What a difference a year makes. Last August 1 the Mets had just acquired one of the best hitters in the game, had seen a long-time organizational player shed tears over the prospect of leaving and most importantly, were in the process of sweeping a moribund divisional leader, propelling themselves (and us) into a memorable and long post season run that would last all the way to November 1.
Let me count the ways I hate the Jay Bruce trade. First there’s Bruce the player. He doesn’t really do much well. He’s slow, he has occasional power, he strikes out too much, doesn’t get on base enough and is a bad fielder. Some of his inflated offensive stats can be attributed to playing in the Great American Ballpark. In his defense, he is having a pretty good year so far. The Mets have been historically bad this season with RISP, so perhaps he helps.
Then there’s the trade itself. The Mets acquired Bruce for second baseman Dilson Herrera. As recently as last winter, the Mets were calling Herrera the second baseman of the future, which apparently justified letting the 2016 NL batting champ Daniel Murphy go. What made them change their minds and trade Murphy’s heir apparent for a player who doesn’t hit as well as Murphy? Long-time readers of this blog will no doubt recall the distain heaped on the Mets Front Office prior to the incredible hot streak they went on in late July. This type of shenanigans certainly recalls some of the bad old days of Met Front Office follies–short sided player moves, shoehorning square pegs into round holes and dealing under (while entirely denying) financial restraints.
Speaking of financial restraints, there is also a grim foreboding about next year baked somewhere in this move. Does the arrival of Bruce signal the eventual departure of Yoenis Cespedes? Bruce has another year on his deal, Cespedes can opt out this winter. I shudder to think of an outfield next year of Bruce in right, the suddenly unreliable Michael Conforto in left and the depleted Curtis Granderson in center. It could happen.
The Mets also brought back Jon Niese from Pittsburgh in a trade for Antonio Bastardo. One of the best names in Met history, Bastardo just never clicked here. I wonder what kind of reception Niese is getting in the clubhouse after he made a few pointed comments about his teammates on his way out last December.
Finally, the Mets lost to the Yankees (of all teams) in 10 innings last night 6-5. Channeling his inner Wilmer Flores, AAAA player Matt Reynolds hammered a three run homer off the entirely ineffective CC Sabathia, giving the Mets a brief lead that the otherwise reliable Addison Reed coughed up two innings later. The Mets dynamic bullpen duo of Reed and Jeurys Familia suddenly look very vulnerable.
And that is probably the most foreboding sign of them all.