Jay Bruce for Dilson Herrera was a bad trade. It made me angry when it happened. When Bruce came up for his first at-bat in Citi Field and got a standing ovation, I was wondering why anyone was even a little happy to see him in a Mets uniform. How Bruce played over the next six weeks made me even more upset. What a horrendous trade this was.
Then the offseason happened. Bruce was supposed to be traded for a lottery-ticket prospect and a box of Cheez-Its just to clear some roster space for Michael Conforto, the undisputed future of the franchise. I had many internet arguments about how Bruce should not be on the New York Mets in 2017, how he absolutely should be traded, and how it would be a very bad thing for Bruce to block Conforto.
But then he was not traded, and Conforto started the season on the bench. What a terrible series of events. Surely this was horrible. I was in attendance on Opening Day, and I remember looking out to right field multiple times just to confirm to myself that, yes, after all we went through over the winter, that spot was still occupied by Bruce, not Conforto. I audibly sighed every time I looked. How did this happen? How did we come to this?
And now, just over two weeks later, I would like to say: I am sorry, Jay Bruce. I am really, really sorry.
Last night, Bruce provided the Mets’ entire offense for the night, ripping two home runs on to the netting of the Honda Clubhouse which accounted for all of the Mets’ five runs in their 5-4 victory last night over the Phillies. Bruce’s first homer came in the fifth inning. With the Mets down 2-0, showing no signs of life on offense again, and fans booking their flights Panic City, Bruce promptly jolted the team back to life with a three-run shot to put them up 3-2. Then in the eighth inning, after Philadelphia had tied the game up, Bruce saved the day once more, blasting a two-run homer to put the Mets in front to stay.
The homers were Bruce’s fifth and sixth of the young season. He also hit a double in the first inning that could have scored a run, if Yoenis Cespedes were an eyelash faster. The 30-year-old is now hitting .309/.387/.673 with a 189 wRC+ through his first 62 PAs of the season.
Alright, I’ll admit it: I was wrong. It is a great thing that Jay Bruce is on the Mets in 2017. I was wrong because I am bad and dumb, and Jay Bruce is good and smart. Jay Bruce is better than I am. Jay Bruce is more rich and succesful than I am. Jay Bruce is more handsome than I am. Jay Bruce is a better cook than I am. I don’t dance, but even if I did, Jay Bruce would be a better dancer than I would be. Jay Bruce can parallel park better than I can. Jay Bruce can probably beat Raining Blood on Guitar Hero, and I cannot.
Through 15 games, Jay Bruce has shut me up. But 15 games is, well, only 15 games. There’s almost no chance he keeps up that MVP-level of production. And it’s worth noting that he has gotten off to great starts in recent years, only to fall off dramatically in second halves. So the onus is now on him to prove this year is different, and that this is not an early-season flash in the pan like Rod Barajas or John Buck. The early production is great, but now he needs to maintain a high level of production all year. Dilson Herrera was not traded for three weeks of April production.
It would also be beneficial if the Mets offense around Bruce didn’t make it so they have to rely entirely on him. The bats outside of Bruce were once again silent. The Mets mustered just five non-Bruce hits, all of which were singles scattered throughout the game. Obviously the offense won’t be as bad as they’ve been the last few games all year, but, as we saw from the same group of hitters last year, they can be prone to these types of dry-spells. A homer-centric team will struggle to score runs on nights where the ball doesn’t travel or the homers simply aren’t coming. It’s a concerning trend for a team whose offense has lagged behind its pitching for a few seasons now.
And as for that pitching last night, Robert Gsellman looked the best he has this year, tossing seven-plus innings of three-run ball while allowing six hits, one walk, and striking out seven. However, like his previous start, Gsellman’s line needs an asterisk, as that third earned run he gave up was given up after he left the game. He allowed a double to the first batter of the eighth inning and was removed for Jerry Blevins, and that runner later scored on a bloop single to left field that fell just in front of Cespedes. Hansel Robles, who miraculously still has a right arm, worked in yet another game—his 10th(!) of the season—to get out of the inning.
Addison Reed came on in what was ostensibly his last game as a closer before Jeurys Familia is activated from his suspension today, and allowed a triple to Freddy Galvis, who later scored on a sac fly. But Reed shut the door, punching out two in the inning and earning his fourth save of the season.
A PYRRHIC VICTORY
The Mets’ first win in their last five tries did not come without a cost. First, Lucas Duda left the game with a hyper-extended elbow. He suffered it on a play at first base in the fifth inning, where he was trying to catch a throw from Gsellman that was angling into the runner Cesar Hernandez at first, and Hernandez collided with Duda’s arm and bent it backward. It seems like it could be a minor inury, but it is very likely the Good first baseman will be placed on the 10-day DL for at least the minimum time. In his absence, Wilmer Flores could get some extra playing time, or they could move Bruce to first base and let Conforto play every day in the outfield. They should really do the latter.
Not much later, Travis d’Arnaud also exited the game a few innings after getting hit in the hand by Aaron Altherr’s bat on the backswing while trying to throw out Hernandez stealing second base. It was announced he has a right wrist contusion. His prognosis is unknown.
OTHER NEWS OF THE DAY
The Mets are considering putting David Wright on the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster for Jeurys Familia, according to Ken Rosenthal. Wright has not played this season with a shoulder impingement suffered in early March, but is beginning to do baseball activity again. He fielded grounders yesterday, but did not throw. Sandy Alderson said there is no timetable for the captain’s return.
The Mets look to take the rubber game of the series against the Phillies behind their ace, Noah Syndergaard. The Phillies will send out Aaron Nola in what figures to be a great pitcher’s duel. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports