Reese Kaplan -- Jay Bruce Isn't The Worst GM Blunder

Many people are chiming in that the Mets made a mistake picking up Jay Bruce’s $13 million option.  Apparently the “What have you done for me lately?” crowd is having serious agita over being “stuck” with a player who was leading the entire league in RBIs at a time when the Mets were pretty much on the losing end of a game if the opposition pushed more than 3 runs across the plate.

Take a look at what the man delivers in his career – he averages 31 HRs and 94 RBIs in a 162 game period.  Last year he actually exceeded both of those numbers.  He doesn’t hit for much of an average – .248 for his career – but he seems to make the most of the few hits he does get.

By comparison, Curtis Granderson averages 29 Hrs and 79 RBIs with a .255 AVG.  For that he actually earns $2 million more than does Bruce.  He’s 6 years older, no longer runs well and hasn’t thrown well even in his prime.  He does a credible job fielding what he can reach, but most folks think he’s an asset whereas Bruce is a liabilty.

Does anyone remember Granderson’s first year in Queens?  It was nearly Jason Bay ugly.  He finished with just 20 HRs, 66 RBIs and batted .227 over the course of 155 games.  As bad as Jay Bruce was last year, remember he delivered 8 HRs, 19 RBIs and a .219 average over 50 games.  Extrapolate that over 155 games and he would have exceeded the HR totals and finished right about on par with the RBIs and batting average.

These thoughts are not intended to exonerate the shortcomings of Jay Bruce nor to vilify the accomplishments of Curtis Granderson.  Both are similar, flawed players making similar salaries and the Mets are on the hook right now for both for one more year.  Throw in Lucas Duda and you have another all-or-nothing lefty slugger albeit at about half the cost.

No, if you want to play the blame game for this 2016 off-season, picking up Jay Bruce’s option is not the boneheaded play some make it out to be.  That crowning achievement was playing chicken with the injured back of Neil Walker.  Remember that the Nationals gave Daniel Murphy an AAV of just $12.5 million per year for three years.  How did that work out?  The Mets, in their quest for the compensatory draft pick and as a hedge against a Yoenis Cespedes departure, foolishly offered a QO to Walker.  I proclaimed he would be taking it to reestablish his value and then the Mets would be on the hook for 2017 for a $17.2 paycheck to a very good but not spectacular player recovering from back surgery.  Unfortunately I was right.  It accomplished little unless for whatever saving-face reason they choose to lock him up for another 3 years or so.  If he walks away without a QO then they overpaid for a year.  If they extend another QO then they risk repeating the same mistake.

Had they let Walker walk, they would have been saddled with filling that hole with former All Star Jose Reyes, surprising slugger Wilmer Flores, high average hitting T.J. Rivera or even soon-to-be-converted shortstop Gavin Cecchini.  If you want to gripe about the financial constraints on the club’s moves thus far, don’t look to the tepid market for outfielders.  Instead look at how $17.2 million could have been spent to address the catching, leadoff or bullpen issues.

Had they let Jay Bruce walk and not picked up his option then they would have saved $12 million as it would have cost $1 million to buy out the contract.  That still makes the Walker deal $5.2 million more expensive.  Personally, I think that the Mets will eventually move one of Bruce or Granderson for some lower level prospects that may or may not be worth the $1 million they would have paid simply to release Bruce.  Whomever picks up the former Mets outfielder for that bargain basement price will be getting a tremendous deal.  Bravo for them and bravo to the Mets for freeing up payroll.  However, the smarter move would have been to part ways with Neil Walker and address the needs NOW instead of waiting first to unload salaries.


Thomas Brennan said...

I hope Neil Walker makes Sandy look good - but I agree that as of now (which is what any deal before 2017 is) it seems they could have passed on Walker clogging the team's payroll and gotten an Encarnacion or McCutcheon. If Walker's surgery was a long-overdue remedy that returns him for the first time in years to 100%, that would be great - but backs, they is tricky, dawg.

Anonymous said...

Thomas, as I have often said, the "Genius in his own mind" is so smart he often confuses even himself and doesn't know which direction to follow and for how long.

They said "we're going with our young players" then they played Eric Young and the other Young guy. Michael? I think. Only after they both utterly failed did the "Imbecile in the dugout" play Lagares who went on to win a GG.

