First, I apologize that we have not been posting as much. Scott and myself have been very busy with work and I have had new teacher orientation the last week. Once I get some lesson plans finished, I’ll be back at it writing more consistently. Now, back to the issue at hand.
As an Indians fan, I think I speak for most of us when I say that I was shocked that the Tribe was able to pull off a trade to get Jay Bruce after the trade deadline. With the kind of production he has had this season, I thought there was no way he would clear waivers and be available. I was shocked when it was reported that the Yankees didn’t get him because they didn’t want to pay the remaining amount on his contract. The Yankees, of all teams! Not only was this a fantastic trade for the Indians, but I truly believe that this move will define the season for the Indians.
First, lets break down the trade. It was a simple 1-for-1 swap. Jay Bruce went to Cleveland in exchange for minor league pitcher Ryder Ryan. Jay Bruce had been slashing .258/.324/.524 for the Mets with 29 home runs. Bruce, at best, is an average defender and will slide into his natural position in right field. The move would add a big power bat to put behind Edwin Encarnacion in the lineup and would help makeup for the loss of Michael Brantley, who was just placed on the 10-day DL. The team is also without outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall, so the move adds stability to roster now but may complicate things in September when they return. The Indians assumed all of the remaining salary left on Bruce’s deal (around $4 million), and he will be a free agent at the end of the season.
On the other end of the deal, the Tribe sent 22 year old Ryder Ryan to the Mets. This season at Class A Lake County, Ryan has a 4.79 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and a 3.7 BB/9. While those numbers aren’t great for a player pitching at single A, there are several scouts that think he could pitch one day in a Major League bullpen. For the price of Bruce, it was just a low level prospect and the obligations of taking on salary for almost two months of regular season production from Jay Bruce. This move, however, will pay off and push the Indians into the playoffs.
This move is not just about filling the gap right now. It is about adding to a struggling lineup for the playoffs. As it stands (knock on wood), Brantley and Chisenhall will return at some point in September. By the time the Tribe gets to the end of the season, this lineup 1-9 will be very deep and should pair very nicely with a dominant pitching staff.
So, why will Jay Bruce save the Cleveland Indians? He is the trade piece the Indians should have acquired before the deadline. For a team that was looking for a big move, the only player they added at the deadline was reliever Joe Smith. Locker rooms and players look to their front offices to see what kind of moves they make and use that to determine if they are just as invested in the product on the field as the players are. When you add a player like Jay Bruce, the message is clear: win now. That is the kind of boost that this team has needed. I was in Boston and watched the Indians struggle offensively and on the mound. I’ve watched a team that has battled inconsistency and injuries with their position players and key pieces of it’s pitching staff. This is a team that has needed the emotional boost of adding a big name player.
On the field, this only makes the team better. As the next two months move play out, the Tribe will hopefully re-add Brantley and Chisenhall from the DL, but also Josh Tomlin and Andrew Miller as well. If this team can get healthy, they will go deep in the playoffs. Sure, they might not have the best record in the AL, but as long as their roster is healthy they will go far. So Jay Bruce, welcome to Cleveland. The fate of the Indians’ playoff run rests on your shoulders.