first base. Mind you, he doesn’t have to hit for much. Between his terrific defense at first, his continuous good OBP, and his extra base hits, Smith doesn’t need to hit for many homers. Still, his setting a career high in homers in consecutive seasons is reason for excitement. 

His just being with the Mets is cause for excitement alone. It’s a sign he’s ready. It’s a sign the Mets are putting the pieces in place to begin winning again as soon as next year.  It’s a reason to hope. 

The Dominic Smith Era is now upon us, and not a moment too soon. Hopefully, it will last a decade or more. 

Trivia Friday – How a 1987 Draft Pick Led to the Jay Bruce Trades

With Jay Bruce now being a member of the Cleveland Indians, there are many things that will be analyzed, especially the return the Mets received for him.  One thing that hasn’t gotten much attention was how the Mets may never have been able to obtain Bruce or even trade him away without their 1987 eighth round draft pick.

Can you figure out how the Mets got to that point?  Good luck!


Ryder Ryan Dilson Herrera Max Wotell Marlon Byrd John Buck R.A. Dickey Josh Thole Mike Nickeas Victor Diaz Jeromy Burnitz Benny Agbayani Todd Zeile Lenny Harris Glendon Rusch Bill Pulsipher Luis Lopez Tim Bogar

deGrom Beats Phillies Like He Always Does

Entering tonight, Jacob deGrom had never lost to the Phillies. With the Phillies being one of the few teams in baseball actually worse than the Mets, it wasn’t about to happen tonight. 

deGrom dominated the Phillies over his 6.2 shutout innings allowing just four hits while walking none and striking out nine. The only way the Phillies could take him out of the game would be a Nick Williams line drive off deGrom with two outs in the seventh. 

Terry Collins did the right thing pulling deGrom from the game. With the Mets going nowhere, there’s no need to risk anything. There’s less of a reason with the Mets being up 7-0. 
One thing we have learned over the years is the Mets have always loved hitting at Citizens Bank Park. In fact, the Mets have homered there more than any other opponent. Tonight, the festivities began with a Wilmer Flores first inning three run homer off starter Vince Velasquez

Velasquez wouldn’t last more than an inning. The Phillies would then bring in Al Leiter‘s nephew Mark Leiter

He’d fare much better than Velasquez with the lone run against him coming off a Neil Walker solo shot in the third. 

It was interesting to see Walker at third again tonight, especially with the Yankees reportedly having interest in him. I’m sure there will be a team to step in to offer a low rated Single-A reliever to prevent that deal from happening. 

The Mets didn’t score again until Michael Conforto hit a three run shot in the seventh off Phillies reliever Jesen Therrien

Conforto got the home run from the clean-up spot. Now that the Mets have traded Jay Bruce, Collins has re-inserted Curtis Granderson in the lead-off spot for the foreseeable future. Collins also promises to keep Conforto in the middle of the lineup as preparation for next year. 

Speaking of Granderson, he hit a two run homer in the ninth to give the Mets a 9-0 lead. 

That 9-0 lead became 10-0 with a Jose Reyes RBI groundout. 

Overall, the Mets annihilated the Phillies. Flores was a triple short of the cycle. Every position player but Travis d’Arnaud reached base. He and Amed Rosario were the only two Mets without a hit. 

The Mets needed more games like this during the 2017 season. In fact, this is just the Mets fourth shut out on the season. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way. Still, we should enjoy them whenever they come. 

Game Notes: Dominic Smith will join the Mets tomorrow. 

Good Luck Jay Bruce

You have to give credit to Jay Bruce.  He was dreadful when he first came to the Mets last year.  In 50 games as a Met last year, Bruce hit just .219/.294/.391 with five doubles, eight homers, and 19 RBI, and that is with him having an eight game hot streak to end the season where he put up half his homers and eight of his 19 RBI.  It was his worst stretch as a professional.

From there he faced the indignity of people questioning whether Bruce could hack it in New York.  If that wasn’t bad enough, he spent an offseason facing the indignity of knowing no one really wanted him.  The Mets put a for sale sign for him, and teams weren’t exactly rushing to scoop him up. It is with this we learned just what a true professional he was.

Bruce put everything aside, and he went out there and prepared for the 2017 season.  He worked with Kevin Long to try to become a better hitter.  It worked.

So far this season, Bruce hit .256/.321/.520 with 29 homers and 75 RBI.  It was a return to his All Star form.  It was one of the best seasons of his career.  He was on pace for his first 40 homer season and just his second career 100 RBI season.