Now it is Conforto's turn to sit along with Lagares. As I said before, just like you, picking up Walker's option coming out of injury was just plain stupid but a predictable Genius move.

Flores gave the Mets 16 hrs, 55 rbi's in 300+ at bats. Walker gave the Mets a more hrs and rbi's but in 200 more at bats. I think that if Flores is ever and I mean ever given a full year, he can hit around 25 hrs and drive in 80 runs. For almost 16.5M less. I don't mean to say that Flores is a better player than Walker, but the difference between the 2 is not worth over 16M.

Every time you think you have the Mets figured out, they seem to change direction as the rumors indicate regarding now McCuthen. Stupid organization from the owner own down.

Reese Kaplan said...

I second the IITD being one of the primary problems. He's not responsible for the dreck the GM provides him to use, but he is fully responsible for deciding how to use it.

bob gregory said...

Nice to read in the news yesterday, reports that the Mets were acknowledging a need for a starting centerfielder.
Even looking into McCutcheon.

bob gregory said...
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Eddie Corona said...

I am not the biggest Flores fan but your 100% right... Walker is a very goo player but not 16 Million better...
I believe walker will again have a very good season... But its about allocating resources appropriately... 17 million could have been used on the Bullpen + while still being productive at 2b with Reyes Flores TJ and Cecchini getting reps there...

Anonymous said...

Gregory, you can't give up on a young player because of one bad year. You don't win a GG in CF and then become useless the following year. You can't get better or show that you can do better sitting on the bench.

The same applies to Conforto who now is trade bait. A young controllable player and the Mets gave up on him because of one bad year. Why doesn't the good year ever count for these Mets?

The Mets have spend years telling us what the new core will be. Herrera (gone), Rosario who the Pirates will ask for in any trade for McCutchen, Conforto who is now trade bait, d'Arnaud whose stock is way down, Wheeler who has been out for 2 years, etc. Flores who gets no respect what so ever.

Speaking of d'NO, why do these Mets continue to give him chances and not Flores who has outperformed him every year? Conforto who has shown way more promise? TJ who only hits and hits but was given a chance only after everyone else got hurt? Ahhh...that preference of the Imbecile in the dugout for playing veterans. Even if they now stink.

Like I said, the Mets never seem to stay with a plan long enough to implement it before they decide to go on another direction. Well..except for the stupidity which was evident when Nimmo was picked as the first draft pick of the new regime. Hardly any international signings, never bothered with any of the Cuban players that became FA, etc.

By contrast, see what the great Theo Epstein has done for the Cubs in less time. What the Braves are doing, what the RedSox have done. What Brian Cashman is building for the Yankees. Mets? well Sandy the Genius does have a big head but hasn't done much for the Mets lately.


Mack Ade said...

To All -

Hey - Getting my legs back.

I do not consider the Bruce signing a mistake. Yet. The season's opening day is still far off and we have to wait to see what the Mets eventually do with this contract.

Reese Kaplan said...

Nor did I. The question raised, Mack, was whether the QO to Neil Walker was a mistake.

Thomas Brennan said...

Great to hear, Mack.

Viper, great thoughts on the subject.

I do think Flores will be the platoon 1B and then fill in elsewhere to give guys rest. TJ will be there in case of injury. We could have used the saved $16 million (using TJ and WF instead of Walker)to pay the first year of an Aroldis Chapman contract.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Ah. Sorry. I didn't read the whole post and am still operating on fumes.

The Walker signing is a tough call. I wouldn't have done it. I would have put Reyes on second for a year and bring up Rosario and Cecchini in September and have them on paper to join "someone on third" and Dominic Smith on first... but this will never happen under Sandy. Too many rookies.

Anonymous said...

I think the Mets are looking at Tony Watson froom Pitt aswell as McCutchen? If the Trades to ride themselve of Bruce and Granderson happen,thoose prospects will be going to Pitt for Watson and McCutchen

Bill Metsiac said...

When did Conforto become "trade bait"? Time will tell, but Sandy has said many times that the plan is to trade Bruce and/or Grandy, so Michael can be the everyday RFer (or LFer if Yo can move to RF). Where did anyone see otherwise?

bob gregory said...

What you are calling giving up on Lagares I am calling recognizing the very real injury history Lagares has.
Some players are more prone to injury than others.

bob gregory said...
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