Newly acquired Jay Bruce is slated to become the Mets new right fielder which would move current right fielder Curtis Granderson to center field. With Yoenis Cespedes currently unable to play the field for the next five days, that means Michael Conforto can play in left.
However, what happens once Cespedes can play the field?
Cespedes has to play every day, and you didn’t obtain Bruce to sit him. That leaves one position in the outfield to be split between Granderson and Conforto. Given the fact that they are both left-handed batters, you can’t work out a platoon between them. Furthermore, despite all of his struggles this year, Collins has shown no inclination to sit Granderson. He has, however, been comfortable sitting Conforto time and time again. That leaves Conforto as the odd man out.
There is no reason why the 23 year old Conforto should be on the bench further stunting his development. He’s already not facing lefties and sitting against Jose Fernandez. Why further hamper his development for a couple of pinch hitting appearances a week?
Conforto needs to go to AAA and get regular at bats. There the Mets could give him work at first base so he can take over for James Loney this year and/or provide insurance for Lucas Duda‘s ability to return to full strength next year. It will provide the Mets with another option where to play their best young hitter going forward especially if they intend to re-sign Cespedes in the offseason.
It’s a better option than him being a bench player further hampering his development. It’s what’s in the best interest for both Conforto and the Mets.
Once Cespedes can play the field, Conforto needs to go down to AAA.
Last year, the Mets seemingly had a trade in place for Carlos Gomez sending Citi Field abuzz, or in this day and age, I should say a-twitter. Apparently, the only person who was unaware that a trade happened was the Mets manager Terry Collins who kept a crying Wilmer Flores in the field.
As we would subsequently discover, the trade would fall apart due to Gomez’s hip. As a result, Flores and Zack Wheeler would remain New York Mets. In the next game Flores would play, he would do this:
Today, Brandon Nimmo finds himself in a similar situation. He was supposed to be part of the trade that sent Jay Bruce to the Mets. As one of the Mets minor leaguers in the trade failed a physical, the deal had to be reworked. The resulting deal was the Mets sending Dilson Herrera to the Reds instead of Nimmo.
As we saw with Wilmer Flores, the only possible result to this fiasco is Nimmo hitting a game winning home run tonight to beat the New York Yankees.
There were very limited circumstances upon which the New York Mets could bring back Jon Niese, and Mets fans would universally accept the deal. Sandy Alderson showed off his GM chops, and he found a way by acquiring Niese in exchange for Antonio Bastardo.
Bastardo was an absolutely terrible acquisition by the Mets in the offseason. With the Mets, he had a 4.74 ERA and a 1.420 WHIP, and he probably wasn’t even that good. What is most shocking is the fact that he didn’t record one loss with the Mets. Conversely, it should be a surprise to no one that Bastardo had no wins with the Mets. It is quite fitting that Bastardo’s lasting image with the Mets was allowing Carlos Gonzalez hit a ball to the Shea Bridge.
In Niese, the Mets actually get an interesting bullpen piece. Yes, the Mets will utilize him out of the bullpen. Niese was great for the Mets out of the bullpen in the postseason last year, and he was good for the Pirates in the bullpen in a limited sample size this year. Overall, there is a real reason to believe Niese could be a very valuable piece out of the bullpen. Given the fact that he was traded for a player who was absolutely terrible, this was a no brainer for the Mets.
On a side note, this is a good deal as well as Niese has a $500,000 buyout after the year is over whereas Bastardo was slated to receive $6,625,000. That means the Mets will have approximately $6.1 million for next season to dedicate any number of places including but not limited to Yoenis Cespedes who will most likely opt out of his contract at the end of the season.
Even better for the Mets, they get some measure of revenge against Niese. For a player that complained about the Mets defense, Sandy Alderson has handed him a defensive outfield of a hobbled Yoenis Cespedes in left, a miscast Curtis Granderson in center, and a declining defensively Jay Bruce. The lesson as always is to never bad mouth Sandy Alderson or his roster.
