Congratulations, reader!

Jay Bruce

We know you’ve thought it.

Heck, you may have even said it — in a, “We all know I don’t really mean it,” sort of way, with maybe just a hint of, “Or do I?”

Well, the time for humility has passed. Go ahead. Say it loudly and wholeheartedly:

“I’d make a better Mets GM than this guy!”

Right at this moment, it’s true. “This guy” is Sandy Alderson, and the media just informed us that he spent a significant portion of the Mets’ remaining player budget on a player who:

  • Is at an age where players generally stay the same or get worse.
  • Has never gotten on base much.
  • Has always struck out a ton.
  • Has always been a streaky hitter.
  • Has spent most of the past half-decade as a poor defensive right fielder.
  • Has just started learning how to play first base, so isn’t adept there either.
  • Has generally been an easy out against left-handed pitchers.
  • Is slow, a negative on the bases.
  • Hits a lot of fly balls, a good number of which leave the park given favorable conditions.

There is exactly one situation in which you sign such a player to a three-year deal for $13M per year:

  • All the comparable player options — who, given how MLB currently values the above skill set, could have been had on one-year deals or for less money — are already gone.
  • You don’t need to save money for other needs.
  • You’re currently looking at an absolute black hole in right field or first base.

How many of these required conditions are true for the Mets? Zero.

I enjoy rooting for Jay Bruce. He seems like a nice guy and a hard worker. But with a limited budget, no second baseman, a shallow bullpen, and only two reliable starting pitchers on the roster, he is possibly the worst investment I can imagine for this team at this moment.

So pat yourselves on the backs, all you Mets fans who think you’d be a better GM than the guy we’ve actually got! Right now, you’re officially correct.

David Berg has been following the Mets since 1990, and counts himself as a "die hard fan" -- the agonies have been numerous and arduous, but he's still watching every game he can, determined to "earn" the satisfaction when the Mets eventually win it all. In his non-spare time, David is a designer of graphics, web sites, and games. See his work at Shrike Design
  1. David Berg January 11, 2018 at 12:11 am
    Potential plus: Perhaps Bruce’s character and clubhouse leadership will make a big difference on a team with a rookie manager and some young players in key roles.

    Potential minus: If MLB reacts to all the juiced ball complaints and stitches the balls the way they did in 2014, then fewer of Bruce’s deep flies will clear the fences, leaving him completely useless.

    Potential plus: Bruce can man RF while Conforto heals, and he gives the Mets a 1B option in case Smith isn’t ready.

    Potential minus: Once Smith and Conforto are ready, all the options are bad. Either Smith stagnates in Vegas where breaking balls don’t break and hitters don’t learn, or Bruce pushes Conforto to CF, weakening the Mets defensively at both CF and RF.

    Supposing the Mets deploy him optimally, $13M for 2018 isn’t an overpayment for Bruce. (Though that money was still better spent elsewhere.) It’s the two extra years that really make this awful. The only ways Bruce is a boon to the 2019-2020 Mets are injuries or vast underperformance from Conforto, Cespedes, and Smith — and that either means no near-term playoffs, or no head start on the future.

    If Alderson moves Smith tomorrow in a deal that was already agreed to before the Bruce signing, then I’ll take some of this back. Only if Smith brings back something good, though.

  2. Dan B January 13, 2018 at 1:23 pm
    If Smith is the real deal and Conforto returns to all star potential, Bruce could be traded. His contact most likely won’t be that restrictive. Though the chances of getting something significant is slim. The saddest part of the signing is that at best, it returns the Mets to where they were at the beginning of 2017. Just once I would like the Mets to replace players with someone better than what they had. It’s either resign ex-Mets or hope that a rookie steps up.
    • argonbunnies January 14, 2018 at 2:43 am
      The Mets couldn’t find takers for Bruce in 2016-2017 and mid-2017 when he was owed the same annual salary and less money total. $39M isn’t huge in today’s game… but it is still clearly more than Bruce is worth to anyone other than the Mets.

