Let’s call a spade a spade. If you had asked anyone in the Mets front office in December, nobody would have predicted that right fielder Jay Bruce would be on the Mets Opening Day roster this year. Sandy Alderson didn’t hide the fact that he and his staff worked tirelessly to try and trade Bruce and his $13 million contract this past offseason, but this winter’s market conditions were clearly not in the Mets favor.
Be that as it may, Bruce is here for the unforeseeable future and the his bat will be an integral part of what should be a powerful Mets lineup – with or without promising young slugger Michael Conforto.
In an interview with Marc Carig of Newsday, Bruce said that he has not been fazed in the least by all the trade rumors, nor does he buy into all the reports that he is unable to handle the New York spotlight, whether it was coming from the media or the fans.
“First of all, and this is with all due respect to everyone reading this, how the fans think I feel – or how they create to themselves how I feel or how I look – could not have less of an impact on my day-to-day life,” Bruce said.
“Someone the other day was like, ‘Oh, I could see it.’ No, they couldn’t. They assumed. They assumed that because I had a bad stretch, it’s ‘Oh, the market, New York City is too big.’ Oh, like I’m not able to perform under this pressure. Well, they’re lying to themselves.”
“The fact that I was too overwhelmed by New York is the biggest farce I’ve ever seen,” Bruce continued. “It had nothing to do with it. It had absolutely nothing to do with it.”
Bruce, 29. produced a .875 OPS with 22 doubles, six triples, 25 home runs and a league-leading 80 RBI with the Cincinnati Reds in the first 97 games of the 2016 season. However, following his trade to the Mets, his OPS dropped to .685 and he batted just .219 with five doubles, eight home runs and only 19 RBI, and most of that coming in the final seven games of the season.
The three time All-Star understands that the Mets could turnaround and trade him at any point this season, and he could care less if that happens or not. In fact he believes he could be an ex-Met relatively soon.
“I believe that every team, every smart team, should always be looking to improve upon what they have. And if trading me helps you improve your roster, then I say go for it. I don’t care, I really don’t. This is a business.”
“My name’s on the back of this jersey right now, but somebody else is going to be wearing No. 19 for the New York Mets relatively soon. I played in Cincinnati for nine years. But somebody’s going to be wearing No. 32 in Cincinnati very, very soon, if they aren’t already.”
If reports were true, the Mets did have a couple of offers on Bruce, but Alderson was not looking to give him away despite the glut of one-dimensional power hitters on the market. His hope was that a buyer would emerge in spring training, but that never materialized.
With the Mets looking for their third consecutive trip to the postseason, still having Bruce on the roster could prove to be a blessing in disguise. Not only do they have the benefit of his big home run bat to begin the season, but he becomes a nice trade chip once the Mets determine any areas of need as the season wears on.
Also, it was refreshing to hear him defend himself about the pressure of playing in New York. That kind of confidence bodes well for him and the Mets whether we trade him or not. Kudos to Bruce for being so refreshingly honest.