To paraphrase David Letterman, “They are not booing, they are saying Bruce!”
Yes, maybe that’s the one silver lining for Jay Bruce. The Mets fans are able to drown him with vile and hate and the rightfielder is able to block it out, because it sounds like his name.
Call him a bust and hope he gets shipped out at the end of the season. Add Bruce to the list of a long line of outfield failures for the Mets: Derek Bell, and Richard Hidalgo back in the early 2000s and more recently, Jason Bay and Michael Cuddyer.
Bruce has done nothing since he came to the Mets. A leader in RBI and up there with homers when he came here, the outfielder has been nothing short of terrible hitting .176 with four homers and 11 RBI since here arrived here. Those are numbers you expect from a 4-A player like Eric Campbell or Ty Kelly, and not an accomplished player like Bruce.
So yeah, he’s the new Citi whipping boy and it’s not a nice place to be.
“It’s very difficult,” Bruce said. “I didn’t draw it up like this. It’s been tough for me. Fortunately, the team has been winning games.”
There’s nothing wrong with Met fans booing Bruce. He owes them nothing and he represents nothing but failure since he arrived here. He’s an easy target too. So much so that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may be blaming the trade on each other to go higher in the polls.
He’s that easy of a target right now, especially after the Mets lose winnable games like tonight’s 5-4 loss to the Braves.
Bruce is a decent guy, though, much like Cuddyer and much like Bay. That makes his slump harder to take at times. He’s a pro too and takes his benchings like a man.
“I know how the game is played,” Bruce said. “I don’t need any explanation from the manager. He’s the manager.”
Terry Collins knows that, which makes dealing with Bruce very difficult. “It’s one of the worst things you can do as a manager, pinch hit for a star,” he said, “especially one of the elite power hitters in the game.”’
When he was pinch hit in the eighth, Bruce understood why Collins did it, although, “no one wanted to be pinch hit for.”
Now, Collins job becomes tougher, because with 11 games left in this season, Collins needs to put Bruce on the bench and play his play his other outfielders. Play Alejandro De Aza, Michael Conforto, or Brandon Nimmo. Any of them would be better than that black hole in the middle of the lineup.
It’s unfortunate because Bruce has been a rally killer, who was supposed to be the straw that stirred the drink and made the Mets offense go.
But instead of Reggie Jackson, the Mets got LaToya Jackson.
The way things are going, this looks like the race will go down to the wire with Mets, Giants or Cardinals standing on the outside looking in. Collins needs to manage like every game could be his last in the majors.
“I’m worried about the team and I’m worried about winning games,” Bruce said. “I’m not worried about myself.”
Neither should Collins. Bruce needs to sit and it’s time to play someone else.
Otherwise everyone may be resting come October.
And Bruce will be the punchline.