Archive for the 'Jay Bruce' Category

Bruce Saves the Day

Just where would the Mets be without Jay Bruce?  This was the player the Mets were trying to trade all winter long.  I guess the front office just can’t get enough of Curtis Granderson who takes two months or more every season to get going.  I mean if you are going to move an outfielder, you’d pick Bruce over the popular Grandy?  Why would you do that with Bruce’s track record?

Bruce’s two laser beam shots to right field accounted for all five of the Mets runs. And they needed all five as the Phillies scratched out four and again the bullpen was unable to protect a slim lead for a starter that did yeoman’s work.

Last night it was Robert Gsellman who turned in a much improved performance over his first two starts of the season.  After leaving the game with the Mets ahead by a score of 3-2, Jerry Blevins gave up the tying run.  Now to be fair, the hit given up by Blevins was a bloop popup that Yoenis Cespedes made a valiant effort to grab in no-man’s land.

Much like last season, the Mets rely on the homerun.  That’s always problematic when Mets hitters are slumping and not hitting the long ball.  The Mets are not a station to station team.  Although last night Asdrubal Cabrera singled then Cespedes worked out a walk before Bruce erased the 2-0 deficit with his first mash to right.  Terry Collins actually allowed Gsellman to start the eighth inning.  Good for him, that’s what he should have done.  Unfortunately Gsellman paid his manager back by allowing Aaron Altherr to hit a ground rule double, immediately putting the lead in jeopardy.  Blevins came in and got two outs before the dunker that tied it up.   But Gsellman deserved to start the eighth and had Jacob deGrom been given the opportunity to start the eighth inning last Saturday night in Miami, maybe that game has a different outcome.

I’m glad the Mets won but I’m not getting all giddy.  Without Bruce, the Mets lose their fifth in a row.  And two often injured players are injured again.  Lucas Duda left the game with a hyperextended left elbow and Travis d’Arnaud had to sit early when he bashed his hand against Odubel Herrera’s bat on an attempted pickoff throw.  Are you shocked?  I’m not.  These two are the DL poster boys in recent seasons.

If the Mets take winning serious, they need to do two things right now.  Put Wilmer Flores at third every day and sit Jose Reyes.  Put Michael Conforto in center and sit Granderson.  Let’s do this for five games in a row regardless of who’s pitching and let’s see what happens.  A lineup of Conforto, Cabrera, Cespedes, Bruce, Walker, Duda, Flores, and d’Arnaud would produce better than the current lineup that includes Granderson and Reyes.  If Duda and d’Arnaud need a stay on the DL then of course, that throws a monkey wrench into the cogs.  Maybe Bruce gets a shot at first with Conforto going to center.  But I would put Juan Lagares in Center, not Granderson.

It’s interesting that the Mets, 8-7, are in good company.  There are thirteen teams in the Major Leagues that are at .500 or a game over or under.  The best record so far is Baltimore at 9-4 with the worse being Toronto’s dreadful 3-11 mark.  Its early folks and a lot can change.  I would hope though that the Mets don’t wait too long and let this season get out of control.  They are already trailing Washington who looks like they are going to pick it up right where they left off last season.  And after the Phillies leave tonight, guess who’s coming for the weekend?

Frustration Following Big Trade

I’m sure Jay Bruce will enhance the Mets lineup. But last night’s excruciating loss could not be blamed on the offense even with Bruce yet to arrive. For one evening, the offense led by Matt Reynolds put the Mets in position to win late in the game. His three run bomb into the left center field stands gave the Mets a 5-3 lead. Going into the late innings with the Mets bullpen protecting a lead usually ends with a happy recap but not last night.

Of all nights for Addison Reed to give up any runs, he sure picked a bad one. He had not given up a run since late June.

Oh those bases on balls.

Culprit number one was Jerry Blevins. The lefty brought in to face a couple of lefties simply cannot walk the first batter. It’s a baseball mortal sin. Reed came in after Blevins struck out Jacob Ellsbury.  Reed struck out Mark Teixeira. With two outs, not too many thought Reed would have any difficulty getting through the inning with no damage done. But Brian McCann singled then Didi Gregorius fought off slider after slider until he punched a high changeup into left field, driving in two to tie the game. Right there you knew the Mets just turned a victory into a defeat.