      Sure, anyone can be traded, but the Mets will have to basically dump him if they do. Maybe they’ll get back an old AA reliever like in Sandy’s 2017 deals.

  3. Dan Capwell January 14, 2018 at 1:45 pm
    Funny, but I don’t hate this signing (nor the A-Gon one either). The big reason is that no one knows for sure when Conforto will be ready again. Yeah, we’re hearing early May, but that sounds like wishful thinking to me.

    The Mets still have a chance to contend in 2018, IF the pitching staff stays healthy. They will need some kind of protection for Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup. Bruce provides that. He’s a good, but not great player who lengthens the Mets lineup. An OD outfield alignment of Ces-Lagares-Bruce isn’t terrible.

    Gonzales provides the Mets with a lefty alternative to Wilmer Flores at 1B. I am fairly confident that Dom Smith will start the year in AAA. He can be “A-Gone” relatively quickly if his demise proves permanent and Smith gets the seasoning he needs in Vegas.

    I am anticipating two more signings by the Mets. One is Jose Reyes to play second. No one else wants Jose, so they should be able to get him on the cheap. The other will be lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist (better than 1K per IP).

    • argonbunnies January 14, 2018 at 7:24 pm
      Hey, having a guy to help stabilize the lineup while Conforto rounds into shape is great! The stupid part is paying $39M for that.

      As for the Mets having a chance to contend if the pitching staff stays healthy, which pitching staff are you referring to? The one we don’t have yet because we spent the money to acquire our #3 / #4 starter on Bruce instead?

      The idea that the 2015 playoff rotation is ever coming back needs to die. Harvey and Matz are farther from being #2 starters than the “no pitching” Phillies’ Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez.

  4. DaveSchneck January 15, 2018 at 12:06 am
    All solid points, for sure, and as AB points out, and some concern that the Mets seem to value Bruce significantly above everyone else in MLB. But, over the last several days the move has somewhat grown on me.

    To look at the plus side, while they may have gotten Bruce for less, this obligation should not hamstring them going forward. A big Moustakas or Arrieta deal gone sour would be much more of a problem. In fairness, the Conforto and Wright situations and implications to roster and money would hamper almost every team. Bruce brings some needed stability even though he isn’t a perfect fit. If Bruce’s return is one piece of 4 or 5 this winter, the offseason may still be considered a success. Judgment of this signing is very dependent on the other moves they make before opening day.

  5. Vilos January 29, 2018 at 8:10 am
    The way I see it is, having five competent outfielders is a positive. I get the feeling, that days off to rest will be better used in the coming years, along with matchups depending on pitchers.
  6. argonbunnies January 30, 2018 at 12:20 am
    Having good back-ups is great! Just don’t expect them to hit the way they would if they were playing every day. Hitters need regular reps to stay sharp, and even more reps to develop. I don’t know if Lagares and Nimmo will still count as competent if they’re getting 5 ABs per week.

    I hope you’re right about a more even share of playing time, but I don’t know. Do you really see any manager giving Cespedes regular days off, pulling him from games, or using Nimmo to pinch hit for him?

    I’m not saying Bruce definitely doesn’t improve the outfield at all… I just don’t think he definitely improves it either. If I had to bet, I’d bet that, overall, he improves it a little. Either way, he’s a terrible use of roughly 1/3 of the Mets’ offseason budget. Once Wheeler’s back out there walking guys and Matz is grabbing his elbow, we’re all going to wish that money had been spent on a starter.

    The bullpen also just got thinner, with Chasen Bradford let go to make roster space, and then scooped up by the Mariners. Bradford wasn’t a lock for the 2018 ‘pen, but he had at least a shot to be the 5th best option out there, with his groundball skills particularly valuable against today’s homerun-focused hitters.

  7. Vilos January 30, 2018 at 11:54 pm
    Your probably right about the need to play every day in order to keep a sharp eye.
    But the season is long, and it only seems natural to give players more rest.
    Maybe the next “thing” is rest and proper use.
    I get the feeling the new manager is saying all the right words. Let’s see if he executes