Tag Archives: Jay Bruce

Jay Bruce’s nightmare season continues

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 7.46.02 PM

Jay Bruce was moved to the bereavement list today for reasons still unknown. As a person who loves Jay Bruce, this is incredibly sad and concerning within a season that has been particularly difficult to sit back and watch him struggle through.

Bruce is down to .215 now, with 10 home runs and 42 RBI. This was supposed to be Bruce’s greatest season ever. It’s going to end up his worst. At least in 2009 when he hit a career-low .223, you knew he was on the way up. You knew his day of redemption would come. If you knew the game at all – you knew that it was all still out ahead of him.

This has a different feel to it. This time, we’re not so sure what it is, or how the story ends. Some knowledgeable fans are actually questioning if Jay Bruce ever finds it again. While we wouldn’t bet against him – we want to point out something that has it’s place in this.

Back at the beginning of this month (a month that has been Bruce’s worst of the season in terms of OPS), Jay Bruce sat down with Eno Sarris at FanGraphs to discuss hitting and his approach. It was a phenomenal piece, and many fans remarked that with a work ethic and approach like that; it was a matter of time until Jay Bruce found his way.

We didn’t say it at the time, but that actually wasn’t our thought. Not as well as we know this player. Our actual thought was ‘Wow, Jay Bruce is doing an awful lot of thinking right now. That can’t be a good thing in a game you want to keep as simple as possible’. Bruce has always been a player who slumps and surges to the extremes. This is because even with all his immense physical talents, Bruce has never truly mastered the mental aspect of the game. That’s why to us, it wasn’t a good sign to learn the guy is so deep in his own mind he might as well be Syd Barrett.

It’s the same game it’s always been. Bruce is a better hitter – we think – when he keeps his approach as simple as possible. See the ball, hit the ball. Don’t think too much in the box. Certainly do not attempt to work on or try new things during the game you’re playing in. We aren’t a big league hitting instructor, but whatever the Reds right fielder has tried this season has been a miserable failure. It’s time to ‘dumb’ it down a bit and do what he did when he came out of the minor leagues. He was a better hitter then.

In the meantime, Jay Bruce the person is in our prayers. He’s a good guy, and the bereavement list typically never means anything but heartache. It’s easy to forget while watching these guys each night that: they are human. They have emotion too. They feel things.

If this is indeed the beginning of the end of Bruce in Cincinnati, it’s been a pretty remarkable run at times. We aren’t ready for that yet, so let’s hope a day of redemption awaits Bruce Almighty somewhere just over the pass.

The Night the Reds offense Put me to sleep at the Ballpark

100_0380

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

I went down to Cincinnati last night with my buddy Joe to see Bryce Harper take some cuts. I was one of the 38,812 last night in a stadium that seemed packed to the rafters. A stadium that was so very quiet all night long because the Reds collected just four hits and as they so often do when the stadium is a sell-out; they just let down.

100_0372

Jayson Werth didn’t get any knocks last night, here he is after reaching base on a walk.

100_0368

One of the cool parts of the game was a Bald Eagle flying in from center field after the National Anthem. I think his name was Sam the Eagle.

100_0371

Alfredo Simon just didn’t have it last evening. He went 4 and 1/3, gave up nine hits and three earned runs. Denard Span owned the Reds last night, tuning them up for four hits on his own.

100_0373

Man, Jay Bruce is really struggling. He didn’t really sting anything all night long, and he’s down now to .219 on the season. I don’t know what is wrong with him. I hate to say it, but perhaps he just needs a change of scenery. There’s no reason for a player of his caliber to be having a season like this. Star players simply do not struggle in this matter. It’s painful to sit back and watch him endure.

100_0380

The biggest thing that Bryce Harper did last night was robbing Billy Hamilton of extra bases with a web gem, top-ten catch. It appeared that he re-injured himself at first. Always the fear with Harper. We’ve got video of the catch below:

Harper went 1 for 4 with a hit off Alfredo Simon, a walk, and a run. I didn’t realize during the game that he actually tweaked his stance again.

100_0378

Here is the Budweiser Party Deck out in Right Field. It was a happening spot last night on a beautiful Friday evening just off the river. One of the only spots that Reds fans could generate any excitement. One of my friends who texted me while I was at the game remarked that ‘beer sales were probably up last night’. He had to have been correct. I had six on my own in about forty minutes. That combined with the Reds offense made me feel really tired.

