REQUIEM for a Terrific (Soon To Be Former?) New York Met: Daniel Murphy

Since we started this blog back in October, 2012, we’ve discussed Daniel Murphy quite a bit. He kept doing things that forced us to go back, to reevaluate, and mostly to appreciate. I think Mike’s opinion has changed the most, and it’s interesting to see the difference a year makes.

These days we read the rumors. It seems like he’s on the way out the door. Not knowing the return, it’s impossible to comment in any meaningful way. Here’s some things we’ve written as our thinking on Daniel Murphy has evolved over the year:

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October 12, 2012, Jimmy:

You know, Mike, I’ve gone back and forth on Murphy all year. All those maddening dinks and dunks to LF, the lack of power, the lack of run-scoring speed on the basepaths, but essentially: most days, his offensive game did not seem to overcome his defensive liabilities. But I’ve always liked the guy, found him easy to root for, and he’s cheap (perhaps, on this team, his greatest asset). Murphy’s triple slash line of .292/.332/.403/.735 is not very impressive. But he did hit 40 doubles. What if those 6 HRs become 12? Looking at the numbers more deeply, here’s how his 2012 offensive season ranks among MLB second basemen: BA (4th), OBP (7th), SLG (9th), OPS (9). We could do worse, right?

Mike:

Well, as long he plays second base the offense is O.K.   But his fielding is plain bad.  Our expectations were all so low that when he wasn’t legendarily bad we all went, “hey”.  But let’s face it, he plays in short right field and only can turn the most rudimentary double play.  And he has no speed, to go with the very limited power.  That combination, no speed or power, is a recipe for offensive ineptitude and we have to inject speed somewhere.

On a good team he is a utility player. I keep seeing Frank Catalanotto. So I think he has some minor trade value and I don’t think I can envision a situation where we can afford to use him as a utility guy ourselves.

I like Murphy as a guy to move.

January 22, 2013, Jimmy:

We’ve seen it so many times in baseball over the years. And, frankly, we see it in the working world, too. Guys do a job reasonably well, get a raise, then another raise, then another, to the point when you finally look at him and say, “Hell, we can get somebody to do that job for half the pay.”

And the axe falls.

I wonder if that’s where things are inevitably going for Daniel Murphy.

Mike:

I would trade him because someone else who can better utilize him might trade you something that could have a higher potential ceiling. Our roster is years away from being able to maximize Murphy, and if we are waiting years for true value why not shoot for big value. In other words, trade Murphy for prospects.

Considering Murphy has now shown he can play a bad second base, he projects very well in that solid backup player market. The guy a good team knows they will need to succeed, and so they pay the price. For people who are Murphy fans, I think he will have a nice long career. As a sub.

Jimmy:

On Murphy, I believe the club is going to look up one day — maybe a year from now — and realize they have cheaper options. So they likely trade him. But I don’t agree that it’s been a mistake to hold him for 2013 — even with the raise, his trade value might increase quite a bit with a strong showing. And, hey, they’ve got to put somebody on the field. It didn’t sound like Alderson liked what he could get for Murphy in last season’s market. Waiting makes sense to me.

With minor improvements overall, I think Murphy can legitimize himself as a quality ML second-baseman, maybe even Top Ten, according to the MLB Network. Last July, there was more risk, more uncertainty. That’s the difference another good year could bring. Again, you see him as a sub and value him accordingly. But if Murphy establishes himself as a good hitting, everyday second baseman — that’s more valuable, I think.

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April 18, Jimmy:

There’s so much to like about the way he plays the game. You also have to respect the way he works — and works, and works — to address weaknesses. The glove’s not good enough? He’s out there taking grounders. Too stiff around the bag? He works on his agility. Not enough power? He changes the way his front toe points, and blam, he’s driving the ball with authority.

Mike:

I have no problem with his glove now. He is not on the field for that and he has worked hard and is not embarrassing anyone. It is getting to to the point where I rather have the ball hit to him than Tejada. That tells me a lot about both of those guys. Where Murphy is really impressing me at this early point in the season is with the bat. He is driving the ball better than he has in a long time.

Jimmy:

This is where we come back full circle and say, “The kid is a hitter, let’s find him a spot.” But maybe we need to amend that to say, “The kid is a ballplayer.”

Depending upon the overall balance of the team, Murphy might be expendable. Meaning: I don’t think he’s a guy the Mets must keep. I do think the overall left-handedness is a real team problem (a flaw that will become more acute when games actually matter), and I remain frustrated that this team neither defends nor runs well. The basics, you know. However, none of the potential fill-in guys in the system would significantly help in those departments.

If Murphy can keep up the hard-nosed play and the hitting, he might be a keeper. I think it depends on all the other pieces. But again, we’ve been all over the map on this guy in just the past six months. In the meantime, all he does is come out and play hard, and play effectively, game after game. Maybe it’s time to forget what he can’t do, and appreciate what we’ve got.

