While in attendance at Great American Ballpark this weekend, I heard many murmurs from fans calling for Bruce to be sat or sent down to the Minor Leagues. Today, even the Enquirer has an article out entitled, “Jay Bruce not so almighty lately.” Can anyone give the guy a break? I feel like the kid, and that is what he is, has the weight of the world on his shoulders. The hype has surrounded Bruce, the “Almighty One” from day 1. Also the first few weeks he had with the team made it so there was no ceiling on the expectation meter. People expected the kid to be the next Ken Griffey Jr. (of the 90s). Well I hate to say it, just because he has the same batting stance as the Moeller High School product Griffey, does not mean he will ever play at the same level. You can probably count the players on one hand that ever had a decade like Griffey did in the 90s.
People are calling for Jay’s pink tag. And apparently Dusty is somewhat listening in that he sat the former fan favorite on Sunday for a “working day off,” aka a great way to shoot somebody’s confidence to shreds. Well since people are clamoring for it and Dusty is apparently somewhat listening, lets take a look inside the numbers.
Red’s Outfield Situation:
LF-Jonny Gomes: This wild man should be the unquestioned starter. He has put up a .277 batting average to go along with 12 HRs and 63 RBIs. Gomes is a big time fan favorite who has some wild man tendencies, but he always comes up big in the clutch. Gomes is one of the game’s best hitters with runner in scoring position. Not to mention he hustles his butt off on every play.
CF-Drew Stubbs: The 25-year-old and former number 1 draft pick out of Texas has enjoyed a very up and down rookie season thus far. Nobody said the transition to Major League pitching would be easy. And it hasn’t been for Drew. He currently is batting .244 with 13 HRs and 46 RBIs. In his last 10 games he has 9 hits in 32 at bats. Stubbs is the unquestioned starting center fielder due to the promise and potential he has demonstrated. People will just have to live with the ups and downs as they would with any rookie. Plus we do not really have another natural center fielder on the roster.
RF-Now this is where matters get interesting. We currently have 3 guys that are capable of playing the position. The normal starter Jay Bruce, Laynce Nix, and the young and upstart Chris Heisey. All 3 of these guys can play. And lately, people have been getting more of a look at Heisey and Nix as the fans are complaining about Bruce’s play of late.
RF-Jay Bruce: The Reds have not had more of a hyped player come up through their farm system in my memory. This kid had it all and people were counting the days to his arrival even when he was down at Single A Dayton. Remember Bruce was Baseball America’s 2007 Minor League Player of the Year for a reason. Bruce started out very slowly this season and people were highly disgruntled. But after a horrible April, the team and Bruce caught fire. Bruce’s average soared all the way up into the .280s. But lately, Bruce is just 9 for 36 over the last 10 games, and his batting average has dropped from .277 to .253. Fans have no longer been chatting Bruce, but they have been yelling BOO. And frankly, this is entirely uncalled for. Bruce is having a good year. And yes I know he came off the bench and struck out on 3 straight pitches yesterday. But not too many guys come off that bench excited or happy after being sat for a “working day off.” So fans are calling for the 2nd coming of the “Kid” to be sent down. Well lets look at our alternative options.
LF Reserve 1- Laynce Nix: The 29-year-old is having a decent year. He is batting .225 with 4 HRs and 12 RBIs during his brief stints of playing time. But even without noticing that his numbers at the plate are worse than Bruce’s, his fielding prowess does not even compare. Bruce is a great outfielder, not to mention he has one of the best arms in the game. So Laynce overwelmingly fails as a replacement for Jay.
LF Reserve 2-Chris Heisey: This young hot-shot has speed that kills. He also is batting a solid .282 with 5 HRs and 7 RBIs. The kid is 6 of his last 18 during this 10 game stretch where Bruce has struggled. And though he has done comparable to Bruce or even better at the plate, once again he does not have half the arm of Jay. So Heisey in my eyes would be a better replacement than Laynce. But are you ready to send Jay down to the Minors and set Chris Heisey as your everyday starter in left? I mean the kid can play, but I feel once again Jay is a better option at this point.
So please people be grateful for having Jay. He will come out of this slump. I cannot wait to hear the sounds of BRUCE, rather than BOO in the near future.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.