When the Mets acquired three-time All-Star Jay Bruce, at the trade deadline, the goal was to add much-needed offense to the lineup and help re-ignite any hopes of reaching the playoffs.
Someone needs to get the memo over to Bruce because, so far, has yet to hold up his end.
It seemed like a no-brainer for general manager Sandy Alderson to make the trade for Bruce, even if it meant giving up second base prospect Dilson Herrera to the Cincinnati Reds. Bruce was supposed to be this summer’s secret sauce for the Mets, a team ravaged by injuries to their key players throughout the season.
A month later, the Mets are somewhat healthier than they were at the time of Bruce’s arrival. Somewhat.
The Mets are also still very much in the National League Wild Card playoff race.
Yoenis Cespedes, last summer’s secret sauce addition, is back but clearly not at 100 percent. His injured right quadriceps won’t cooperate every day, at least not until after the season.
When Cespedes can’t give more than his quad will allow, the Mets are counting on Bruce to help shoulder some of the load which come with hitting in the middle of a lineup. Only that just hasn’t been the case yet.
On a day where Cespedes, along with Neil Walker and his bad back, were out of the lineup resting, the Mets turned to Bruce to pick-up his teammates with some offense.
The result was an all-too familiar one for the Mets this season, a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.
It also didn’t help matters when shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera aggravated his worrisome knee while legging out a bunt single in the first inning. Cabrera left the game shortly after and will be evaluated.
Bruce singled in his first at-bat, a sharply hit ball to right field. It was downhill, however, from there. He struck out his next three at-bats and the boos rained down on him.
At this rate, Bruce is looking more like Kryptonite than secret sauce for the Mets’ lineup. He’s clearly pressing to do well in front of the home crowd and Mets’ manager Terry Collins knows it.
“Is he uncomfortable? Probably,” said Collins after the game. “Uncomfortable surroundings, playing in a new ballpark, a lot. We all know it’s not Cincinnati. He wants to help so much I think he’s just adding a little extra heat on himself.”
“We got him for a reason and we got to somehow get him to settle in and do some damage for us because that’s a big spot,” Collins continued. “When you don’t have Ces and there’s spots, and you need some production, and he’s in one of those spots.”
The Mets will need Bruce to come alive in September. There’s a big four-game series coming up against the Miami Marlins, and the Washington Nationals come in after that. There’s simply no longer time for Bruce to adjust, it’s time to start producing.
As important as Cespedes, Walker, and Cabrera are to the lineup the Mets could be that much better with Bruce producing in the middle of the order.
It’s time for Bruce to stop pressing, relax, and start getting some hits.