It wasn’t just his play at the plate, he was much better in the field.  A player that was a -12 DRS and a -19.2 over the past three seasons was a 7 DRS and 2.6 UZR player for the Mets this season.  Between this and hit hitting, it is the reason Bruce has a WAR over 1.0 for the first time since 2013.

However, it is more than the numbers and improved play.  He was a good teammate who did what the Mets needed him to do.  On two different occassions, Bruce went to first base because that’s where the Mets needed him to go.  He served as a mentor and friend to Michael Conforto, who is having a breakout season of his own.

Bruce was a good Met this year, and he was one of the lone bright spots.  Unfortunately, it was time for the team to move on from him.  The corner outfield positions are set with Conforto and Yoenis CespedesDominic Smith should be up soon to serve as the team’s first baseman. With that, it was best for the Mets to move to the future as soon as possible.

It was also best for Bruce to play in a pennant race.  After the season he had, and with his willingness to do whatever was asked of him, the Mets did owe it to him to send him to a contender.  He’s now with a team that was in the World Series last year.  If Bruce continues playing the way he has this year, the Indians may very well get back there.  Here’s hoping they do.

Good Luck Jay Bruce!

Mets Only Hurt Themselves By Not Trading Duda Or Bruce To The Yankees

Heading into the trade deadline, there were rumors the Mets were willing to eat salary in order to maximize the return for a player. There were also the rumors the Mets would be willing to trade with the Yankees.

Ultimately, both rumors proved to be false.

When it came to Lucas Duda, the return from the Tampa Bay Rays was arguably weak.  In exchange for a top 10 first baseman, the Mets got a relief prospect.  Sure, Drew Smith could ultimately be a good reliever, but he’s still a reliever in the Vic Black/Bobby Parnell mold – big arm, hard time putting batters away.

The argument in response will be there was a weak market for 1B/DH players, and Duda had an e luring deal. Lost in the argument was the Mets failed to create a real bidding war.

As Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reported, the Mets didn’t make Duda available to the Yankees. As an unnamed Yankees official stated, “he Mets just wouldn’t trade him to us.”

To those who were skeptical of the report, please turn your attention to the Jay Bruce trade.

In exchange for a player on pace for a 40 HR, 100 RBI season, the Mets received Ryder Ryan from the Cleveland Indians. Ryan is a former 30th round pick who is a converted reliever. In the deal, the Indians took on all of Bruce’s salary.

For those Mets fans thinking Bruce should’ve netted more, you might be right.

According to Marc Carig of Newsday, the Yankees were interested in Bruce, and according to his sources, the Yankees were offering two prospects many teams inquired about at the trade deadline. According to Carig, “Yankees would have covered only a portion of salary, but Yankees offered better players it seems.”

If true, this is complete and utter nonsense. The Yankees possess a deep farm system with players who could have helped the Mets in the long run.

Who cares if Duda or Bruce helped the Yankees win a World Series?  They weren’t helping the Mets win one this year. In fact, the only way these players would’ve helped the Mets win a World Series was to get an important piece in return who could have been a significant part of a winner. At the moment, it’s hard to make that argument for Smith or Ryan.

In reality, a Mets team who has been unwilling to spend commensurate with their market size and window of contention, once again took the cheap route. They dumped two players on smaller market teams and got underwhelming returns.

Their actions proved they were unwilling to ear salary for a better return, and they were unwilling to help the Yankees win. It was petty, small-minded, and it was bad business.

It doesn’t matter if this came from Sandy Alderson or Jeff Wilpon. What matters is it happened, and the Mets are arguably worse off for it. In the end, I really hope Smith and Ryan was worth it. Chances are they won’t be.

UPDATE: It gets better.  Not only did the Mets care more about money than the prospect return, but they also cared about those four meaningless games against the Yankees

Give Us A Reason To Watch

Look, we can all agree the Dodgers are a much better team than the Mets.  There are several reasons why this is the case, and there is another time to re-evaluate how the Mets have gone from beating the Dodgers in the 2015 NLDS to being completely over-matched in a three game series where Clayton Kershaw didn’t even pitch.

Teams have bad series all the time.  Even when the Mets are good, we see clunkers like this from time to time.  However, this series seemed more than that.  This was a team thoroughly out-classed on the field.  It makes you shudder when you consider the Mets had Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo going.

At this point, it’s time to press the reset button.  We all know the Mets aren’t going to the postseason.  With each passing day, even getting to .500 is a pipe dream.  For what it’s worth, getting to .500 is detrimental.  The Mets need to lose as many games as they can to get the best possible draft pick they can in the 2018 draft.  You want the Mets to be able to go and draft the next Michael Conforto.

