I know exactly how Sandy Alderson feels.
For days now I’ve been trying to trade proven veterans that make a good deal of money for lower level minor leaguers that will never amount to anything just to clear salary on the PC simulation game “Out of the Park Baseball 17“. Those who own the game already know the response that I’ve gotten ad nauseum: “I am sorry, but I will not accept trades that includes vastly overpaid veterans.” Over, and over, and over again.
Jay Bruce would qualify as the aforementioned “overpaid veteran”. Now in the simulation world, I probably couldn’t trade him for a one star simulation scrub. Now think about this: In real life, Sandy Alderson wanted two prospects for him. And who can blame him for feeling bulletproof after acquiring Noah Syndergaard for Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas (exaggerated only slightly for dramatic effect.) But with the league on to his sorcery, this saga could only have one ending, and we’re steaming towards it … Sandy calling up Bruce and saying “Uhh, I was wondering if, uhhh, you know, uhhh maybe, uhhh, you’d like to play right field for us this season?” That’s right, the Mets have told Bruce that “they anticipate starting the season with him as their everyday right fielder.” That’s a nice way of saying “we tried like hell to trade you but everybody was all like ‘nah, we’re good.'” Alderson probably would have done well to send Jay Bruce a pizza that spells “Right Field?” in pepperoni.
The Mets did this to themselves by picking up Bruce’s option, but with the uncertainty of Yoenis Cespedes re-signing, who could blame them for covering their butts? Except that now, we have two pounds of bologna in a one pound bag, and most of the bologna can’t play defense. Offensively, I’m not going to pretend that Bruce is going to completely flop as he did last season. I think that spending spring training with this team and not being jolted by a trade in the middle of the season will help him get back to some sort of normalcy. I’d be happy with 25 HR’s and a ..240 average with an OPS at .800 or so, and it’s possible with a full season here. That would be a fine alternative to last season’s two strikeouts for every at-bat.
But this really hurts Michael Conforto, and it will eventually hurt the Mets. And before you poo-poo this as prospect hugging, remember this: The Mets, conceivably, could lose Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda, Jose Reyes, and Asdrubal Cabrera if the Mets buy him out. If all that happens, that leaves the Mets with Yoenis Cespedes, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, and David Wright. That’s a lot of positions taken up by question marks and rookies. Would have been nice if Conforto could have been one of the sure things in 2018. But now, provided the Mets don’t re-sign a couple of this year’s free agents and keep Cabrera, 2018 is going to be really interesting … and more interesting with Michael Conforto being a complete question mark provided he’s not traded for Victor Zambrano. Perhaps it’s silly to worry about ’18 before we’ve gotten through ’17, but general managers get paid good money to think about the future while maintaining the present. And ironically, because Sandy Alderson wanted to hijack too much future in exchange for Bruce, the future now takes a hit because Bruce will be a Met this season.