Let’s start with his failures. Jay Bruce’s career with the Reds has been full of them.

For example, Bruce has never choked a woman.

He’s failed to be arrested for non-payment of child support, a concealed weapon or DUI. He’s never done time for tax evasion. Jay Bruce has never been fined for driving 93 mph. He’s failed to be sued for rape or accused of throwing rocks at his girlfriend’s head.

To be brutally candid, when it comes to trouble with the law, Jay Bruce has been a complete flop. Heck, he didn’t even get caught shoplifting t-shirts.

In terms of being a bad clubhouse guy, Bruce again has been a no-show. Jay Bruce has never complained about not making enough money. He hasn’t shown the ingratitude of calling his team’s owner a liar. Bruce hasn’t dictated the Reds play him in a certain position or hit in a preferred spot in the batting order. He’s never criticized a teammate or the training staff or put his own interest ahead of the team’s well being. Jay Bruce hasn’t been in a locker room fight with a teammate or his manager. He’s never used an injury as an excuse for a lack of production.

With regard to league punishment, Jay Bruce’s track record is also riddled with nonperformance. Bruce has never been suspended for gambling or PED use or for fighting during a baseball game. He hasn’t been banned from baseball. He’s only twice been ejected from a game.

Finally, in his relationship with the media and fans, Bruce has been a washout when it comes to petulance and indecency. Jay Bruce has never confronted a beat writer with a torrent of personal insults and profanity. He hasn’t refused to talk to the local media because of something they wrote or didn’t write about him. Not once has he criticized Reds fans for lacking enthusiasm. Jay Bruce has never been vulgar on a radio show. Bruce hasn’t thrown a ball into the stands in anger injuring a fan. Believe it or not, Jay Bruce has no record of sending profane messages through Twitter to fan groups.

Thankfully, he’s never committed the mortal sin of walking too much.

Come to think of it, in the nine seasons he has worn the Cincinnati Reds uniform, Jay Bruce has without exception behaved in a professional, first-class manner.

(It’s necessary to add an aside here about evaluating the character of public figures. Fans and media types think we know the true nature of athletes based on the brief glimpses we’re allowed of their behavior. Too often, sports analysts rush to say so-and-so is a “great guy” based on a round of golf together, support for charities or the granting of an interview. But we’re really in no position to judge that person’s real makeup.)

That said, based on what we’ve witnessed, Jay Bruce has been an impeccable representative of the organization.

That is the litany of Jay Bruce’s negatives. On the other side of the balance sheet, he has a few accomplishments worth mentioning.

Jay Bruce has hit more home runs in Great American Ball Park than any other player. He has hit more home runs than any other National League batter since 2009 and more RBI than any other National Leaguer since 2010. He is only the sixth Reds player in the club’s storied history with 200 home runs and 1000 hits. (h/t Joel Luckhaupt)

Jay Bruce hit two home runs in one game against Clayton Kershaw. He hit a dramatic, game-winning homer off Phillies ace Roy Halladay during the season Halladay would win the NL Cy Young award.

Jay Bruce has been a multiple-time All-Star, multiple-time Silver Slugger and a three-time Rawlings Gold Glove finalist.

Bottom line, Jay Bruce has been a great player.

In light of this lopsided ledger, where does the mixed narrative about Jay Bruce come from? Why hasn’t he won over fans in the way his record and manner indicate he should?

Two factors are at play. And one of them isn’t related to unfair nightly criticism from a certain Reds radio broadcaster.

Bruce2 copyJay Bruce has been a victim of unreasonable expectations created by his own minor league performance. The Reds drafted Bruce in the summer of 2005 and by the end of 2007, the young outfielder from Beaumont, Texas was regarded as the consensus #1 prospect in baseball. Such was the lore surrounding Jay Bruce that even casual fan understood this, not just the prospect hounds. We were guilty of stargazing.

By the time of his much-anticipated debut on May 27, 2008 our hope for Jay Bruce had reached fever pitch. Bruce went 3-3 (plus two walks) that night. The Reds won. The Bruce hype train accelerated on its well-greased tracks.

I’ll confess that my adoration of Jay Bruce the player began that night. I was at GABP, fortunate to have a ticket in close proximity to the Reds on-deck circle. Before the game started, I spied Bruce swinging a bat in the camera well at the home-plate end of the Reds dugout. I took a chance, reached down and slapped my ticket against the wall and asked him to sign it. He obliged, moments before that first of his many hits for the Reds.

We wanted – no, we expected – Jay Bruce to be a perennial MVP candidate. He’s fallen short of that. As I’ve written, in our yearning Jay Bruce was 50 percent better than league average. A big chunk of fans have had trouble with the reality that he’s only been 20 percent better.

But even in that context, I’m not sure I agree with the conventional wisdom that Jay Bruce hasn’t won over Reds fans.

Do people go to the park to see him play?

I do.

And judging by the number of young fans – as well as the not-so-young ones – who wear his name and #32 on t-shirts and jerseys, so do others.