Seth Lugo, like Blevins, also walked the first batter he faced in the 10th. You knew that run would score and of course it did.  The Mets poised for a dramatic comeback in the bottom of the 10th failed to do so. James Loney doubled and moved to third on a sacrifice. Rene Rivera grounded back to the mound and Curtis Granderson struck out. Just a painful loss to watch, especially on the day the Mets acquired Jay Bruce. The loss was made more painful because it was at the hands of the Yankees.

Last season at the trade deadline the Mets won their game in a euphoric atmosphere, also in extra innings. They knew Yoenis Cespedes was coming and that changed everything. Knowing Jay Bruce is coming may have inspired Reynolds but it did not change the fortunes of the bullpen. On a rare evening, the pen could not hold the line and the Mets lost an opportunity to pick up a game against the second wild card Marlins who lost to the Cubs.

There are only 57 games left this season for the Mets. Realistically the Mets need to win the majority of those games to make the post season. If the Washington Nationals go .500 the rest of the way, they will win 89 games for the season. Most likely the Nats will win more than that, at least in the low 90s. For the Mets to win 90 games, they will need to go 36-19. That’s 17 games over .500. Does the addition of Bruce and Niese make you think the Mets can win at that clip when the most they have been above .500 all season has been nine games? I doubt it. And even if they did, it would not be enough wins to take the division unless the Nats completely collapse. The Mets best bet is to shoot for the wild card.

The Dodgers will win around 87-88 games if they go .500 the rest of the way. For the Mets to reach that number of wins, they must win 34 of the next 57 games. That’s a record of 34 and 23, 11 games over .500. We are asking them to go 11 over for the final 57. Can Bruce make an 11 game swing happen?  Possibly but it’s going to be tough. He certainly can’t do it alone. Granderson, d’Arnaud, Conforto, and Walker all must step up their game. If they continue to hit so poorly with runners in scoring position, it won’t matter that Bruce is aboard and the Mets would have traded away part of their future for nothing.

Jon Niese? Really?

The Mets couldn’t have done better than this? Well the bright side of this trade is it didn’t cost them any prospects, just another struggling left handed pitcher. So the Mets traded a struggling pitcher for a familiar struggling pitcher . Perhaps out of the bullpen Niese will have some success as he did during last year’s post season.

And as for the Yanks…

It was the 61st time the Yankees have defeated the Mets in the regular season (Mets have won 44 times). It’s the 30th time that the Yankees have beaten the Mets at home, the 13th time at Citi Field. It was also the fourth time the Yanks won an extra inning game against the Mets and the 14th one run loss. Regardless of the era, the Yanks own the Mets.

Subway Series History and Trade Deadline

The Mets have played 104 games that count against the cross town rival Yankees. The Mets have won 44 while the Yanks have won 60. The Yankees swept the Mets once in 2003 (six games) and the Mets have swept the Bombers once in 2013 (four games). Last season, in a year where the Mets went to the World Series and the Yankees made the playoffs as the second wild card, the Mets lost the season series two games to four.

This season, the Mets are four games over .500 entering the subway home and home series and the Yanks are at the .500 mark. Both New York clubs had miserable weekends. The Yanks were swept in a three game set at Tampa Bay while the Mets were able to salvage the final game of a four game set against Colorado at Citi Field thanks to Neil Walker. It’s safe to say that both clubs are struggling.

The Mets have experienced a rash of injuries this season having lost Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera to the disabled list this weekend. Add them to the list that already includes David Wright, Matt Harvey, and Juan Lagares who have been lost for the season. Then there’s Lucas Duda still out and unclear when he will be coming back. Reliever Jim Henderson is also still on the DL with Zach Wheeler still hoping to make a 2016 appearance.

The Yanks on the other hand are suffering from an aging roster after countless years of success. In the last week, they have traded two of their star relievers and have stock piled some outstanding prospects. The Yanks now have seven of the top 100 prospects in their system as they tool their club to be great again in the not too distant future.

The Mets, although looking very vulnerable of late, are still in a slightly better position playoff wise. They are 6.5 games back of the Nationals for the division lead and 2.5 games back of the Marlins for the second wild card spot. The Yankees meanwhile are 7 games back of division leading Baltimore and 5.5 games back of wild card two Boston.