May 16, Jimmy:

I haven’t seen it mentioned quite in this way, but damn, Daniel Murphy is beginning to look like the key to the offense. He started hot and the club functioned; he got cold and it fell apart.

June 13, Mike after the incomprehensible move of Murphy to 1B instead of Duda after the Mets sent Ike Davis down to the farm:

murphy-first-baseSo forget what is best for Daniel Murphy, who works hard and gets results. A guy who was the first Mets player in nine years to give up his body at home plate to try to score a run for his team. A guy who will never be a gold glove second baseman, but who worked and worked to become a competent second baseman. Don’t worry about him. Worry about the guy who needs to go away — forever.

June 30, Mike:

I would really hate to see Murphy move on. It is so impressive how he has taken to second base, and Murphy can flat out hit.

9/25, Mike:

Before the year began I wondered if maybe Murphy was a possible trading chip. We did not blog in 2012, but I will tell you that I spent most of last year wishing Murphy away. Even then, it was not that I thought he was a bad player, not at all, but like many other people I focused too much on what he cannot do, and not enough on what he is. A hell of a baseball player.

Daniel Murphy shows up, plays hard, hits, and works. Sure, Murphy will never be a fabulous defender, but he has become so much better at second, due to that work effort. And now, in 2013, at a point in most player’s careers where what you see is all you are going to get, Murphy steals 20 bases in 23 attempts. You win championships with stars, and with players like Daniel Murphy.

October 7, Mike:

This is the second year in a row that Murphy graded out well offensively. Eric Young did drive the team’s stolen base numbers, so did Murphy, who added yet another weapon to his game. His success ratio on stolen bases was good too. My respect for Daniel continues to grow. We need more players like him.

November 6, Mike responding to a blog suggestion to “flip Murphy”:

Not crazy about flipping Murphy. We have very few solid major league players, teams that win have players like Daniel Murphy.

 Yesterday, Mike:

If Murphy gets traded in a deal that brings back actual value I can handle it. If he is given away to save money than I’m going to wonder long and hard why we signed Chris Young.

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14 comments

  1. Patrick Boegel says:

    I guess it is always the potential combination of things. But I fail to see how we trade this guy and it does not cause at best a lateral move, at worst a step back.

    One can hope to surmise 2 possible positives. Murphy’s value is so high and the Mets think so highly of Flores that he and some other player/chips net a big SS, or a pitcher. Then Flores slides in and upgrade.

    Or, teams lack heated interest in Flores and the Mets are trying to use the press to create the illusion he is going to be staying in NY cause Murphy is on the outs.

    There is a third solution, Eric Young playing 2nd base, but that is like pouring the wrong white crystal substance in your coffee. No, not that substance (or whatever one you may have been thinking). Eric Young is Kosher salt, good in doses, adds to the texture of the food, but not sweet.

  2. Michael Geus says:

    By the way, last night on SNY Andy Martino kept mentioning that one reason Murphy might be traded was that the organization does not like his approach. I guess all those hits are a problem.

    Sigh.

    Welcome to the Stepford Mets.

    • I saw that, it was insane! Martino squeaks it and nobody says boo. First he said how the Mets really, really like Josh Satin’s approach at the plate. He takes pitches, works counts. Then he talked about how the Mets are unhappy with Murphy’s approach, not enough walks, too aggressive, and on.

      And nobody says boo.

      Just when I wonder if the approach thing could get any worse, it gets worse. Now it’s an organizational philosophy — take pitches or perish!

      I take you back to the heady times of June 20th, when Ike Davis was named
      Pacific Coast League Player of the Week!

      Mike commented on the blog:

      “Want to get Dave Hudgens excited, don’t just do something, stand there. Here is his latest on Ike from last week when Davis walked twice in one night:

      “I judge [progress] more on the walks almost more than on the hits because that means he’s recognizing pitches, laying off the curveball down, laying off pitches,” said Hudgens, who has been in daily contact with his counterpart, Greer. “Obviously, I know he can hit. I want him to recognize pitches so he lays off pitches he shouldn’t swing at.”

      If Ike ever wants to get promoted he better put that bat down!”

      And I replied:

      “As I type this, the Mets have the lowest BA in all of baseball and, call me crazy, but I believe the corporate approach has something to do with it.”

      Yet here we go, trying to ship out Murphy because he’s got the wrong approach. Doesn’t fit the mold. Isn’t a robot.

      They can’t non-tender a guy like Justin Turner and be done with it. No, these creeps — these dirtbags — have to whisper about his lack of hustle. Now with Martino, we know he wants that job with SNY. He’s so ambitious you can see it on his face, he’ll say anything they want. So now we have to hear about Daniel Murphy not buying into the approach. It’s gross, embarrassing, shameful, antiquated, idiotic.