I go to see that cannon fastened to his left shoulder, the way he patrols right field in my team’s ballpark and that smooth, easy power at the plate. Jay Bruce is one Reds player you can count on to hustle every time he hits a ground ball.

And, of course, there was this.

Like thousands of other fans, I lingered in the delirium that September night to celebrate with the team from the stands. That group of hungry players, clad in postseason t-shirts and hats and drenched by various carbonated beverages was as elated as could be. The picture taking, backslapping, hugs and high-fives with fans seemed like it would never end. And not a single person wanted it to.

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Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

If one image could embody the 2010 and 2012 NL Central championships, it is Jay Bruce’s raised arm. Not the first-pitch home run off Tim Byrdak per se. That raised arm. That gesture became the exclamation point, punctuating the end of a painful 15-year drought. For me, and many others I suspect, it was a flashbulb memory.

At the time, Jay Bruce was 23 years old. Of the Reds current roster, only Jose Peraza is younger now than Bruce was that night.

Why the ledger of Bruce’s “failures” and accomplishments right now?

Because sadly, our days of watching Jay Bruce play in a Cincinnati Reds uniform are coming to an end. As is BRUUUUUUUUCE!!

One more home stand after the All-Star break to cheer for Bruce, if we’re lucky. Get to the park. Watch and appreciate Jay Bruce’s homegrown talent and class while you can.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 92 Comments

  1. I don’t want Bruce in any other uniform.He wants to be a RED! I wish we could keep him and give up some one else but I know the plan is to trade him while his stock is high.(sigh)

  2. Jay Bruce has been my favorite Red since the day he came up. I was on the other side of the world the day he debuted, but I was up at 8 a.m. following the game via ESPN. That’s something I’ll always remember. I saw him hit three home runs against the Cubs at GABP, and my heart still gets pumping when I think about that 2010 walkoff (and, in my head alone, his 2012 walkoff to beat the Giants in the NLDS).

    The first few paragraphs of this column hit on the intangible reasons why he’s been my Reds hero for so long. I like good guys, and Bruce has never had an inkling of controversy attached to his name. I respect his talent, but more importantly, I respect him as a person, when so many others have disappointed me.

    • That AB against the Giants in the 2012 NLDS was excellent. He hung in and hung in, then just missed hitting that walkoff that’s in your head. After he flew out and Rolen came to the plate, I knew it was over. For a moment there though, I thought Jay was going to do it like he did in 2010.

  3. Jay Bruce is a great guy by all accounts and a good baseball player. His career line shows above average in certain metrics, average in others. The question that must be answered is “does Jay Bruce’s performance on the field warrant the kind of money it will take to keep him around?”. Amidst a rebuild no less. The answer for me is clearly no.

    • And that is why you sell high

    • I am in your camp, so-to-speak. Good guy, but you can have a team full of good guys and lose 110 games. That means little. Obviously a team of only jerks and law-breakers, no matter how much they win, would be disconcerting, but most teams have a nice balance of them and if Bruce is traded, the Reds will still have “good guys”.

  4. But why so seemingly stubborn to learn to hit the ball the other way against the shift? I think that perceived stubbornness soured some like me who saw a really good player who could have been great.

    • Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t as easy as fans think to alter your swing at the major league level.

      • Not according to Marty! Case closed. 🙂

      • Hitting a baseball is one of the most difficult things in the world…..let alone “tweaking” how one hits a baseball

        • Sort of why does Billy so stubbornly hit the ball in the air for easy outs? Playing this game isn’t as easy as it looks, except maybe when Joey is at bat and in his zone.

        • Regarding Billy, he has actually be able to lower his FB% from 37.8% last year to 30.9% this year. Modest progress.

      • Jeremy, give me a break. A professional hitter can alter his swing, approach, stance, etc and easily correct pulling everything in site. Oh, they’ll still be a few nasty pulls of pitches way outside for weak grounders, but by seasons end, the percentages will be quite different.

        If you pull 70% of hits to right 1/3 of field, just reducing that to 60% might be enough to call off the shift. It’s not like a hitter has to hit EVERYTHING up the middle or to opposite field.

        I could coach a midget league kid to hit it where it’s pitched. I know, I HAVE. It’s not rocket science. Your bat has to be parallel to the front of the plate for one thing, not already angled to pull side, you should also connect with the ball slightly in front of the plate and not roll your hands over until you’ve clear the plate (and made contact with the ball). One should be able to improve on this in just a few days. Bringing it to live pitching in real games can sometimes bring back bad habits, but over time (weeks, month or two) the swing and approach will be changed substantially with only moderate effort and practice.

        My take is Jay felt, hey, I hit 25 or 30 HRs, the rest of the ABs don’t matter. I am a POWER hitter. Woo-hoo. Why practice? Why ask for help? If I was the coach, I would have dropped him to 7th or 8th in the order for a few weeks, making sure he knew why (you move back up when you stop pulling outside pitches). If that didn’t work, I would bench him, note his pulling everything is hurting the team, even with the sporadic HR.