Performance wise, the difference between the two New York clubs really comes down to the month of April. In that month, the Mets went 15-7 while the Yankees went 8-14. Since that time, the Mets have struggled to a 39-43 mark as injuries mounted and the Mets offense sputtered horrendously. Meanwhile the Yanks have gone 46-38. There is no question the Yankees have played better than the Mets since May 1st. But the Mets head into the subway series with a better record than the Yankees at 54-50 to 52-52 respectively. It’s only the sixth time in twenty seasons of interleague play that the Mets have a better record than the Yankees on the eve of their first meeting of the season. Here’s a history of the other times when the Mets were better than the Yanks prior to the subway series.

The first time was in 2005. The Mets were 22-19 heading into the subway series with the Yankees at 21-20. The Mets and Yanks split the six games that season, Mike Piazza’s last with the Mets. The next season, in 2006, the Mets had one more win than the Yanks but the same amount of losses with a 24-16 record vs. a 23-16 record.  Also that season, the Mets went further in the post season than the Yanks for the first time when both teams made the playoffs. (Of course both clubs made it to the last game of 2000). The largest disparity in the Mets favor occurred in 2007. On the eve of that subway series’ first meeting of the season, the Mets were 26-14 and in first place while the Yankees were struggling at 18-21 in second place trailing the Red Sox. The following season, the Mets were a game over .500 at 20-19 with the Yankees two games under at 20-22.

Since the new New York baseball stadiums era began, the Mets had virtually the same record in 2012, (32-26 vs. 31-25). Last season, the Mets had won eleven in a row with a 13-3 record prior to meeting the Yankees for the first time. So there you have it. The Mets were better than the Yankees just five times in the twenty seasons that interleague play has occurred before tonight’s contest.

Interestingly, in 1997 the Mets were 36-30 and the Yankees were 37-29 on the eve of the very first Mets-Yankees subway series. After Dave Mlicki pitched a complete game shutout in that historic first game, both New York teams had identical records of 37-30. Mets equality was short lived however as the Yanks took the next two, winning the series. Back then, the two rivalries met only once during the season.

The home and home series is something relatively new since interleague play began. It started in 2013 and only happens when the Mets do not play American League East teams. When they do, the Mets and Yanks go back to the traditional three game series in each park. This season, it starts in Citi Field for two then moves over to Yankee Stadium II on Wednesday for games three and four.

What makes this subway series unique is that it starts on the day of the non-waiver trade deadline. That’s never happened before. As stated, the Yanks have already sold off while the Mets are still looking to do something to bolster their dreadful offense.

I long for the day when the Mets are clearly New York’s team. But with the disappointing season they have had and with the Yankees playing better and having made a great haul of prospects, I’m skeptical we’ll ever see it happen.

I certainly hope the Mets do not mortgage their future today. So many things have gone wrong in terms of injury and less than normal performance, it may be fruitless to try and repair a team that really just needs a winter to get healthy and regroup.  Many of these Mets are still very young. It would be easy to give up on them considering the microscope of New York. But doing so could prove to be costly in the long term.

It’s interesting that Yankee general manager has taken a page out of Sandy Alderson’s book in that he has sold off a couple of stars for very good prospects. I would hate to see the Mets give up on the philosophy they have embraced. Sometimes a season just doesn’t work out the way it was planned. The Mets have had a lot of bad luck this year. I say make a tweak move or two and let the chips fall where they might. I simply don’t want to see the Mets head into years of uncertainty yet again because they failed to be patient and unnecessarily moved key prospects.

Update:  The Mets traded Dilson Herrera and a minor league pitcher for Jay Bruce. I’m glad they got Bruce but I am extremely disappointed they had to deal Herrera. You never know how a prospect is going to turn out however all we have heard is that Herrera would be a future all star. In Bruce, the Mets have a great power hitter and everyone knows they needed one. With all the injuries the Mets have suffered this season, the only real shot to make the post season was to make a deal like this. The Mets can control him through next season. Meanwhile the Mets outfield is like a Sudoku puzzle.

Who plays where?

Nimmo who was originally headed for Cincinnati but remains because the deal had to get reworked because of somebodies medical reports, will likely get sent back to AAA until September 1st. Does Conforto play center or does Granderson? Should be interesting.

In other moves, the Mets brought back Jonathan Niese. This one boggles my mind and with letting their future second baseman go makes me wonder if the Mets really don’t know what they are doing again. Hopefully they do and hopefully they turn things around and begin a run like they did a year ago. But we’ll see. Seldom does it happen that what occurred in one season happens again in the following.