Cincinnati.com’s John Fay asks today (in an almost campaigning fashion), whether or not it’s time to sign Jay Bruce long-term:
Bruce’s OPS after the All-Star Break was .951. Only five full-time National League players did better: Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki and Jayson Werth. And Bruce will still be 23 on Opening Day 2011.
The Reds think Bruce will qualify for arbitration as a Super 2. They’ve got to look at locking him up long-term.
What do you think? Time to offer Bruce a multi-year deal?
What I think; is that our team’s beat writer who watches them play every day thinks that we should offer him a long term deal.
Before I campaign–and why should I have to when it comes to all-world, home-grown talent finally delivering like it should–I’d like to reference a quote that I hope the Reds see.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get where you’ve always been.
For how long did the Reds and their ownership group try to pay players on a year to year basis while finishing in the basement of the NL Central? How many years did the Reds ride it out only to trade guys who grew up on our farm system? It didn’t get them anywhere, except show us all a place we don’t want to return to.
It’s time for the Reds front office to make a statement. Take a player like Jay Bruce who is loved by the fans a great face of the organization, sign him long term. Say to the people who follow your organization that: “This, this is the type of guy we want to build around. This is the type of reward that people get here by handling themselves with class, hard work, and getting it done on the field.”
I’m not talking about a three year deal. Or a four year deal. That’s what old, loser front-offices did to lock guys up “long-term” here. They did it with Brandon Phillips. Walt Jocketty knows what a real long term deal is. He pounded out plenty of them in St. Louis. A true long term contract would be between 6 and 10 years. Buy out a few of Jay’s arbitration-eligible years; similar to how Tampa Bay did with Evan Longoria. Or to how the Cleveland Indians did with Grady Sizemore a few years back. That’s just two examples.
As for the why they should do it (and trust me, they know they should), from Fangraphs: Jay Bruce finished the season with a UZR of +19.9, the second highest rating in all of baseball behind Brett Gardner (LF).
Jay Bruce finished this season with a WAR of 5.2, the second best on the team behind Joey Votto. Scott Rolen was third at 5.0. For a 23 year old to finish a season with a WAR of 5.2, and he had six weeks in which he didn’t really hit much; that’s a guy who is scary good.
His Line Drive % increased back to 20.1% and his walk rate increased again from 9.8% or 10.1%. On defense, he is one of best defensive players in the game. It’s going to be a sheer crime if he doesn’t win the Gold Glove award. I’m gonna make a prediction: Jay Bruce will be a contender for the NL MVP in 2011. And if that happens, how many millions of dollars will the Reds have cost themselves by trying to wait one more year?
If you are a winning organization; and the Reds have taken the steps to tell us that they are every step of the way, you don’t let a kid that grew up in your farm system who plays corner outfield (differing from first base where Joey Votto plays because offense and defense aren’t at a premium at that spot as they are in right field) ever leave town. Jay Bruce is not the type of individual that LeBron James is, and he won’t hold the organization hostage. He’ll take a fair contract that provides him with stability for the next 6 to 7 years, allowing him to possibly be a free agent again when he’s 30.
Take care of this kid. Do the right thing here, and do it now while it is a win-win for both sides. That’s what good business is all about. And take into consideration the fans. This is what the knowledgeable, die-hard, and good fans really want to see. You want to build off-season excitement in your organization? Lock-up a guy long-term who puts butts in the seats every night.
If nothing else, it’s simple economics guns & butter. Jay Bruce was meant to be a Cincinnati Red for a long, long time. It’s time to make it happen, Reds.