        If a kid can learn, I feel confident a “professional” player can learn too. I don’t care if the pitcher is Clayton Kershaw, you can still fix pulling outside pitches and improve pitch recognition.

        • Respectfully, that midget little leaguer wasn’t hitting 90 mph sliders the other way. Margins for error reduce with each level of advance. At some point your physical and mental limitation is exposed. By your assessment every hitter should be hitting .400 or higher and every pitcher should have a zero ERA by correcting their weaknesses.

          Joey Votto worked hard to become a good hitter. But so did Jay Bruce. Votto didn’t learn how to recognize pitches from scratch, he made his baseline outstanding recognition a little better with practice. His predisposed makeup permitted it. There is no amount of practice that will make Jay Bruce into something he isn’t. Ask Michael Jordan, whose hands bled from batting practice.

          Jay Bruce is a pull hitter. He’s not Tony Gwynn. He’s not Sean Casey. And a little tweak here and there is possible. But a massive overhaul of your swing mechanics is excessively risky and I suspect almost never fruitful.

      • Oh, and the best method for fixing a problem is repetition. You pitch Bruce 100 balls on outside of plate and no matter the result (weak grounder, pop up) you make sure that it was hit where it was pitched. If he pulls one, you stop and remind him, “hey, you’re trying to make a right turn from the left lane…STOP THAT”. Go to video if necessary, find out if he is opening up hips too quickly (trying to get extra power), are his hands out front of the bat, equal to or trailing it? Is his stance too open?

        Have him take half-swings…ie don’t follow through, more like a check swing through the plate. You’ll rarely pull an outside pitch doing that. Once he sees his check swings can produce line drives and a few HRs to opposite field, maybe it will click and the “stubborn” switch will deactivate and then the final change completes. I think too many hitters think, if I don’t pull it, I won’t have power. A strapping lad the size of Bruce doesn’t need to over swing or pull everything to have power left over.

        • It isn’t that easy. These guys practice hitting the ball the other way all the time. Every time they take batting practice. I used to do it, and can still step into the cage and ‘hit it where it is pitched’ all day long. Well, until I get tired. And I never even played MiLB ball. Doing in the game though, against high-quality pitching, is another matter entirely. “Half-swings” aren’t going to cut it. A lot of guys can’t even spoil pitches against such a high level of pitching talent, let alone drive the ball with authority the other way, at will.

    • I’ll trade you Carlos Gomez for Bruce and be content with Jay’s lackluster 19 HRs and 62 rbis at the All star break.

    • By the discredited eye test, he has been hitting the other way more often this year. The trouble is that he’s not the only actor in the drama: I expect that pitchers, with Bruce up and the shift on, try to avoid throwing pitches that are easily hit to the opposite field.

  5. Bruce and I shared the same favorite player, Junior. Now that Junior is in Cooperstown, I’ve gladly accepted Bruce as my replacement for ‘fav’ and despite the fact he hasn’t paced like a HOF player, he has been a tremendous asset to the Reds organization on and off the field.

  6. If the chatter is to be believed, Jay could net more than he would have at any time in the past two years. It’s like he’s peaking for the sake of the return for his Redlegs.

    One thing is for sure, this has to be a bat for bat trade at it’s most fundamental.

  7. Bruce is my favorite Red too, and I hope he can have another chance to clinch a playoff related game for the Reds! (I was there that night – the best baseball atmosphere I had witnessed until playoff game against Giants a couple years later.)

  8. It’s a repeat of last year when we all wanted Johnny Cueto to stay in a Reds uniform but the time for an extension had passed. I will miss Jay Bruce as a player and representative of the Reds, but the adage to trade high is here and the Reds are in rebuild mode.

    • Not really…Cueto was 3 months away from UFA and a huge payday the Reds….and perhaps 23 other teams…. couldn’t afford. Bruce is signed through next year at a reasonable rate. The Reds could very likely afford Bruce after 2017….they seemingly don’t think he’s worth what they may have to pay.

      • More likely the front office realizes Bruce is the only asset they have left that can return any real value. Bailey and Mesoraco are not healthy. If a team was willing to take Votto’s contract the Reds would not receive high value in return, plus Votto has a full no-trade clause. Phillips would not return any real value if he could be moved and Cozart is not dynamic enough offensively to bring back any high prospects.

        That leaves Bruce as the only real trade chip.

      • Not really…Really? My little blurb wasn’t mentioning Cueto three months from leaving but long before that when an extension might have been worked out. Make your own comment and leave reference to mine go by the board – OK?

  9. Jay Bruce is my wife favorite player and I hope he finishes his career with the Reds. Unfortunately the rational part of me understands the reasoning for the trade talk and the presumed inevitability of Jay playing for someone else in the near future. I hope that Reds fans will appreciate all of his good qualities when he has moved on.

