By: Mike Parchinsky

Is it Time to Recall Conforto?

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With a rousing 9-4 victory over the floundering Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets offence is seemingly becoming the force it was expected to be at the beginning of the season. The most glaring exception to this forceful entity is one of the men they brought to the team midseason to revive the lackluster offence, Jay Bruce.

Since being traded to the Mets on August 1, Bruce has been underperforming. In 77 at bats, he has just 13 hits which amounts to an abysmal batting average of just .169, hardly what the Mets expected when they traded for him. Mixed in with those 13 hits is five extra base hits, three doubles and two homeruns. To say that the organization and its fan base is disappointed is an understatement.

His woeful performance in his 21 games in the blue and orange has brought on a series of questions. Was it worth it? Why is he underperforming? And most notably, what should the team do with him?

These questions are not easily answered. It is too early in his tenure with the team to determine if the acquisition was worth the price, and his performance is dependent on a number of things and it is impossible as an outside observer to make any assumptions.

One aspect of the conundrum that is Jay Bruce that we can pose ideas and thoughts on is how the team should handle his lack of offence in a lineup that is playing quite well compared to earlier in the season.

The solution that would make the most sense, both team wise and player wise would be to recall Michael Conforto from AAA Las Vegas and send down veteran Justin Ruggiano.

In his most recent stint in the minors, Conforto is batting .520. It’s quite safe to say that he is absolutely destroying the baseball. Along with his stellar batting average, he has also hit for power. He has drilled five homeruns in addition to four doubles to amass an astounding slugging percentage of .900.

Prior to being sent down, Conforto was severely struggling. In 19 games prior to his demotion, Conforto batted just .200 with one homerun and 15 strikeouts. To all watching, it was obvious that he was in a serious funk. He did not seem comfortable at the plate and he didn’t approach at bats with the vigor and confidence you expect out of a major leaguer. His demotion came as no surprise and made sense for a young player still trying to establish himself in the league.

It would seem as if his time in the minors has given him time to work out the kinks that were holding him back from performing at the peak of his ability. There comes a point when an organization begins to fear that a player may be wasting away in the minors and using up all his hits, per say.

This would be one of those situations.

The Mets are looking to mount a serious run at the second wild card spot and the only way they can make such a run is if they have their best lineup taking the field day in and day out. That simply is not happening with Jay Bruce in the outfield. If they are serious about this run, they will call up Conforto sooner rather than later.

The rosters are expanding come September, so it is more than likely we will see Conforto in the orange and blue before the season is out, but a player that is as hot as Conforto should not be relegated to the status of a September call up. It is easy to theorize that it is most advantageous for the team to hold off just a few more days to call him up, but those few days can have devastating and everlasting effects on the ego of a young player such as Conforto.

As a baseball player, Conforto prides himself on his ability to prosper in the harshest of circumstances and garner the attention of those who have the authority to promote you. If a red hot player like Conforto, with the major league experience that he has, is relegated to the position of September call up, he will not feel as if he earned that recall. He will believe that he is being called up as a convenience to the major league ball club rather than because he has worked hard to impress the right people.

In contrast, demoting a player such as Ruggiano has nowhere near the same long lasting consequences. As an eight-season veteran, Ruggiano understands that the primary goal of a team is to win at all costs and some times that requires spending some time in the minors. He has been a journey man his entire career and this demotion would be nothing new for him. He could take it in stride as he has all of his other various travels since he joined the league in 2007.

Michael Conforto has the ability to be one of the best hitting outfielders the Mets have ever had. If they hope to use his abilities to his maximum potential and allow his skills to advance the ball club, they must be proactive and allow him to get some major league at-bats against a Phillies team that is down and out.

The team is heading into an incredibly important part of their schedule. Most of the teams they play have a winning percentage below .500, they must beat up on these teams if they hope to have any chance of making the playoffs. Both the club and Michael Conforto would benefit greatly from his promotion.

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