100_0375

Baseball Gods: help Jay Bruce turn this thing around.

Jay Bruce is entering one of his customary hot streaks

Jay+Bruce+Chicago+Cubs+v+Cincinnati+Reds+l02-kbsGDwNl

It’s happening. At least, it may be happening. It’s hard to know for certain, but it sure feels like Mt. Bruce is starting to erupt. And when it happens, there’s nothing that can stop it. You best just get your camera and get the fuck out of the way, because there is no pitcher (any handed) that is safe when the Bruce volcano starts to bubble and burst like so.

When he was in the middle of one of these rages last season, we did a post about the finest hot streaks of his career. By our count, he only really erupted for one stretch last year, and if indeed that is what is going on right now it would be the first time this year that he has done so.

The hallmark signs are all there. It started with the game-winning home run on Sunday. Then he dropped the bat head on one last night for another no-doubter. This afternoon, while you were working (you should have been working you sand-baggin’ son of a bitch), he hit another moonshot that was the difference in the game. Three days, three moonshot home runs off left-handed pitching. Including one in his first career game as a first baseman!

The Reds really need this. They’ve gained 2.5 games on the division leading Milwaukee Brewers in a couple of days, and have the chance to do more damage tonight. With Joey Votto hitting the disabled list, the Reds just need to step up and carry them for a little while.

While I think the Reds have a formidable lineup overall and a good pitching staff, Bruce is the one guy in the lineup who can step in and carry them on his back for a few weeks. He’s one of the few guys in baseball capable of doing that. He’s a truly mystifying player – but if he’s in one of those Jay Bruce grooves – Reds fans are in for the best stretch of their summer. Do not doubt the man when he gets hot.

He *could* change the shape of the NL Central division, single handed. Opposing teams know it, opposing pitchers know it, and they all know they’re in deep shit if he keeps deciding to erupt. There simply without a remedy or solution for him. We’ve also covered that before.

Baseball is fun, unpredictable, and random

Br9opqbCMAAHGhD

Out of absolutely NOWHERE: Jay Bruce is the Reds new first baseman.

I think I know Reds baseball and specifically Jay Bruce about as well as anyone out there. If they played the game for one hundred years I never could have predicted this. This is awesome!

We already have a lunch bet with our boy Nick that Jay Bruce gets through tonight without an error. If he moves to another position at any point during the game the bet is off. If he does not commit an error, free Piada!

Sometimes you’re just proud of a player

Br5X9ViIEAAl0xz

[Box Score]

It’s a funny thing. Jay Bruce is still our favorite player. Other guys might be more exciting, other guys are a more captivating watch, other guys are just plain better; and he’s not the superstar we were certain at points he would be. He’s a good player. But we’ve said it before, Jay Bruce is just our sentimental favorite. There’s no one that can take that place and hold it in baseball, no matter how low his batting average gets. No matter how inconsistent he remains. No matter when the end comes of him wearing a Reds uniform.

We couldn’t wait to get to the park to see him play today, just like that first magical night when he made his MLB debut. And then the next night when we went back. We talked with our wife about how Bruce has actually been with the Reds now for parts of SEVEN seasons! It seems like yesterday that we were watching Bruce in big league game numbers one and two. Today, was Bruce’s 899th big league game. It was the first game we’ve gone to with our pregnant wife. It seemed like when we started watching Jay Bruce we were still immature children. Life – and baseball – can blend time and be weird like that. Nonetheless I was excited to see Jay Bruce play today, just for some reason I had a feeling about something.

Br5X5AVIQAAKWlS

We got out of our car and parked in a choice spot. The sun seemed to be shining on the Redlegs from the time we got out of the car, as it was a beautiful day for baseball. Was it foreshadowing that the sun would shine upon the Reds on this day?

Br5YIaUIUAA--YZ

I told my wife that Yovani Gallardo was Jay Bruce’s ‘type’. That he could get one today off him. If you can fight through what my iPhone did to the Reds jumbotron here, you can see he had great career numbers against Gallardo. He would groundout for an RBI in his first at-bat, fly out against the wall in left-center in his second AB, and hit a rocket line out to center in his third. His fourth at-bat wouldn’t come against Gallardo, but rather Will Smith. And Jay Bruce won the Reds the game.

Br5YFLCIYAAST7w

Here’s a picture of the Reds Smokehouse out in the right field corner. The food options are a little pricey, but they feature really cool special menu items that change with each opposing team that comes to town. For the Brewers, they were serving beer-soaked bratwurst.

Br5YAyFIIAI6ThY

 

I just realized the All-Star Selection show was tonight when I saw this advertisement for the All Star Game at the stadium. Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco are All Stars for the first time.

I would like you to remember back to the Reds season preview post we did for a moment. Here’s what we said:

Ryan Ludwick returns from injury. He’s really aging, so I don’t expect much. I think the Reds will get less than people want to see out of Ludwick and Cozart and they’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much Mesoraco and Todd Frazier hit. Frazier is one of my breakout player candidates in all of baseball. He has an ugly swing but I think he’s simply too talented to flop completely and that park will aid his numbers in a great way.

Bada-bing bada boom.

 

 

Br5YPWAIQAAa7aG

We’re on our way to the game and I’m listening to Sirius MLB Network radio and Jim Bowden tells us that the Reds owner is in the clubhouse and something big is going down. Joey Votto was actually headed to the disabled list, again. So this is the only Votto sighting we had today.

Mat Latos went eight strong innings and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Todd Frazier had two hits and Devin Mesoraco had three. But the take-home from today was Jay Bruce.

On a day when baseball selected it’s All-Stars, Bruce wasn’t on the list. He has had better seasons, and he will certainly have better seasons. His stats are pretty and his teammates have dropped like flies all season around him, he’s even had knee surgery. But he’s continued to grind – because that’s the type of player he is. Even within the game today, he had to grind. He drilled a couple of balls right at people and just when it seemed he couldn’t buy a hit and the average is plummeting, he steps up in the bottom of the 8th inning and hits a towering home run off a lefty that made George Grande sing, voice cracking like a schoolgirl.

I’ll always love Jay Bruce. I have no way of knowing how many pages to the scrapbook I’ll be able to add to before the game has decided time has run out for us, but today was yet another. Our time has not come yet. I’m still really thankful Jay Bruce is playing in my big league city and hitting in the middle of the lineup. Sometimes, it’s easiest to love those who have their glaring imperfections because they’re like the rest of us. It’s easy to love Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera right now. These guy are the perfect ballplayers. We’ll still take Jay Bruce with his warts and these big moments that mean all that much more.

I went to see Yasiel Puig play today

Bp9yt8hCcAA9Xoo

[Box Score]

[Game Highlights]

Another item can be crossed off the baseball bucket list; I spent an afternoon in the same ballpark as Yasiel Puig.

That said, I didn’t get to my seat until the fifth inning, meaning I saw exactly four and a half innings of baseball. Let me go on a small mini-rant now if I may to relieve some frustration.

It was a Reds ‘business day special’. I’ve went to two or three of these in my life, but it was always when I was working downtown and didn’t need to find a place to park.

My friend and I learned today that you don’t go to a Reds business day special unless you work downtown. We arrived around 12:15, twenty solid minutes before the scheduled first pitch. Every garage was ‘PERMIT ONLY’ and the one parking garage that a cop told us we would be able to park in behind the US Bank Arena was full. We drove around in one-way street traffic for a solid hour it seemed. Finally we found a lot about two miles away. We parked, and we walked what seemed like forever.

Alfredo Simon and Zach Greinke cruised through the first four innings. By the time we parked, took a leak, fought through the lines and grabbed a hot dog and some peanuts; the game was into the fifth inning and I had missed two Puig AB’s and two Bruce AB’s. Not good.

Bp9yzSECAAEInPE

I missed Puig hitting a single in the first inning – his only hit on this day – but I did not miss his caught stealing to end an inning. Here he is heading out to right field after getting caught stealing. Dee Gordon and Adrian Gonzalez can be seen in the shot.

The Dodgers on this day as a whole (for the half game I saw) looked like a team ready to get back to Los Angeles. They just looked tired and went through the motions. How else to explain Alfredo ‘Big Pasta’ Simon throwing eight strong innings of one-run baseball? The Dodgers had no fight in them. And by the way, Alfredo Simon has tied Adam Wainwright at least for the time being for the National League lead with nine wins on the mound.

Baseball is completely unpredictable.

Bp9ywcyCUAA29iv

And it is that unpredictability that keeps me rabidly interested. I feel like going to a baseball game live is like buying a ticket and playing the lotto. As you are on your way to the game, you have no damn idea what you’re about to see as a whole or in terms of what each player is going to do. I thought about this on my way to the game – was today going to be the day I hit the Yasiel Puig lotto and possibly see a two homer game?

My ticket was a dud. He was 1 for 4 with a couple of ground outs and of course the aforementioned caught stealing.

Bp9y9xgCcAEVfKj

I didn’t hit the lotto on Jay Bruce either. It seems his number is coming up further and farther in between these days. I remarked during the game that Bruce seems disappointingly like a player who is simply content with being ‘good’. He appears to realize that it’s no longer possible that he will be a ‘great’ player.

I realize he’s had to play through some problems with his knee. Not much has changed since his return. He’s hitting .212 on the year now – there isn’t much you can say about a guy hitting .212 – other than I think he was a better hitter all around when he came out of the minor leagues. He’s just a pull-happy guy with some power now who is never going to hit for much average, strikes out too much, plays a solid right-field, and will not get noticed outside the Reds fanbase. I had higher hopes for Jay Bruce to be honest.

Bp92WS8CYAEZYRA

I did get to see Aroldis Chapman lock down another save, his tenth of the season. One thing that will never get old to me is seeing this guy pump 99, 99, 101, 101, 102 in the ninth inning. Blowing 3-1 fastballs past Matt Kemp when Kemp has to know it’s coming and he still can’t touch it.

Chapman struck out the side in the ninth inning to reward the Reds with their victory. He struck out the second hitter of the inning with a 92 MPH slider down. Just filthy. This guy is a God-given talent and a gift to be able to watch. He’s why you buy the ticket.

Bp-TaKjCUAATn9L

The Todd Frazier lottery numbers came up today, as he hit his 14th home run of the season. Of course, I didn’t see it; we were behind the left field bleachers on Mehring Way when the fireworks were going off listening to it on 700 WLW.

The Reds shouldn’t have business day games if there isn’t a better solution for parking, plain and simple. If you plan to attend one of these games, be ready to have it really dampen your entire experience. I didn’t get to walk around the park, I didn’t get to try any of the new concession stands, I just sat in my seat for what seemed like ten minutes because we arrived so late because it was a true downtown-disaster. I doubt there are these problems around Wrigley.

I’m over it, and happy I got to spend an afternoon watching a few innings of baseball. And I got to see Puig play a few innings. And the Reds split a tough series, even if I know it will end up meaningless.

And next time I buy a ticket, I just might win some kind of baseball lotto!

I Went to the Reds Game LastFriday Night

BocmcmNIMAAoTkp

[Box Score]

[Game Highlights]

My bank has a box on the Owner’s club level at Great American Ball Park. Friday night was my first game of the season and it unfolded pretty perfectly. Here are some notes on it:

  • I honestly, legitimately knew the Reds would win this game. I didn’t look at the MLB Betting Odds on the way to the game but I did put money on the Reds without even caring if they were underdog or heavy favorite. I looked after I won. Of course they were a 150-plus favorite.
  • It was Jay Bruce’s first game back. He had a smoke double to right center off Shelby Miller. That was his only wow moment of the game. Man it’s just good to have
  • I think the moment everyone will remember from this game is the Brayan Pena play at first base (complete with Broxton cover – look at big fella get over there).
  • Devin Mesoraco is going to be a star, at least offensively. He hit an upper deck home run.
  • We played Makatewah Golf Course – a private course since 1910 – earlier in the afternoon. It’s a beautiful course, and we had a perfect day. If you ever get the chance to see it and you love golf, don’t think twice about it. I am told that Marty, Paul O’ Neill, Chris Sabo and a bunch of others who are famed in Reds-lore play there.