The only question remaining with Niese is where he is going to live as Neil Walker is living in his apartment. Wherever he resides, he is going to be an improvement over Bastardo, so with that, Welcome Back Jon Niese.
Right now, if you were going to list what the Mets problems were, two things that would be discussed ad nauseaum would be the offense and hitting with runners in scoring position. While it has not been discussed as frequently, Yoenis Cespedes‘ and Juan Lagares‘ injuries also make center field an issue for the Mets.
The Mets acquisition of Jay Bruce presumably solves the first two Mets problems while only further confounding the center field issue.
First, the offense. There is no doubt that Jay Bruce is your classic left-handed slugger that should be hitting in an RBI position in your lineup. This year Bruce is hitting .265/.316/.559 with 22 doubles, six triples, 25 homers, and a major league leading 80 RBI. He also isn’t a Great American Ballpark creation as Bruce has hit better on the road. In road games, Bruce has slashed .277/.318/.582. More importantly to Mets fans, Bruce is hitting .360/.406/.719 with runners in scoring position. Ideally, the Mets would bat him fifth in the lineup as Bruce has been hitting .290/.340/.603 from that spot in the order.
Still, there is some cause for concern with Bruce. As we see with his stats, he is not nor has he ever been a great on base guy. He is also a guy who is a platoon type of bat as he is hitting .250/.287/.491 off of lefties this year. With that in mind, the Mets might have just added a player that is more of the same.
He is also coming off two straight seasons that saw him hit a combined .222/.288/.406 while averaging 22 homers and 76 RBI. If his July, where he hit .218/.289/.529, is any indication, he might be becoming that type of player again. Furthermore, Bruce has not hit well at all in Citi Field. In 21 games, Bruce has hit .186/.275/.443 with five homers and 13 RBI. Hopefully, some of that is a short sample size and some of that is Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard.
Regardless, Bruce is an offensive upgrade for an injured and under-performing Mets team. However, he is not a defensive upgrade for a team that needs a center field solution.
If reports are true, Bruce is being brought here to play right field rather than to play first base in place of James Loney. That would shift Granderson from right to center. As we saw in the one game Granderson played in center this year, there is a reason why he has not played center regularly since 2012. The other issue is that while Granderson has had a down year defensively in right field, he has been much better than Bruce, who has posted a -11.5 UZR and a -13 DRS this past year. Over the previous two seasons, Bruce has averaged a -5.2 UZR and a -1 DRS meaning he is worse this year than he has been over his career.
With Bruce’s struggles, Granderson’s inability to play center, and Yoenis Cespedes playing on one leg, this outfield should be reminiscent, if not worse, than the Cliff Floyd–Roger Cedeno–Jeromy Burnitz outfield that was seen as an unmitigated disaster defensively.
The other issue is where does this leave Michael Conforto? After everything that has happened this year, are the Mets really going to make him a bench player? Is he going to platoon with another left-handed batter? Does he move to first base? Aren’t you now forced to send him down to AAA until September call-ups? This really leaves your best young hitter and future of your team in a lurch. With all that in mind, it is a very curious move, especially when there was no corresponding move to address any of the Mets other needs.
Overall, Bruce solves some of the Mets problems while exacerbating some others. The best way to deal with all of these issues is for both he and his new teammates to just go out there and hit.
On Friday at 3:00 P.M., things were about as bleak as it could be this season. The Carlos Gomez trade fell apart, and there seemed to be bickering as to whether it was due to Gomez’s hip or the Mets’ finances. On Thursday, the Mets’ bullpen inexplicably blew a six run lead.
Then it seemed the Mets would add Jay Bruce until they didn’t. It sure looked like the Mets were never going to add a bat. Worst yet, the Nationals were coming into NY after previously taking 2/3 from the stud muffins. This was a Nationals team that went 15-4 against the Mets last year.
On the eve of the trade deadline, the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes. The attention around the Mets changed from despair to hope. This hope continued to grow throughout the weekend.
On Friday, it was a dominant Matt Harvey and an emotionally satisfying Wilmer Flores’ walk off homerun. On Saturday, it was the Lucas Duda Fireworks Show. Tonight, Thor was once again the story. Thor went eight innings with two two earned and nine strikeouts.
Thor made the homerun barrage in the third to stand up. On back-to-back pitches, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy homered. After Cespedes’ first hit as a Met, Duda capped off the five run inning with a homerun of his own. Tyler Clippard, in for Jeurys Familia (who pitched two days in a row), recorded his first save as a Mets.
The Mets have flipped the script. They swept the Nationals and are now tied for first place in the NL East. I’m so excited that I’ll ignore they’re one behind in the loss column. The Mets are now 38-18 at home. Surprisingly, they’re 7-6 against the Nationals this season.
The Mets are in a dead heat with the Nationaks and have six head-to-head match ups with them. They have an easy second half schedule. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Mets are in the driver’s seat in the NL East. We’ve waited seven years for this, and so far, it’s been worth the wait. Lets Go Mets!
“Look at me, I can be Centerfield.” That is about as fun as the baseball songs get. Another one of my favorites is “Talkin’ Baseball” with it’s famous refrain of “Willie, Mickey, the Duke.” As you can see, Centerfield is an important position with much history in New York City. You always hear about those good old days of Willie, Mickey, and the Duke playing CF in New York City at the same time. That doesn’t seem fair or possible. The Yankees have had an absurd tradition with their centerfielders with Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. The Mets tradition hasn’t been as good, but then again whose has? However, we’ve had some fun names and good players come through and man centerfield in Flushing.
In 1969, the Mets had Tommie Agee, who for at least the 1969 World Series, was the best defensive CF to ever play the game:
Unfortunately, the Mets did try Willie Mays out in CF in the last two years of his career. From what I’ve been told, it did not end well. Then there was fan favorite Lee Mazzilli, who played for some truly awful Mets teams. However, he was the star, if not the MVP, of of the 1979 All Star Game (back when the ASG meant something). Lee Mazzilli then gave way to Ron Darling. They would both win a World Series together with the Mets in 1986.
Speaking of 1986, the Mets had two other fan favorites who played CF: Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra. Both contributed to the 1986 World Series victory immensely between Dykstra’s leadoff homerun against Oil Can Boyd, and well, we know about Wilson:
After that, we saw a bit of a dry spell with highlights like Lance Johnson, the late Darryl Hamilton, Jay Payton, and Mike Cameron. Then, we were blessed with Carlos Beltran. Say what you will about the Wainwright strikeout, in my opinion, he’s even money on making it into the Hall of Fame, and there’s a significant chance he goes in as a New York Met. Although with the way he was treated here by the fans, and mostly by the Wilpons, he’s probably going in as a Royal.
Now after Juan Lagares’ 2014 Gold Glove season and reasonable contract extension, we’re back to who should play CF. This is important because Lagares has a triple slash line of .254/.280/.333. Even if he was what he was defensively last year, this is unacceptable. Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with his injured elbow. Regardless, CF is now a problem.
It should be noted his splits against LHP are .279/.338/.412. That is much better especially when you consider his defense. Add to the fact that Kirk Nieuwenhuis has hit .333/.400/.444 over the past two weeks (mostly against RHP), there is a real platoon here. Niewenhuis is a very capable CF, but he’s not in Lagares’ league defensively . . . then again who is?
With the Yoenis Cespedes acquisition, there have been some overtures that Curtis Granderson move to CF, a position he hasn’t played since 2012. This is dangerous because the Mets starting pitchers get more outs in the air than on the ground this year. Here are their respective ground ball percentages:
Matt Harvey 44.4%
Jacob deGrom 43.2%
Noah Syndergaard 45.9%
Jon Niese 54.6%
Bartolo Colon 39.9%
According, with the exception of maybe Niese, the Mets need their best defensive outfield out there are all times. This means Lagares must play as much as possible. Granderson and his good OF defense should stay in a corner OF spot where it will remain good defense. While Lagares isn’t hitting and Nieuwenhuis is, the platoon should remain in place.
While we all agree the Mets need to ride their pitching to the postseason, we should also agree that they need to put their best defense out there to help the pitching. Remember helping a pitcher is more than just scoring runs . . . it’s also about preventing runs with good defense. The only effect the Cespedes acquisition should have on the outfield configuration is to demote Michael Conforto to AAA and put Cespedes in LF, where he has played all year. I think that outfield alignment is the best there is that is ready to go out there and play.
I’m done with analyzing potential trades and players. I don’t think the Mets are making any more moves. I don’t think Sandy Alderson had the money to spend. He was bluffing at that press conference because that’s his job. He cannot announce to the world the Mets don’t have the money to add a contract. That’s foolhardy. It reduces your leverage in trade discussions, and it could keep fans away from the ballpark. Both are bad for business, and if anything, Sandy is a good businessman.
Therefore, I’m not going to address how well I think Gerardo Parra will fit on this team, especially given Juan Lagares’ questionable health and offense. I’m not going to address how a Jose Reyes deal will benefit the Mets on the field and in attendance. I won’t go into how Justin Upton has been lousy since April and will only drag the Mets offense further down. I’ve already wasted my breath on Jay Bruce. We all know Yoenis Cespedes and Carlos Gonzalez are not going to be moved by their teams.
Any other players the Mets get besides the aforementioned players are just background noise. They are bench parts that don’t have the day to day impact the Mets need on the field. If the Mets acquire someone, I’ll do a write up on the trade. If the Mets get one of the above, I’ll concede how very wrong I was.
I’m not being pessimistic. I’m being realistic. I do think the team on the field can compete for the postseason and the World Series. When Travis d’Arnaud returns, the team is that much better. If David Wright returns, and is at least a shadow of himself, watch out. If Steven Matz returns, we’re really cooking.
Instead of focusing on what could be, I’m going to focus on what is and enjoy that. I don’t think people do that enough nowadays. I’m going to sit down tonight and watch the Mets game with my son until he falls asleep. I’m going to watch the team on the field, and I’m going to enjoy the game (hopefully). I’m just not going to sit here anymore and fret over what could be. I’m going to enjoy what is.
Despite my assertions to the contrary, the Mets did make a trade, which is significant in more ways than one. After missing out on Parra, the Mets moved onto Michael Conforto. Now, supposedly the Mets are in on Jay Bruce.
Before discussing the cost, we should first consider if the Mets should trade for him. This year in a hitter’s park, Bruce is hitting .258/.341/.484 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI. He is a career .252/.325/.468 hitter. In limited playoff action, he’s hit .258/.361./.516. He 28 years old and is signed through next season with a $13 million team option ($1 million buy out). Translation: he’s a good baseball player on a reasonable contract. He helps this team immensely.
Yes, he is better than Michael Conforto right now. To suggest otherwise is nonsense. Conforto has been terrific since his call-up, but he’s not the player of the caliber of Bruce right now. You can send down Conforto to AAA, and he will have been better for the experience. Plus, Conforto can come up in September and a possibility as a bench bat in the playoffs (God willing).
Now, is he worth the cost of Zack Wheeler? Honestly, I don’t know. For his career, he has an ERA+ of 100, meaning he’s an average pitcher, with a FIP of 3.77, which again suggests he’s an average pitcher. However, Tommy John surgery or not, he’s a 24 year old power pitcher who is not arbitration eligible until 2017 and cannot become a free agent until 2020.
Is two years of Jay Bruce worth five years of Zack Wheeler? I’m not sure, but I lean towards yes because flags fly forever. There is an open window here and a real chance to win the World Series within the next three years (at least). Now, if the Reds want another substantial piece from the Mets, I walk. Flags may fly forever, but you want to be competitive for a long time.
Let’s hope this deal gets done because we need the return of this song to be heard in New York again. I think it’ll sound good for a Bruce Blast, don’t you?