  10. Great article Steve. The day that Jay Bruce signed his team-friendly extension with the Reds I bought a Jay Bruce jersey. I knew that I was going to be able to root for my favorite Red for a long time, and it felt great.

    The ironic thing is that while so many fans and broadcasters talk about how streaky Bruce is, the thing that really stands out about his career is his consistency. He’s never led the league in HR or RBI, but he’s always up near the top, so that if you look at a group of years in a row as Steve did, he always comes out looking great. Most guys don’t put up numbers like he does year after year. (Also, 3rd most HRs against left handed pitching by any batter since 2010).

    Bruce leaving will really be the end of an era of the Reds to me. I’m really glad there are articles like this that highlight all the great things he’s done, because it has been a sad era in some ways due to the constant negativity around the Reds’ best players. I think guys like Chris Welsh and Brantley do a much better job, but both of the Brennamen seem to think that their ratings are dependent on trashing the best Reds.

    Maybe they are, I’m not a radio producer.

    What I can say, after living in Boston for 5 years and now the Bay Area for 10 is that it isn’t the way other teams’ media talk about their best players. At times, Jay Bruce has been discussed on Reds’ air with open disgust. That, to me, is a shame.

    I’ll also always remember this: after an entire season of saying Brandon Phillips was the MVP of the Reds in 2013, the day that Jay Bruce passed him in RBI in September, Thom said, “you know, Jay Bruce has really been the MVP of this team.” I wonder if he even knew why he said it.

  11. Good read, Steve. That picture is currently the background image on my computer, and while I admit to being unfairly critical of Bruce in the past, this year has been a joy to watch him play well. I imagine the 2010 walkoff HR will be my favorite Reds moment for years to come.

  12. When expectations aren’t met, fans focus on what wasn’t vs what was. By most reasonable accounts, Bruce was one of the better Reds over the past 40 years.

    In 2007, I thought Jay Bruce would be Mike Trout…..before there was a Mike Trout. I, at times, was frustrated that he wasn’t what I thought he would be. For much of his time here, I failed to appreciate what he was.

    That doesn’t mean he was a perfect player or lacked flaws…..there were prolonged stretches where he absolutely sucked… but, I failed to appreciate how good he was because he wasn’t as good as I thought he would be.

    I hope he wins a WS.

  13. This article elicited a lot of emotion from me. I was born in 1992. I’ve loved baseball my whole life, but the Reds never gave me much to pull for outside of Larkin, Casey and Junior. As a child, I loved McGwire and the awe he inspired in the late 90s. In my early teen years, I jumped on the Red Sox wagon hoping to see them Reverse the Curse. After ’04, my allegiance to them waned and I began to pick up on the Reds solely. Adam Dunn was awesome. Aaron Harang was awesome. Austin Kearns had his moments. BP was easy to pull for in the mid 2000s as well.

    But I believe I’m a Reds fan for life because of that 2010 team and what it showed me this city and team could be. And I attribute about 90% of that to Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. This article drills home what it means to me to be a Reds fan. Jay Bruce’s blast against the Astros that 2010 night is a defining moment in my baseball fanhood. I’m 100% on board with trading Bruce. It has to be done so we can have more moments like that with different heroes. But even if he plays 15 more years for 29 other teams, that picture, with his arm held high while he’s still in the batter’s box, will always be Jay Bruce to me. Thanks for this.

  14. You summed up so well why he has been my favorite current Red for several years. Rolen was another favorite but he came to the Reds late in his well-established career. We got to see Jay Bruce grow up as a ballplayer right here. I will also miss him when he’s gone but I won’t stop rooting for him.

  15. This type of article is your bread-and-butter, Steve. Fantastic read.

  16. Nice stuff, Steve. A lot of what was said in the first couple paragraphs could be said for the Reds other trade chip as well. Zack Cozart has always been a professional and has been under appreciated. I will miss them both, but time marches on and their time as Reds is most likely coming to an end.

  17. Thanks for the post. It was great fun to watch the YouTube clip and see how many players I could recognize in the home plate celebration.

  18. All the sentiments expressed in this wise and timely article, are all reasons to sign Jay Bruce to an extension. Exercise the option and add 3 years. That will take Bruce through to the 2017 to 2020 seasons. It now creates the new window of opportunity. It also establishes another cornerstone from which to make this re-build around.
    Votto and Bruce. Add in Duvall and BHam. And now the Reds have to decide what 4 other position players will be deciding factors in this re-build. Peraza certainly is in the mix. Barnhart should be in a C platoon, but with who? Will that be Mesoraco? That cannot be counted on.
    A Bruce extension should be central to the re-build. Bruce could easily move to LF too.

    • Let’s assume that Bruce would accept a 3 year-45 million extension….unlikely, but let’s pretend. In 18′, 19′, 20’….the aggregate salaries for Votto, Bailey and Bruce would average 63 million. They supposedly lost money last year with about 2.5 million in attendance and a 112 million ( ish) payroll.

