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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
So 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.
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.
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.