BocmVJJIgAEwo5s

  • I got to see save number 81 in the career of Aroldis Chapman. Which, it’s really quite amazing. I mean, look at a few of the Reds players on the roster and the number of home runs they have in their career. I’ve been to a lot of Reds games over the years that Chapman has been on the team, sure. But I would guess this is probably the fifth or sixth career save I’ve seen him notch in person and he has less than 100 in his career. He was pumping 102, 101, 100 pretty consecutively.
  • Todd Frazier went deep this game to put the Reds out 3-0, and he’s got nine now on the season. I told you all Mesoraco and Frazier would hit more than people thought this year;  and Ludwick and Cozart would struggle.
  • We had Skyline in our box. Amazing. Also this was the first time I’ve had Larosa’s Pizza in quite a while – it puts Donatos to shame.

After the game I headed out to Horseshoe Casino, and learned how to play craps. All it did was cost me $300 in a matter of minutes.

A great night at the park, a big Reds win, and a great way to kick off a holiday weekend.

The Storywriting Continues Friday

Jay+Bruce+Cincinnati+Reds+v+New+York+Mets+E-AvcXdnA2pl

A player’s career plays out like a story. In Jay Bruce’s case, we’re a few chapters in; but the story is not yet fully written.

The writing of the story will continue Friday; when Jay Bruce likely returns to the Reds lineup. He was activated from the DL today (don’t get too excited, they lost Joey Votto; continuing the trend of as soon as something good happens, it’s counter-acted by something bad) returning early from minor knee surgery.

As luck would just so have it; Friday at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati happens to be the first game I’m attending live all season long. I look at Friday as the beginning of the Reds season. Sure, they don’t have everyone, but it’s one last round-up with a lot of the main faces factoring in. Pretend the Reds are 0-0 and from that day onward they need to make a run.

Homer Bailey will be on the mound. Jay Bruce will be in right field. If they can muster up the effort to get a big win over the hated rivals while I’m at the park; all will seem right with the world for at least one night.

Last call for drinks; bar is closing soon. One last running of the bulls. One last chance to make a run with this current group before the window slams shut. I can’t say I believe, but as a fan I’ll go to war and go down shooting with Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey, The Toddfather and the same cast of characters I love. This sailor is going down with his ship.

Game 4, 2014: Mets 4, Reds 3

628x471

[Box Score]

Another ballgame, another heartbreaker one run loss for the Reds. Another Jay Bruce home run in a losing effort.

Mike Leake provided a very Leakian effort – he went 6 and 2/3 striking out three and walking three, but gave up two two-run bombs to Lucas Duda which was all the Mets needed to thwart the Reds.

Bruce’s home run was the 166th of his career, and his second of the season. It came off lefty John Lannan and put the Reds within a run at 4-3. He drove in all three Reds runs while also adding an RBI single earlier in the ballgame.

The story of the game for me was little Jenrry Mejia who went six innings while striking out eight for the Mets in earning the win. he walked five batters but had the stuff to get out of several jams with the strikeout; he might be a guy to watch as the season goes on because he has exceptional stuff with a plus fastball to go with.

Of course, it was gut wrenching to watch Jose Valverde work himself into trouble in the ninth inning only to get out of it by Joey Votto having a poor at bat and popping out, then dropping a splitty in to Jay Bruce to get the final out of the game and lock down the save.

Jay Bruce got one yesterday

bruceHR1

The Reds dropped another heartbreaker to the Cardinals yesterday afternoon, 7-6. The game featured a rain delay that took the start time from 12:35 PM ET to around 4:35 PM ET.

Jay Bruce hit a towering two-run home run off Lance Lynn in the first inning to put the Reds up 2-0 for his first home run of the season. Todd Frazier followed with a towering bomb to left field and the Reds were out front and running 3-0. Frazier would later add another home run later in the game off Pat Neshek that cut the Cardinals lead to the one-run deficit they would win by.

Overall, Homer Bailey was not sharp. He allowed seven hits and four earned runs over 4 and 1/3 innings. The two-run homer he allowed to Jhonny Peralta proved costly because it nearly erased a three run lead and was foreshadowing for the tough outing that Bailey had ahead of him.

Why Jay Bruce might be the smart money in your prop bet

jay-bruce

Bovada released their player-prop bets for 2014 today, and Jay Bruce checked in at fairly long odds to win the National League MVP at 33 to 1.