      Let’s assume 120 million is a likely, sustainable payroll figure for those years. Can they win…. in a sustainable way….with those 3 taking over 50% of payroll? Perhaps….but they would have zero flexibility and no margin for error.

      • That is one man’s narrowed minded view. Cry me a payroll river. The Reds “supposedly” lost money last year?? Where is your proof of that?? Your proof that you rely on are only insinuations. Nothing of substance you can offer as proof of that. But you throw it out as a fact.
        They should have bank rolled about $50M from last season and this season. Crying poor when MLB is awash in more $$$ than ever before is one sad sack routine.
        And a 3 year extension on Bruce would be about $55-$60M after the option year.

        • I believe it comes from a Forbes article on the value/profitability of all the MLB teams.

          Since the Reds are privately owned, however, they aren’t compelled to release their actual financial statements. As such, I wouldn’t believe that any team’s owner actually lost money. Perhaps they “operated at a loss,” but that’s very, very different from the actual owner (who IS the team, financially speaking) losing money. Creative bookkeeping is at the core of it all.

        • You seem to lack even a modest understanding of the business of baseball. You spend a lot of time creating trades that sometimes make baseball sense, but no business sense.

          You seem to operate from a place that the Reds have no financial limitations and that any/all moves should be evaluated solely on their baseball merit. That isn’t how the world works.

          The Reds are likely going to trade Jay Bruce…in part, because they likely believe that Winker can give them 80% of the production for 5% of the price. The Reds won when Bruce, Votto, Bailey, Cueto, Leake, Chapman, Frazier Etc….made a fraction of their current cost. Their production value was much greater than the cost. The Pirates have experienced the same benefit of late….and that is coming to a close rather shortly.

          Money matters…a lot. It is very difficult to have sustained success when 3 guys take up 60% of your payroll.

  19. Well, first, there’s always going to be the first for this and most for this. Babe Ruth has hit more HR’s than any other Yankee. But, I don’t believe the Yankees are going to call on him very soon. I mean, even if someone has been “the most recent”, there does come a time that they have simply lost it and you need to move on. So, all of that talk isn’t as important as it sounds. Some importance, yes, but a great importance.

    You are correct, though, Bruce’s minor league success didn’t do him any favors with the expectations in the major leagues. I mean, if you consider, Bruce with the Minor League POY award when he was on the same team with Votto, and Bruce won the award (the year before Votto came in 2nd in the ROY award), Bruce’s expectations would be high.

    But, reaching the major leagues, having success can be different here for some. And, Bruce is a typical example of it. Bruce has still had some success, just not what his minor league numbers have shown.

    What gets to many is Bruce’s lack of adjustments. At all levels, and especially at this level, a lot of the “game” is making adjustments. Such as, as soon as the league learns how to pitch to you and makes their adjustments, then you need to make an adjustment back. Then the league adjusts back, and so on. Bruce seemingly made no adjustments for his first 8 years in the league. High K rate? Still keeping that long loopy swing. 2 straight years of horrible batting, then he finally makes an adjustment? A vast majority would make an adjustment after a season, probably much quicker than that.

    But, the simple adjustment Bruce has made this season, holding his hands lower, shortening his swing, has shown obvious improvement, obvious at least to me. He’s on track to K the fewest number of times since 2008. He’s on pace to have a personal season high in HR’s. With RBI’s, in previous seasons where he’s, for lack of better word, “struggled” (I said it wasn’t a good word here) to get 100+ RBI’s (he’s only reached it once, with 2 OBP league leaders in front of him, fell just short twice), he’s on pace to easily have a season high with that. He already has a career season high in triples. His SLG is higher than each previous season. And, I’m seeing him hitting to all fields.

    In short, for me, if we can afford it, from what I’ve seen, I could even understand extending Bruce now. I’d still probably trade him, this season. But, I could understand extending him now.

    • Are you saying Bruce has changed his swing based in your eye test? Or has this been written about somewhere? His swing, to me, looks identical to the way it has always looked.

      • Video from back in 2010, I believe. Look how high his hands are waiting for the pitch:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_zvn1jimBE

        Video from this year:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfZAugU3FHM

        I can see a difference. In these, most notably, he seems to be bent more in the legs. I believe he has been trying to hold his hands lower, also, not so far back, not using that loopy swing nearly as much, allowing him to be able to get some balls the opposite way. May be hard to see in single videos.

  20. I think memories of the Big Red Machine make it hard for the newer players and clubs to get their own identity. It’s kind of hard to compare to those years and even 40 years later, that shadow is still there. Unfortunately unlike the late 80s good clubs that won in 1990 this period didn’t get a World Series ring to cap it off.

    I’d think Jay Bruce is in that same boat somewhat, as expectations was that he would have an MVP type year, which never happened. I think that knee injury and rushing back from it probably derailed him for a good while and it’s only this season that he seems to have adjusted.

