Alright, enough. This is unbelievable. It’s the most successful season of Cincinnati Reds baseball in over a decade, and I’m completely miserable.
Some might wonder why that would be. The reason is Jay Bruce. In all of my life following baseball, and following sports for that matter; I’ve never experienced such frustration in rooting for a player.
Jay Bruce, who was billed as a power hitter; has one home run since June 12th. He OPS’d around .500 in July, and he’s OPS’ing around .300 in August thus far.
Day after day passes and nothing changes. Jay was a much better hitter when he broke into the big leagues then he is today. Jay was a better hitter a year ago when he finished the season at .223 then he is right now. Some might argue that point; but you’re simply wrong.
I’ll take a .223 guy or a .210 guy with big time power and good defense any day of the week over a guy who has no power and hits .240, and yes; .240 is where Jay Bruce is going to end up this year I think.
Jay has to stop listening to Dusty fuckin’ Baker and to Brook fucking Jacoby. Just be yourself dude. Hit how you hit in the minor leagues, coming up through your entire career. Stop thinking about your hands or your tendencies and just go out and fucking let it rip. This is beyond ridiculous. Who gives a shit how much you strike out or how many walks you’re drawing or what your contact rate is at this point. IT’S NOT WORKING!
Do whatever you have to do to start hitting the ball hard again. People think that it’s the strikeouts that drive me nuts. That’s where you’re wrong. Every time I see a rollover soft ground-out to second base; every foul pop out I see, every infield fly that I have to bear; a part of my soul dies. I literally cannot believe that Bruce has been this bad.
Number one prospect in baseball, guy has seemingly forgotten his most valuable tool. Every at-bat looks painful. Every semblance of an approach looks forced. He doesn’t look comfortable, ever. I never thought it would get this bad. Jay Bruce looks right now like a guy who wants to be anywhere but on a baseball field and especially in a batters box. He looks like a guy who’s going to shrivel up and quit when the season is over. Hell, he looks like he’s quit now.
I said a long time ago that Jay Bruce’s stock was going to take a huge hit in the 2nd half of the season. I was right.
It’s been three seasons, and we’re seeing not only a lack of improvement; but a complete and total regression. A new mean is being established, and it’s one that reads a line of 12 to 13 home runs, 60 RBI (maybe), and a .240 average. That’s beyond terrible.
Why am I frustrated? I guess there’s still a small part of me who thinks that this isn’t who this kid is as a player. He’s better then this. He’s not the only one to blame–unless he’s not working his tail off to get better–and I don’t believe that’s necessarily the case. Dusty Baker needs to buy a fucking clue somewhere and start hitting him 2nd in the lineup rather then a combination of Orlando Cabrera, Paul Janish, and Chris Heisey. What did those guys ever do to deserve that spot? If you continue to hit Jay Bruce 6th and 7th in the lineup, with the protection of Ryan Hanigan, Drew Stubbs, and whatever else crawls out from under a rock; he’s going to continue to look like shit and not hit. That’s what’s happened here. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always had. It’s a simple principle. Dusty Baker’s shitty ass Sunday lineups drive me nuts, and this drives me up a wall as well. Give the fucking kid a chance.
So yeah, we’re in first place by a half of a game. But I’m still pretty miserable. I’ve never been this far off in my life. I’ve watched this game for near 30 years. I’ve never been this wrong before.
People can bitch all they want about Adam Dunn, but I wasn’t wrong about him. He was a stud. He’s going to be a future Hall of Famer in all probability. When Dunn slumped, sometimes it felt like he was never going to hit again. Then in the blink of an eye he’d make you feel stupid for allowing the thought to enter into your mind because he’d crush a 420 foot home run. Dunn always had that centering property that allowed himself to come right back to ‘good enough’ and then soon enough he’d be back to great. He’s still doing that in this league. I was right about Adam Dunn.
The reason Dunn has been able to do that time and again in his career is because he’s got that tiger inside his tank. It’s in his DNA. He’s a big time athlete, and he knows it. He’s confident inside. He acts the part. I followed Dunn closely. He didn’t seem the type that would allow much doubt to creep into his mind. Others might have doubted him, but Adam Dunn never did. That’s where Jay Bruce and Dunn differ. I get the feeling–and it’s more then a feeling–that Jay Bruce doesn’t have that same killer instinct or inner swagger in himself. Until he finds it and realizes that he belongs; no one is going to be able to help him.
People want to talk about ‘a lot of pressure’. I don’t buy it. The guy is playing baseball. He didn’t fall ill and still have to pay his mortgage. He doesn’t have to sell software to companies who are programmed not to buy in order to eat. He’s playing baseball. The same game he’s played his whole life. He’s played in every game this season. At some point he could have said to himself that he’s going to be out there no matter what he does and not worry about it. The Reds have done their part. They’ve given Bruce the life-raft in which he could either stay afloat on or drown himself. Bruce has fallen short on his end of the deal. You can’t fault the Reds. They’re doing everything they know how to give him a chance to be what we thought we’d see. This should have been the year. Don’t you think we would have seen ‘it’ by now if we were going to? I do.
People want to say ‘he’s 23 years old’. As of today he’s had 1153 Major League at-bats. There’s no reason that he shouldn’t be a finished product or more refined. The simple reality is that Jay Bruce is done, at least in Cincinnati. It’s not going to work out. He’ll get next season I’m sure, but we’ll see the same shitty approach and lack of adjustments that we see this year. Perhaps years down the road he’ll realize his potential somewhere else. But it’s not going to be in the Queen city.
The worst part of it all is that–in a season in which the Reds have been such a success–Bruce has had so little to do with it. I never dreamed in a million years that at this point in the year the Reds could find themselves in first place, and there’s talks of sending Jay Bruce down to AAA Louisville. If he could have even found a way to hit .260 with some power and some timely hitting that would lead to even an average amount of RBI’s, he’d be getting big time credit right now in league circles. Instead, his defenders like me have withdrawn and realized that we’re only sounding like homers and fools at this point. At this point, you don’t know what you have in Jay Bruce other then an absolute uncertainty.
Jay, as much as we’d love to say please get your head out of your ass for the sake of those that believe in you so much; we won’t go there. We’ll just say this, if you want to be a Major League Baseball player, then prove that you haven’t quit because that’s what it appears that you’ve done. Play with some fire and intensity. Play with abandon and nothing to lose. Save your career and don’t worry about not belonging at this level–because it’s a self fulfilling prophec
y. Swing the fucking bat, HARD. We assume that’s what you did to get to this point. Go back to being that guy. Because frankly, watching this guy is no fun. This guy sucks.
At some point don’t you just say to the doubters: “Fuck you, I’m Jay Bruce” and start crushing baseballs again? Your boy Adam Dunn was able to do it. Every guy who has ever succeeded in this game has done it. Try it.