No matter what happens, we know the Mets are going to continue to lose a number of games to close out the season.  That’s fine.  We’ve all accepted it.  What we cannot accept is turning on the game and watching a team lose without any purpose whatsoever.

What is the team accomplishing by playing Wilmer Flores and Jay Bruce at first base?  Neither one of them are going to be the first baseman next year.  That job is going to Dominic Smith.  With each game Flores and Bruce play first, and Smith remains in the minors, the Mets have accomplished absolutely nothing.

What does playing Curtis Granderson everyday accomplish?  He’s been a good Met and an even better man.  He’s also accepted a role as the team’s fourth outfielder.  It’s likely he will be gone after the 2017 season.  With each game he plays, you learn nothing about him.  All the while, Brandon Nimmo sits languishing on your bench not even getting at-bats in Triple-A to help him improve as a player.

For that matter, why is Gavin Cecchini in Triple-A?  Do we really need to learn more about Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera?  Isn’t one or two of them likely gone after the season?  If not, aren’t their roles going to be much different in 2018?  Reyes should be firmly on the bench in 2018, and Cabrera has shown he should be at third base.  If that is the case, why isn’t Cecchini playing second base over these two?

Ultimately, you can justify playing any of the aforementioned veterans you want.  Certainly, you want Neil Walker to showcase himself to teams after a lengthy disabled list stint.  However, the aforementioned veterans have already been showcased and teams have passed on them for a variety of reasons.  Playing them everyday serves this Mets team no purposes.  That is unless the Mets are going to have a huge push to celebrate Bruce passing Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley for the Mets single season home run record like they pushed Reyes winning the Mets first ever batting title.  Note, Reyes’ batting title didn’t exactly draw fans to the park.

Calling up Amed Rosario was a step in the right direction.  Seeing Paul Sewald pitch in some high leverage situations is another step.  Taking a chance on Chris Flexen was inspired.  However, it’s simply not enough.  Sooner or later, Mets fans are going to tune out these games . . . if they haven’t already.

To that end, it’s time to get Smith and Cecchini up here and play them everyday or close to it.  Fans would rather see them work through some growing pains at the major league level than watch Bruce, Cabrera, Granderson, Reyes, and Walker lose in lackluster fashion.

It’s time to turn the page if for no other reason than it’s time to give fans a reason to watch what has become a dreadful team.

Mets, Dodgers, Sunday Night Game, Blowout

The New York Mets were playing on Sunday night.  They were scheduled to play the Los Angeles Dodgers who are currently on a pace to win 115 games.  The question wasn’t whether the Mets would lose.  The question was whether the game would be competitive.

SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t.

Shocking, I know.

Effectively speaking, this game was over in the first inning.  The shame of it was the Mets initially seemed to get out of that inning unscathed.  Travis d’Arnaud made a strong throw to beat Justin Turner at second.  However, that’s not what happened.  Upon review, Turner made a swim move avoiding the tag.  It would turn out to be one of the three stolen bases on the nigh against d’Arnaud and Steven Matz.

After the play, Matz would give up a walk and three hits giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.  It would have been 4-0 except Michael Conforto made a good throw from center to nail Austin Barnes at the plate.   It was a good block of the plate by d’Arnaud.

However, it didn’t matter much.  Hyun-jin Ryu dominated a Mets team that frankly looks disinterested right now.  Over seven innings, he allowed just one hit to d’Arnaud while striking out eight batters over seven innings.  That would be the Mets only hit in the game.

On the other side, Turner would hit a two run homer off Matz, and Josh Smoker would allow a two run shot of his own to Cody Bellinger.  Apparently, Terry Collins doesn’t have access to Baseball Reference because he continues to try to use Smoker to get tough left-handed batters out despite Smoker having reverse splits.

That’s at least better than whatever Matz is doing now.  His last six starts, including tonight, have been absolutely terrible.  His pitching 5.1 inning is a moral victory at this point.  There is something clearly wrong with him whether it is mechanical, mental, or like most of his career, physical.

Because he is now a member of the Mets bullpen, AJ Ramos had to give up a run to make it 8-0. 

In sum, the Mets lost another game to the Dodgers, and they got swept in the season series in which they were not competitive.  This is the first time there has been a season series sweep in this 55 year rivalry.  Isn’t that just the perfect allegory to the 2017 season?  The Dodgers reach new heights while the Mets are irrelevant.

Game Notes: Turner made his old team pay again going 2-4 with three runs, a homer, two RBI, and two stolen bases.  Jay Bruce and Neil Walker sat with some injury issues.  Walker would make a pinch hitting appearance.