    At some point probably 10-12 years from now out unless something serously changes, I would imagine Jay Bruce will become a member of the Reds Hall of Fame.

    That said, his contract is still good for his production and if they could extend it a couple more years, it probably would be worth doing unless they can get a pretty good haul for him. Either way could work out fine.

  21. No comment.

  22. WV is so right above: “Exercise the option and add 3 years”

    Unfortunately, the front office was asleep at the wheel all off-season.. That would have been a nice bump to get him signed then and made the franchise more valuable, fans believe in the future and as WV says, something to build around. You can always trade him before 10/5 occurs and then that trade becomes even more valuable IF you have to trade him.

    I mean, wasn’t walter reading all of my posts saying that Jay Bruce had a 40 HR season in him?

    • Excellent take, Steve. I am here to agree with Reaganspad.

      My own story is this: lifelong Reds fan growing up in Dayton. Big Red Machine era (1970-1978) I was 18-26. Lived in Dayton/Cincinnati until ’92 (Nasty Boy World Series was an out-of-the-blue bonus). Work took me away for 16 years. My wife and I were able to work out a return home via our two employers in 2007. She moved to Cincinnati in fall of 2007. The housing crisis left me behind for seven months. We finally sold the house and closed on May 25., 2008. I was able to finally get back home Memorial Day weekend that year. As a welcome home present, my wife got me tickets to my beloved Reds. I was in the stands for Jay Bruce’s debut. Of course, I love Jay Bruce. I felt I was back for a run, and in a sense, I was: 2010, 2012, 2013. It didn’t work out. Bruce is still 29 … peaking. Let’s keep him around to show the kids how to be a professional, how to be a Red. Extend + 3 years would be fine with me.

    • I thought it was you who said that. I think you said 40 HR and 120 RBI. I said that I loved Bruce but if he got those numbers I’d buy you a steak dinner (assuming you eat steak). Still don’t think he’ll get there (especially the 120 RBI) but there is a chance!

  23. The way this FO has performed this year I am not convinced they are competent enough to even pull off a trade. If they do, I wouldn’t be surprised if we end with a bag of peanuts for Bruce.

  24. Isn’t it great when we can finally judge a player based upon his on-field performance and nothing else. None of those bad things you mentioned in the article. So since all we have to judge Bruce by is his on-field performance maybe the reason some fans haven’t fully appreciated him is his inconsistency. Now, that being said, I am not saying that Bruce hasn’t had some good seasons for us bcuz he has, there’s no taking that away from him. I am eternally grateful for those years. But we can’t deny that he is or maybe, was prone to cold streaks of varying lengths. Most of them seemed to last forever. Last season was the bottom of the barrel for Bruce and for me being a fan of him. I wanted to like Bruce but his long cold streaks took it out of me. So, I was all for Bruce being traded. He was the ONLY Reds player that I WANTED to go at the start of this rebuild. In other words I wish there wasn’t a rebuild and that we still had the 2010-2013 team but maybe minus Bruce. BUT! Something changed in Bruce during last off-season and he’s come back having potentially the best and most consistently good season of his career (so far-knock on wood). And it kinda sucks that he’ll likely be traded now. But if he does get traded I’ll be a little sad but not devastated. Mostly, I’ll be worried about our teams future offense or seeming lack thereof. With Bruce and Cozart gone our only big boppers left will be Duvall and Votto. Maybe Mesoraco can come back knocking the cover off the ball. Suarez has some pop but not much else at this point.

  25. Great read! Personal. Memorable. Passionate.

    • Agree totally. Love Jay Bruce. I think people forget how young he is….Cozart and Frazier are older. He has had a great year and will be in the Reds HOF….my only critique would be his slumps were bad…really really bad.

  26. Jay did not hit on a supermodel either. It’s not well known but Kate Uptom was doing a MLB event when she met Justin, and he was there with Jay.

  27. Great article. You put into words what I have always felt about Bruce. He genuinely seems to be a good guy off the field and always hustles on the field. Never complains. I just wish he could stay and be a part of that 2018 team. I don’t think there will be a better outfielder in the Reds outfield then.

  28. I will miss Jay Bruce if he is traded,as I have missed Todd Frazier. Personally I don’t understand the wisdom of the higher ups.Baseball is about family and fan base and tho I like to win I want to do it with a team of straight up guys playing hard. I’ve been a Reds fan forever it seems, when a lot players came thru Geneva , New York. I’m not sure If I will continue if it’s a completely new team even if they are winners.

    • I’m sure many fans agree with your point of view, Jack, but the objective of Major League Baseball is to win games, and hopefully important games. If the Reds are more likely to build a lasting winner by trading, they have the moral imperative to do it.

  29. I like Jay Bruce. I’d like for him to stay with the Reds.

  30. People mention the Big Red Machine years. Do any of you have any idea how badly Johnny Bench was BOOED on occassions (like in 1971, and other times too)? There was one time he was being booed so badly and insulted at the plate, that he whirled around and gave some fan the bird when he was at home plate.

