This is as low as it gets for Jay Bruce.
Mets manager Terry Collins sent Eric Campbell to pinch-hit for Bruce in the eighth inning against Braves reliever Ian Krol last night. The same Campbell that has batted .159 and gone 0-for-14 prior to his pinch-hit appearance.
Collins’ hunch proved to be right as Campbell had a RBI single in the Mets’ 5-4 loss to the Reds.
If that’s not enough, Bruce likely saw the back page of the New York Post dubbing him as “Mr. Mutt”
If last night was the case, one has to wonder how many more opportunities Bruce will get to snap out of his slump. The Mets are in a three-way tie for first place in the wild-card race with the Cardinals and Giants, and there are 11 games remaining for them this season.
Collins has no choice but to find other alternatives from the Mets’ glut of outfielders. There is no more time for sentimentality. There is no more letting Bruce get comfortable anymore. The Mets manager needs to play whoever will help him win games in what is going to be a tight race until the end of the season.
The former Red has had enough chances. He has had 142 at-bats as a Met, and that should be enough for him to get it going. It hasn’t happened for him. He is hitting .176 with four doubles, four home runs and 11 RBI since being traded to the Mets.
If he can’t get going after the last few weeks, he will never get it going.
It has become mental for him now. He is swinging at every pitch. He is making foul outs. His at-bats leave so much to be desired. All he focuses on is hitting home runs.
It has gotten to the point that he expects to fail when he is out there.
Bruce was 0-for-3 last night with two groundouts and a fly out, and not surprisingly, he was booed.
This has been a typical Bruce performance since the day he was acquired. It was one thing to struggle for three weeks in his new surroundings, but we are in September, and he hasn’t figured it out.
There’s no question he is trying. He may be trying too hard to the point it has resulted to nothing.
Still, pro sports are a result-oriented business, especially in this town. Bruce isn’t getting it done. It said something that Collins lost faith in his hitter when he used Campbell as a pinch-hitter.
The Mets manager has done all he could to get Bruce out of his slump. He gave him mental days off. He has encouraged him. He has had private talks with his struggling player.
It hasn’t worked for whatever reason.
To say New York is a tough place for him to play is giving him an excuse. It’s an easy way to justify his struggles. It’s a lazy take.
The truth of the matter is Bruce is a streaky hitter. The Mets knew that going in when they acquired him. If Alderson had his druthers, he wouldn’t have acquired him. But with Cespedes being on the disabled list and Michael Conforto struggling in his first full season, the Mets needed to beef up their offense. They needed someone who can help Cespedes shoulder the load.
They were hoping Bruce would get into a hot streak as he was getting comfortable.
100 at-bats should be enough for him to be comfortable. It hasn’t happened.
One can’t help but wonder if he is psyched out about the dimensions at Citi Field. It can be brutal for a newcomer to hit, especially in the middle of the season. That has to be the only theory to why he is playing like Jason Bay rather than Yoenis Cespedes.
Bruce has hit the ball hard to his credit, but it has been outs. That’s where the frustration of hitting at Citi Field has gotten into his head.
Remember Bruce was used to hitting in a hitter’s park in Great American Ball Park, which is a haven for left-handed power hitters. 14 of his 29 home runs have come at Great American Ball Park.
He knew Citi Field can be rough on hitters, and that’s why he preferred not to be traded to the Mets.
He has let that into his head. It shows by his play.
That’s why it’s for the best if the Mets don’t pick up his option after this season. There’s no point having him play for them since he is useless. He is a poor fit for the stadium he is playing in for his home games.
He probably will play tonight, but if he does not get going tonight, it’s fair to wonder if he is going to get playing time the rest of the season.
Right now, Bruce is such a lost cause that anyone can be a better option than him.
Collins reached that epiphany last night.
Bruce will have to get used to being pinch-hit or not be in the lineup anymore.
Time has run out for him to snap out of it.