Bruce Trade Leaves Mets’ Fans Puzzled; Whata AA Game at Whataburger Park

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, August 10.

I can’t be the only one scratching his head this morning having heard of the news from Flushing.  The Mets sent Jay Bruce to the Indians for somebody named Ryder Ryan, who was 3-4 with an ERA approaching 5 in Low A ball for the Indians.   HUH?

I heard about the trade from my brother-in-law since it didn’t make MLB’s latest news wire when I was looking for column material today.  One of the grandkids was around and wondered why Bruce would be traded.  I remembered how poorly he did at the end of last season and told the child he hadn’t done well with the Mets.  But my brother-in-law surprised me, telling me Bruce had 29 home runs and 75  RBIs at the time of the trade.  That left me puzzled.  Getting rid of Addison Reed made sense-he wasn’t really a closer and was filling space for Jeurys Familia if he should recover from shoulder surgery.  Meantime the Mets had acquired A.J. Ramos from the Marlins who could close as well as Reed does in the meantime.  But this one leaves me confused.  The Mets can’t count on Yoenis Cespedes to bust his hump or even to stay healthy now that he has a guaranteed contract. Curtis Granderson is clearly near the end, a lot closer to the end than Bruce.  Michael Conforto is solid and (hopefully) untouchable. Even with Bruce, the Mets could easily have called up first baseman Dominic Smith.  They unloaded first baseman Lucas Duda to make that happen. So this seems an unnecessary and perhaps even a stupid move by an organization that has already gotten rid of Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy who have flourished after leaving Flushing.  I’ve called the Mets’ players “a pack of quitters” quite openly but I didn’t think their management was drinking the same KoolAid as the players were.  Now, even if Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey return from their assorted injuries in 2018, and if Steven Matz recovers from whatever is troubling him, the pitchers will be short of bats behind them. Juan Lagares, now on rehab in AA lacks a major-league bat and has never proven otherwise.  Wilmer Flores is an inconsistent bat and certainly nobody’s outfielder.

One factor that may have entered into the trade was the injury to Indians’ left fielder Michael Brantley.  The problem with that is, why should the Mets care if the Indians need a bat to replace Brantley, and if they offer one they have to get a higher price than a pitcher who may never get past the South Atlantic League. The principle is old-if something is scarce, the price for it has to go up.  Why do gas stations charge $6 or more a gallon in areas where recent hurricanes make gas next to impossible to get?  Why is it so expensive to rent a car in a city where a major event-say the Super Bowl-is happening?  The Mets should have gone with that principle and demanded a major leaguer at the very least for a hitter who may have a few good years left in him.

The younger players again provided last night’s most compelling game.  From the Texas League comes a story that would be the morning headline if it happened in the big leagues. The home standing Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros) who were down 7-4 in the last of the 9th against the Tulsa Drillers (Dodgers) scored 6 in the last of the 9th for a 10-7 win.  To win the game was one thing.  But the way it was won, with a walk-off grand slam by Jason Martin is the storyline all the commentators would play if this happened in the bigs. As it was, a crowd of 4200 saw Martin’s heroics at Corpus Christi’s Whataburger Field. Martin had 3 hits in 5 tries on the night. Ryne Burke singled to start the 9th at which point Tulsa turned to their closer Shea Spitzbarth. I couldn’t make up that name if I tried. With two out and two strikes on him Martin unleashed his 10th home run of the year, this one a

game-winning four-run four-bagger. The game had been even at 4 until the top of the 8th when Tulsa’s Garrett Kennedy slammed a 3-run triple. With that shot it looked like Tulsa would win their 13th in 16 games as they do their impression of their parent club the Dodgers. The unfortunate Spitzbarth hadn’t allowed a run in 10 outings until last night’s meltdown.

A pair of Thursday afternoon games stand out on today’s schedule.  The earliest one begins at 12:35 when the Padres meet the Reds in Cincinnati. The Padres hope Dinelson Lamet will pitch his 4th consecutive excellent start, and considering his foes are the Reds I like his chances. The Reds start their promising rookie Luis Castillo who hasn’t pitched as well in his first year as Lamet has. The Pirates and Tigers meet at 1:10 PM in Detroit. The rest of the action is under the lights. The Mets’ Jacob DeGrom has never lost against the Phillies.  He faces Vince Velasquez tonight in Philadelphia. The Yankees have split the first two games with the woeful Blue Jays after splitting 4 in Cleveland. The Bronx Bombers won with the bats last night. Masahiro Tanaka couldn’t survive 5 innings though the team had a big lead, so add him to the Joe Ross list.  The Yanks go with Sonny Gray against the Jays’ Marco Estrada.  Gray lost one of the two games his new team lost against the Indians. The Astros send Brad Peacock to the hill in Chicago.  He’s lived off run support with the team scoring almost 10 runs a game when he’s out there.  That may be difficult for the Astros to pull off against the White Sox’ Carlos Rodon. He struck out 11 men in his last start in Boston. The Twins will start Dietrich Enns in his major league debut as they face the Brewers.  Enns is one of two pitchers the Twins got from the Yankees in the Jaime Garcia deal. He has a tough assignment against a good hitting Brewers’ team.  Their starter Zach Davies has been hot of late, going 7 innings or more in his last 4 starts and given up just 3 earned runs in that stretch. The Dodgers’ Yu Darvish faces the D-Backs’ Anthony Banda, a rookie making his third MLB start. The Orioles face Oakland and the Angels meet the Mariners in a couple of late games. The Mariners’ James Paxton has won his last 7 starts.  No Mariner has won 8 starts in a row-not even Randy Johnson or King Felix Hernandez. So the tall Canadian Paxton has a shot at Mariner history.

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