      • W.k. kortas says:

        So many organizations have talked themselves into the notion that getting into deep counts is an end in itself; being selective is good, if it’s about laying off the pitch you can’t do anything with and driving the pitch you can drive, but it’s not something you do for its own sake. I don’t know why the Mets seem to be hell-bent on getting rid of Murph; he’s a good hitter you can plug into a bunch of spots. In a way, he’s like a Hubie Brooks or a Joe Orsulak–guys with warts who aren’t stars and seem like a dime a dozen, but a guy you really miss when all of a sudden you don’t have one.

        • Patrick Boegel says:

          I think the problem is, this “talk” makes sense when you are drafting players who seem to succeed at this, that being pitch recognition and working the count to your favor (which by the way, on occasion might 0-0). Not surprisingly many of these guys tend to be good hitters, not good walkers, but as an attribute of their ability to hit, recognize when it makes no sense to swing.

  3. RAFF says:

    You missed one- These IDIOTS! What better way to depress a player’s value in the trade market than by talking about his flat sides and letting the world know that you’d really rather be rid of him? These unctuous bastards are so damned full of themselves and so self satisfied at the positive ego strokes they get by seeing their tawdry whisper-campaigns in print. It’s hard to believe that we are dealing with adults. This is not how mature, decent people with solid business experience do things. These are not people I like being linked to as a fan

  4. Patrick Boegel says:

    Daniel Murphy, 280+ total bases in 2013. I don’t care if he walks to him, crawls to them or runs to them, as long he gets them.

    Logically, lets replace Murphy with Eric Young. He of the .310 OBP and 180 total bases.

    If anyone would like to kill me now, just let me know and I will text you where I work.

  5. RAFF says:

    Boegs> I just looked that stat up> Murph is- #33 in Total Bases in all of Baseball in 2013. He’s #3 ranked 2nd Baseman – behind Cano & Pedroia. My 36 hour “F*CK IT- Let’s Have Fun In Flushing” Celebration is over. It’s Back to “WTF, These Are The Mets” I’d be happy to end your misery for you, but I’m Already Dead… Sorry

    • Look, don’t kill yourself. It’s still only Daniel Murphy, and I say that with great affection for the player. He’s one of the few emotional guys on the team, too, there’s fire there. But Mike’s assessment is not wrong: He’d make a great, 400-AB super sub for a good team.

      The strange thing is the vibe is that Sandy is TRYING to trade Murphy. As if he were Ike Davis. And the reality seems to be that there’s not a strong market, especially now that he’ll be close to $6 million. So this feels like a salary dump. I also wish that attendant to any of this was a single positive comment about Wilmer Flores, which I’m just not hearing. I could embrace that idea more, the notion that Flores is young, he’s ready, he’s a RH bat.

      We will have to see what happens. Mostly, the point of the post today is to express that we like and respect Daniel Murphy. He’s popular with the fans for a reason.

  6. From the KILL ME NOW Department:

    Anthony DiComo:

    >> Though the team could draw up an Opening Day lineup with three natural center fielders in Granderson, Chris Young and Juan Lagares, one Mets official on Monday floated the idea of using Eric Young Jr. in left field, Chris Young in center and Granderson in right — an alignment that would push Lagares back to Triple-A Las Vegas. < <

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      Perhaps they are thinking of moving Lagares back to shortstop?

      That is one year gouged out with a spoon, next an ice pick to an ear drum.

  7. Alan K. says:

    Trading Murphy doesn’t appear to be motivated about getting better. It’s about getting rid of someone because he is line to make more money and because his hitting approach (which has yielded better results than most players on the team) is not consistent with Hudgens” philosophy. It’s about cheapness and micromanagement.

  8. Eraff says:

    I was Originally a Big Murph Fan—hard to dislike the guy.

    He’s a great AL combo bat…2b/1b/3b/dh….and I believe he’s eventually re-add an OF Mitt. He can play LF with just a bit of Psych work.

    He’s a good solid MLB Bat.

    Young can replace him…… bat leadoff….. solves a problem. IF Flores can play, he will.

    I’d trade Murph as part of a package for a really good prospect or a Pitching/1b solution…. heck…maybe HE is the 1b solution for 1 year…????

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      Eric Young, say it with me, is NOT a hitter let alone a leadoff hitter. He vaguely resembles one because he steals bases, but he does not reach base in any capacity, whether by hits, walks or magic fairies conjured by Hudgens, with any proficiency.

      Eric Young would be great at, taking 15-20 games at 2B, 30-35 games in RF, 15-20 games in CF, and 6 games in LF. Plus pinch hitting defensive type stuff things.

      He is what he is, an awesome role player providing versatility.

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