Indians, Podcast

Don’t sleep on the Jay Bruce Trade

The Cleveland Indians made a seemingly quiet waiver trade this past week, dealing low-level minor league reliever Ryder Ryan to the New York Mets, and picking up power hitting outfielder Jay Bruce. While the deal didn’t slip under the radar in Cleveland, it certainly didn’t seem to make the waves that prior waiver deadline deals did.

Last year, the Indians made a minor league deal, bringing in A’s outfielder Coco Crisp. While Crisp had some big hits down the stretch, and while it was fun to see a former member of the Indians return home, he was just a replacement level player, at best. Still, the fanfare of his return seemed to carry more weight than Bruce, and in all honestly, in Brandon Guyer, who was arguably the more valuable add-on a couple of weeks earlier, in another waiver-trade.

In 2015, the Indians used the waiver period to deal the anchor contracts of Nick Swisher and Michael Brantley. While they received 3B Chris Johnson in the deal, the fanfare of discarding Swisher and Bourn was almost the story of the year for those 2015 Indians. While the loss of Bourn and Swisher (and ultimately Johnson) was a net gain for the roster, the deal itself was just a shuffling of money and roster spots for the Braves and the Indians.

In Bruce, the Indians have acquired a legit middle-of-the-order bat, who if used appropriately, could give the Indians’ offense the kick in the pants that it’s seemingly needed from the get go. Bruce is a 2.2 fWAR player currently, and his 29 home runs are currently tied for ninth in the league with Bryce Harper. Offensively, he found his stride after working with the Mets hitting instructors this past offseason, and according to the New York Times, his time spent working with the Mets’ director of baseball research and development, T.J. Barra was even more important than swings in the cage.

Like many players that Mike Chernoff and Chris Antonetti value, Bruce brings a substantial IQ to the game, and it is paying off in a big way on the field. It looks like Terry Francona has actually found his Jason Giambi, except Jay Bruce is still a really good baseball player on the field.

WFNY’s Mike Hattery and Jim Pete really took a deep dive into Jay Bruce in this podcast, and if you weren’t a fan before, we’ll clear off a spot on the bandwagon.

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Here’s the lineup:

  • Why wasn’t the Jay Bruce trade a bigger deal?
  • Bruce has been significantly better than all the Indians’ outfielders offensively
  • Where does Jay Bruce fit in the playoffs?
  • Jay Bruce has been better offensively and defensively than Michael Brantley this year
  • The line-up looks much better with Jay Bruce in it
  • If everyone comes back healthy, Tito can’t mess up the line-up
  • Does Brantley have a “healthy ceiling?”
  • Does Kipnis have a “healthy ceiling?”
  • Injuries sap your profile as you pass age 30
  • Who’d you rather, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis or Jay Bruce?
  • Heel Mike (that was for you Nino)
  • Extend Chisenhall? (Nom will love this)
  • Santana staying makes a lot of sense
  • What does a Carlos Santana deal look like?
  • The free agent market could make a Santana deal to stay…more likely than you think!
  • Does Santana over Brantley make sense, without Mike and Jim getting pitchforked?
  • Brantley in left, or at first?
  • Peak Brantley is long gone
  • We LOVE Michael Brantley, but…
  • Be honest, how many people thought he’d play 88 games this year this past January?
  • Baseball’s shifted towards Jay Bruce…
  • Jay Bruce, metrics master
  • Bruce SEEMS TO BE A TITO GUY, do they sign him?
  • Brantley’s staying…right?
  • Bruce has been an Indians target for awhile
  • Bruce extends the line-up better than Brantley and Kipnis
  • The Indians don’t like rentals
  • Did the Indians sign Bruce as a preemptive way to sign him in the offseason?
  • Where does Bruce fit now in the lineup
  • What about the playoff roster? AJax, Bruce, Brantley, Almonte, Zimmer, Guyer, Lonnie Chisenhall
  • Yeah, Mike and I figured out why Chis is going to play a little bit of third…

  • Chris

    Top 6 when healthy?
    Lindor
    Brantley
    Ramirez
    Encarnacion
    Bruce / Santana
    Santana / Bruce

    And who is sleeping on the Bruce trade?

  • Steve

    I have no idea what was so wrong about Santana leading off, and now he has to bat behind the career .319 OBP?

  • Chris

    2017 Splits

    Bruce vs LHP – .231 / .274 / .470
    Santana vs LHP – .225 / .319 / .394

    Bruce vs RHP – .273 / .348 / .539
    Santana vs RHP – .254 / .363 / .450

    Is your contention about Santana vs Bruce, or Santana not leading off? If we’re just talking Santana vs Bruce, I’d definitely take Bruce’s over Santana’s vs RHP. You wouldn’t have to try hard to sell me on flipping them vs LHP, but Santana’s batting average is just so damn irritating.

  • Steve

    Not even a whole year’s worth of platoon splits are far too small a sample to use going forward. Santana is almost certainly the better hitter going forward against either type of pitcher.

  • Chris

    Over their careers, Bruce has higher BA, SLG, and OPS than Santana vs RHP. I’d still put him 5 vs RHP.

    Bruce is lower across the board vs LHP, with only slugging even remotely close

  • Steve

    Bruce has played most of his career in a better hitters park than Santana, and OBP is just that damn important. Santana has Bruce, 122 to 116 wRC+ vs RHP.

  • woofersus

    And half a year’s stats don’t account for 1st half/2nd half splits, either.

    Santana: 1st half .238/.357/.424/.781
    2nd half .260/.372/.470/.842

    Bruce: 1st half .256/.325/.483/.808
    2nd half .240/.310/.456/.767

    Not that such things are always predictive over a 2.5 month period, obviously, but if we’re going to look at splits…

  • woofersus

    Ah, the 2015 unloading. Let us never forget the cost of paying big money for a veteran FA and getting it wrong. (until the next time they don’t go out and get a guy and DOLANZ R CHEEP!) Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and Chris Johnson are all out of the majors in 2017, yet the $9M being paid to Johnson this year is tied with Andrew Miller for 4th highest on the team.