    Jay is a great guy, on and off the field. No, he won’t be extended. He can bring in a valuable player with the right trade (I’m thinking he ends up with the Indians). I hope wherever he ends up, he gets a shot at the playoffs and World Series.

    Cheer for Jay, even after he goes on to another team. He’s worth cheering for.

    • I am too young to ever remember Bench being booed (I was born in 1970) but my dad told me all about it. Crazy!

  31. Wait a minute….seems the Reds traded another left handed hitting RF at age 29 awhile back who was frustratingly inconsistent at times but very good who then became one of the all time great Yankees. Stop the presses. We can’t risk another Paul O’Neill. He was pretty darn good for 7 more years. If the Reds are to win, its the 1990 formula, a collection of talent of pitching, hitting ,youth, vets, defense speed power on base……Don’t trade Paul O’neill again.

  32. I’ve certainly enjoyed watching Bruce play. He’s hit some memorable home runs that were fun moments for me. Nice article.

    I’m also thankful that Bruce has decided to rebound his trade value for us. I’m hoping the Reds can swing a useful bat here soon. Just another reason to appreciate Jay.

  33. Jay Bruce is absolutely the type of player who could be a starter on a championship team. We’re not that team anymore. Trade him somewhere where he has a shot to win and hope to get some good prospects back.

    • This notion does make trading JB32 more palatable to me. The guy deserves a shot at what I suspect could be the most exciting 2 weeks in sports: Jay Bruce on fire in October.

      I’d root for him with any team’s jersey on in that scenario.

  34. We better get some real pitching for this Golden Glover, not just a few prospects. I mean, we got that in spades. We gave away Chapman, we gave away Johnny Beis-bul, we gave away Mike Leake. Ownership here has been around the block a time or two, over in St. Louis. They know what it takes, but they either haven’t let the GM do it, or he doesn’t know how to do it. Either way, it’s an indictment of the front office, not the manager or a coach here and there. This downturn started with the firing of Dusty—from that point on, it was a series of rearranging the deck chairs. Wake me up after they’ve sold the team; I don’t think they have a clue, and it’s very painful to watch.

    • They didn’t “give away” those players, Arthur. They traded less than half-a-season of Cueto and Leake for 4 pitchers and Adam Duvall, in aggregate.

      They had already decided they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) re-sign those pitches, so trading them is a 100% correct move in that situation. No one was given away.

      • I agree. It wasn’t exactly a giveaway. I mean, Cueto for 3 good lefthanded prospects? That’s a trade I would have possibly taken with a full year or more of Cueto left.

        What I don’t like is how the FO positioned us with having to lose Simon, Leake, Cueto, and Latos all within a season of each other. And, having all of these young stud “starting” pitchers. It almost seems like first on Jocketty’s list was getting the next Carpenter or Wainwright. While a good idea, not a very good idea when the rest of the team suffers while you find that player.

        • And Carpenter was already a pretty good pitcher when StL got him! I agree with you.

  35. Thank you, Steve. This is why I read Redleg Nation! Spread the Word.

  36. Hey, I am notorious Bruce basher the past few years. I was a Bruce backer before then.
    He appears to have actually worked on his hitting this offseason, taking his job seriously and is hitting as one would have expected when viewing him 4 years ago. Also, nice job avoiding prolonged streaks of bad with short streaks of good between. Kudos to Bruce.

    I just hope the Reds trade him sooner, rather than later. If they wait right up till deadline, what if he suddenly has “shoulder numbness” or tweaks a hamstring, etc. I also hope (futile, I know) that the GMs will seek a high ceiling, top 3 or 4 prospect and not a collection of prospects just outside a teams top 10.

    Also, while I appreciate him trying to fix his weaknesses (what took so long Jay?) I don’t want to fall for it and extend him, unless it’s some VERY affordable deal. They will take a step back in RF in hitting dept, for sure, but he’ll be declining when the Reds are TRULY contending (that ain’t next year given what we’ve seen this year from the team and pitching).

  37. Steve, I disagree with calling Bruce a “great player” over his career. I think we simply disagree about what great is. I am not sure he has even had one great season, much less a great career.

    We can all agree Bruce has been, even with his horribly prolonged slumps, a net positive for the Reds. How far one pushes him up the positive scale will depend on logical reasoning versus emotional reasoning and a balance of the two. His good guy image (and seeming reality) might add to Bruce the person, but doesn’t change production and this is where I focus, on mildly above average career production, with a couple of good years and a couple of mediocre years balancing things out.

    Steve lays out the good guy Bruce should be a great player because no flashing blue lights have ever been in the background of his photos.

    I don’t include that when checking a player, on a person.

    Bruce the person, sure, seems great, don’t know the guy myself. Give him a ‘A’ here if you want. No information other than a lack of bad information, to make an argument.

