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The First Night of Something

So the Jay Bruce [1] era — you must’ve known I wasn’t going to call it Jon Niese [2] 2.0 — is off to a roaring start.

No thanks to Bruce himself, but that’s OK — Yoenis Cespedes [3] needed a couple of days to acclimate too. Most of us, if suddenly transferred across the country to work for a different company effective immediately, would be out of sorts for a couple of weeks. And we don’t do our jobs with 40,000 people baying at us and drawing conclusions from each little segment of our day.

“This Fry guy can’t do anything! Haw, he misspelled ‘conclusions’ and had to go back. And then he misspelled ‘misspelled.’ No, he really did. You can’t make this stuff up. Ha, lemme tweet that. Bet it’ll get a lot of RTs. BOO!!!! LEARN TO TYPE, FRY!!!!”

So yeah, let’s not schedule Bruce’s hanging quite yet.

Still, I’ll go on record as saying I’m not a fan of this trade, for a couple of reasons:

First off, I hate trading away Dilson Herrera [4], who came up from Double-A as a 20-year-old, held his own in the bigs, and then never got a real chance after that. Herrera’s still just 22, and I like his instincts and his bat. And who’s your 2017 second baseman now? Are we resigning Neil Walker [5]? Shifting Wilmer Flores [6] over because we’re once more fantasizing about a healthy David Wright [7]? Pushing an aging Jose Reyes [8] over there and hoping that doesn’t make Kaz Matsui reappear?

Second, the Mets have utterly bungled Michael Conforto [9]‘s development, essentially wasting a year for the best hitting prospect they’ve had in years. This malpractice began with Terry Collins [10]‘s baffling insistence that Conforto couldn’t hit lefties, despite a minor-league track record that said otherwise. Yanked in and out of the lineup, Conforto got anxious and then got in his own way. Now he has to compete for the playing time he needs and is being asked to play center field, which he can’t really do. The Mets have managed to hurt Conforto by not allowing him to succeed and by setting him up to fail, which is a pretty versatile display of negligence. And what happens next year? Even with Cespedes presumably gone, you still have Conforto, Bruce and Curtis Granderson [11] and only two corner spots. Is Lucas Duda [12] getting traded? Is there a plan at all?

One thing I’ve always liked about Sandy Alderson is he strikes me as coolly — heck, coldly — focused on the big picture, regardless of fan outrage and columnist chatter and sports-talk carny barking. I hate seeing Niese back in a Mets uniform, a point I won’t belabor, but I get that his return is a neat bit of salary legerdemain, a smaller-scale version of the Padres and Braves working together to purge mistakes. But Bruce? That strikes me as doing something to do something, which doesn’t feel very Aldersonian.

But you know one of the many great things about baseball? Unlike the rest of life, you actually hope you’re wrong. You’re ecstatic if you wind up printing out your bloggy prediction of doom and eating it. Crow can be the most delicious of banquets.

I hope that’s the case with Jay Bruce. And hey, perhaps Tuesday night’s game was an appetizer, crow-wise. The Mets got on the board thanks to a home run from Alejandro De Aza [13], whom most any Mets fan would have gladly driven to the airport not too long ago. They extended their lead because of a homer from Travis d’Arnaud [14], whom many a Mets fan wanted to trade to Milwaukee or Cleveland or the Ross Ice Shelf. Bruce didn’t get it done with runners in scoring position, but perhaps he was just being polite to his new teammates. Heck, Jon Niese did a very un-Niesean thing in his pregame press conference by passing up the chance to hurl a few ex-teammates under the bus, telling the scribes that the problem in Pittsburgh was that he didn’t pitch well.

It was only one night, but a night beating the Yankees behind seven runs is a pretty good night. Here’s to some more like it [15].