This seems particularly insane; when the following players are on the board at such odds:

Bryce Harper 12 to 1
Buster Posey 12 to 1
Yasiel Puig 14 to 1
Freddie Freeman 14 to 1
Matt Kemp 16 to 1

Heck, I would put Bruce’s chances at equal or greater than all of those players. He’s certainly been more consistent despite not having that ‘monster’ year yet on the back of his baseball card.

Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk agrees with us:

Bruce is going to have at least one 40-homer, 120-RBI season before he’s done. I doubt he’ll actually be a better player than Votto, but he’s the one of the two more likely to win an MVP, mostly because he gets to hit behind the guy with the .430 OBP.

Yes, and Bruce is entering that magical age-27 season. He’s either going to go off and have that monster year this year or next while still in a Reds uniform or possibly elsewhere in his early 30′s when he’s playing in his home state of Texas. Or he’ll never have it. We still think there will be a year where Bruce stays locked in all year long and is the unstoppable version of himself.

If he does that, and you lay $300 on him being the National League’s MVP, you walk away with a $10,000 payday in October when you cash in your ticket. Think about that for a bit.

So go ahead, let Jay Bruce fund your retirement account. It will be fun. It will be easy.

Cincinnati Reds 2014 Team Preview

One of the fastest to ever play the game.

One of the fastest to ever play the game.

Since that 2012 season ended and the Reds lost to the Giants in game five of the NLDS in Cincinnati after being up two games to zero on the eventual World Champion Giants, I have really been in a deep and dark depression as a Reds fan.

Some people might get really down on me for saying that – they’ll point to when the Reds were running out Jose Acevedo or Jimmy Haynes or Brandon Claussen as starting pitchers and were a losing team and tell me how good we have it now. How we’ve ‘made the playoffs’ three out of the last four years.

But there’s something that kills you about watching a team evolve from the abyss into what you know is a core’s window – and make no mistake – the last two seasons were the peak of this current group’s window. It didn’t ever hurt like that (like this) back when we were so horrible. It has taken me the entire offseason just to get some feeling back in me after the way we went out. To be fully honest, I’m still not over that 2012 afternoon that Buster Posey hit the grandslam off Mat Latos. I’ve never felt anything like that in a lifetime of watching sports. I don’t know if I’ll ever really get over it. It was like dealing with a death.

It’s made it increasingly tough to write about the Reds. Their passive offseason this year really did nothing to dispel that. If anything, it just made me a little bit apathetic towards their upcoming season. You look at their lineup, and there’s still some thunder. There are things you can find a positive in. If their pitching staff doesn’t have any injury, it features some phenomenal arms.

But this is largely the same group that couldn’t get it done the last few seasons. Something is missing. If I could tell you what that something was I would be doing a lot more than just writing about the Reds; it’s like the million-dollar question. I think the Reds needed Aroldis Chapman to develop into a top of the rotation starter that they could roll out in a must win game in the playoffs. A Randy Johnson type figure who the opposition knows is simply going to always beat them. Someone to get Mike Leake out of there. A lot of guys could close for this team. Few guys in the league strike fear into a lineup like Chapman could as a starter. But that’s never going to happen now.

Maybe that something is a real heart and soul leader. Someone who keeps Brandon Phillips in line. As much as I like Phililps, I’m starting to wonder if he’s not a little bit of a cancer in the locker room. I wouldn’t have cared if the Reds decided to part with him – but almost sheepishly they made the choice to bring him back. And along with that, they brought back the entire group that has failed to win the big one year after year. That’s concerning. You keep banging your head against the same wall long enough, all you’re going to get is a headache. The only thing different is the manager, and Bryan Price isn’t even a new voice. It’s not a shake-up. Everyone else got better, and at best the Reds stayed the same.

Continue reading

Baseball is Back

yasielspring022614

Today, baseball returned to the field (and there was only one collegiate team in play as an opponent).

The Reds beat their friends from around the Cuyahoga 8-3. Jay Bruce was back in right field. Joey Votto manned first base. Billy Hamilton hit lead-off and played centerfield.

Even though it was a long day at work, it seemed all was once again right with the world. Spring is on it’s way. There is a new hope arriving. As the sun shined during freezing temperatures outside today, something just felt different.

That Yasiel Puig guy went 2 for 3 as well.