    Bruce the player, solid, some times good, some times mediocre, rarely great. I have stats and comparisons against peers to back that up…unless great applies to 30+ OFs, Bruce isn’t great (though he is trying to be great THIS year…he might make it in my book…if he can keep average over .270 and keep producing on a mediocre hitting team).

    • …and yes, that is only MY opinion. Others may have more value placed on their opinions…so be it. Steve takes the time to write stories and create topics that we get to read and debate. I can see if no one here values my opinion over Steve’s…no feelings hurt. Flame away Bruce lovers…I can take the heat. I like the 2016 version of Bruce, just mad he took this long to adapt and live up to his ability.

      Likable, but frustratingly inconsistent…that is how I would describe my Bruce feelings. Others disagree (on both ends of the scales).

      • He’s a slugger who started his career amidst the steroid era and his ascension to slugging consistency directly correlates with MLB implementation of drug testing. Literally since the day testing was started he has led the NL in HRs to present date. Take a historical step back and ponder that. If he produces like he has for the past 8 years “inconsistently” as you say, for the next 2, he’ll be the NL HR champ for the 1st decade of MLB in the steroid testing era!

        Is it possible that Brady Anderson dropping 50 bombs in your lifetime might be clouding your assessment?

      • No point trying to incite “flaming.” 😉 Your opinion is welcome, just like everyone else’s.

        For what it’s worth, I agree Jay Bruce has not been a “great player” when discussing only on-field productions. But if you say “player” and mean “employee,” he’s been a great player for the Reds over his tenure here.

  38. I would love to see the Reds extend Jay Bruce. The point of developing great players is to have some great players on your team. I understand Bruce’s value and if he’s traded will accept that is sensible IF the return is really solid. But since I don’t trust the front office to garner a really strong return, and since Bruce is a known and very positive quantity, I hope he’s a Red for several more years. When there are question marks about catcher, second, short and third base, Winker is still unproven and Hamilton still developing I would prefer to have one fewer big question mark on the offensive side. So thank you Steve for this farewell tribute. I’ll hope it needs to be reworked and updated in about four more years.

    • Lets hope those scouts are going to be right on Bruce’s defense not being as bad as the defensive metrics suggest.
      The other thing about a Bruce trade is the market is not shaping up in the Reds advantage yet. Some teams need a bat, but not necessarily a corner OF bat. The demand isn’t there just yet, so a good return can’t be guaranteed. The offers may come in low. A bidding war isn’t likely. The O’s, Jays, RedSox, Yanks, Tigers, Rangers, Mariners, Marlins, Cubs, Cards, and Pirates all are not in need. The Indians, Royals, WhiteSox, Nats, Mets, Giants and Dodgers possibly could be in the market. But not one team is desperate for a corner OF at this time.
      And on the other side, the supply of corner OF bats on the market may be high. Good corner OFers are possibly on the market like Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Braun, Josh Reddick, Kole Calhoun, Nick Markakis, David Peralta, and even Carlos Beltran.
      Things can change in 3 1/2 weeks, but things aren’t looking great for the Reds to get a nice player for Bruce. Looks like it might be a Jocketty special, quantity over quality, again.

      • Another consideration is if Bruce has to waive his no-trade clause to go to a specific team, he’ll likely want his option converted to a player option. That will likely be fine to the acquiring team, but as a year-and-a-half of Jay Bruce is more valuable than a half-year of Jay Bruce, the return would be lower for the Reds in that case.

  39. I’m a 58 year old reds fan we need bats in the line up I know we are rebuilding we shouldn’t trade Bruce or Phillips I’m a fan of the Texas Rangers where I’m from and the reds where I lived before I had to move to tennessee you trade Bruce my cable bill will be cheaper and I will only be buying ranger gear enough said

  40. I don’t think Jay will be around much longer, but I keep hoping we get to keep Jay for a few more years. I will never understand the hate people have for him or Votto, yet will defend BP no matter what.

  41. Great job of catching the heart of this young man. I’ve been able to follow his career starting back when travel teams were just starting. He still has his head screwed on straight and the Reds will miss him and his leadership

  42. Way to put it in perspective Steve.

    Bruce has been a credit to the Reds and the city of Cincinnati. My guess, he will be well remembered in his golden years if not appreciated sufficiently in his career with the Reds.

  43. I came to the site and read this right after I saw JB got named as an injury replacement. Happy to hear that and +100 for this article. He’s just a great team member and will be no matter where he lands.

  44. 1. Great read and very well written. Thanks for your talents.
    2. Jay Bruce has been my favorite for many years. He is a true “Reds” player. A role model that my children look up to. On the Reds or traded my family will follow him until retirement.

  45. Just a fantastic read Steve. Thank you.

  46. I am 79 yrs of age, and l think there would be no reds without Jay, l watch every game they play, and Jay almost always gets them out of a jam. I think he needs to be more reconized. He should be Reds AllStar. He loves the Reds and they should keep him, but!!!! They always let the good ones go

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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