Dilson or Daniel?

Briefly, the song “Crimson and Clover” went through my head. I prefer the Joan Jett version, to Tommy James and the Shondells’ and in fact, would likely prefer anything Joan Jett covered. Oh, and for whatever reason I sometimes confuse / combine Tommy Dorsey and Henry James with Tommy James, even though Frank Sinatra never sang with the Shondells — though Frankie may have covered some of the same Christmas songs as the Shirelles.

Oh my, I digress … “Dilson or Daniel, over and over” … maybe it’s the Murphy/Irish thing. Get it? Clover, as in four-leaf? Yes, it’s September, I’m as shot as second-division MLB clubs, deal with it.

Anyway …

Daniel Murphy is scheduled to return from the DL today, which means there isn’t room for Dilson Herrera. That may be the best thing in the world for the New York Mets.

When we didn’t know the severity of Daniel Murphy’s calf strain, there were hints that his 2014 season could be over — especially considering Murphy’s all-out hustle, which would make him more susceptible to a re-injury if he returned too soon. As it turns out, Murphy’s back sooner than expected. Is that a good or bad thing?

For sure, the flash of Dilson Herrera we’ve enjoyed has been just that: a flash. A very small sample size. But it was enough for us to see the possibilities — like looking into a crystal ball. No doubt, the just-turned-20 Herrera has exciting defensive skills, speed to burn, and showing a bat with surprising pop, discipline, control, and clutchness (for those who don’t believe in “clutch,” pretend I mean he seems to be relaxed/calm in stressful situations).

Many Mets fans, I’m sure, would love to see more of Dilson Herrera at second base — in fact, many may have secretly wished that Murphy would be out for the year, so that Herrera could be observed for a full month. With Murphy back, no one wants to see Herrera on the bench, but, in the end, things couldn’t have worked out better for the Mets. How so?

First off, Daniel Murphy proving he’s healthy makes him more attractive as a winter trading chip. Probably, a season-ending injury to something as seemingly harmless as a calf strain shouldn’t have much effect on a player’s value in the offseason — it’s not like a hip reconstruction or an achilles tear. But, it’s a little thing that can mildly affect trade negotiations, and when a player can come back from any injury and prove to be 100% when the season ends has that much more value, and quell any concerns about a chronic issue.

Along the same lines, Dilson Herrera showing he’s near-ready for MLB makes him a much more attractive trading chip. At the same time, he wasn’t spectacular enough to put the Mets into a position where they’d be perceived to be desperate to move Murphy. That theoretically means the Mets should be able to get a bit more for Murphy than if teams knew they were itching to move him. (On the other side of that argument, of course, is that teams know the Mets want to move Murphy regardless, because of the huge pay raise due to him this winter.)

Another thing to consider is that Herrera, at a very young age, showed he could handle MLB pitching and promise in the field in a small sample size. Might his flaws become more glaring with more play at the big league level? Limiting Herrera’s exposure and cutting him off when he’s performed positively can only increase his trade value. It doesn’t hurt the Mets’ negotiation with Murphy, either, and, further, helps quell / placate the fan base in the event the Mets jettison Murphy this winter. After all, the Mets’ PR message / selling point in the Sandy Alderson era has been “homegrown” players and focusing on youth. How perfectly fitting would it be to get fans exciting about young (and cheap) Dilson Herrera at the exact moment Daniel Murphy becomes prohibitively expensive?

Even with the spirited play of Herrera, the Mets are probably a better team over the final three weeks with Murphy’s bat in the lineup. And the Mets want to win as many games as possible, so as to avoid having their first round pick protected. Wait, what? Oh, that conspiracy theory will be revealed in an upcoming post.

What’s your thought? Do you prefer to see Dilson Herrera or Daniel Murphy playing second base through the end of this season? Do you see Herrera’s performance thus far playing into the financial side of the Murphy situation in the offseason? Sound off in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. dshowerman September 9, 2014 at 8:31 am
    Play Murph. Up his trade value and go with Dilson next year.
  2. Original Met September 9, 2014 at 9:09 am
    I like the idea of Murphy returning to start at 2B – they have to do that or create a firestorm – and letting DH start maybe one or two of the remaining games at SS, with Flores sliding over to give DW a spell.
  3. Dan Capwell September 9, 2014 at 9:15 am
    Chalk it up to advancing age, I guess, but I gotta disagree, the Tommy James version of “Crimson and Clover” blows away Joan Jett’s, it is much more subtle and layered. JJ just tore into every song, which was great back then, but now as a result much of her stuff now sounds the same. I have also had Tommy’s version in my head since I saw “Blood Ties” on the tube the other day.

    I have always liked Murphy, but he symbolizes to me what is wrong with the Mets, another ill-fitting piece that does one thing well, but lacks in others. Agree that he is probably getting healthy at the right time so he can be shopped this winter for may two B+ prospects.

    • Joe Janish September 9, 2014 at 1:01 pm
      I do like the Tommy James version, but there was something about Joan Jett, when I was young, naive, and going through adolescence, that will stay with me forever. Agreed that most of her stuff sounds the same, but the way she tore into the music as you describe was the reason I enjoyed her. Raw, gritty, hard-edged, with some anger and bad-girl rebellion. For similar reasons I love Bruce Springsteen’s early work and heavy metal from the 70s and 80s.

      Oh, and agreed on Murphy. He is the poster child for the Mets’ insistence of forcing square pegs into round holes and ignoring little things.

  4. crozier September 9, 2014 at 9:44 am
    I’ve always liked Murphy, and I expect he’ll provide solid offense upon his return, which the Mets desperately need in their race for… .500 and/or third place, oh well.

    But it’s pretty clear that his era is over, and that’s fine. Even if Herrera struggles his first full year, the Mets are going to compete, eventually, with a youth movement. Lagares, d’Arnaud, and Herrera could embody that next year. Or in 2016. Or someday, I hope.

    Nice to see you revealing your musical tastes, Joe. Somewhere in my vinyl collection I have a few Joan Jett records, possibly including her CnC cover. I wouldn’t know, though, having never played the things – I admire her a lot more than I actually want to listen to her, is the thing. So I’ll have to vote for the original CnC by TJ. Having said that, I’m struggling to find the relevance here. Are you saying Herrera is an improvement over the “original”? That Herrera “covers” his area better? That he rocks, whereas Murphy sometimes plays like he’s on psychedelics? That being no-nonsense beats being vague and dreamy?

    Okay, so wait, maybe I understand you perfectly.

    • Joe Janish September 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm
      Crozier, thanks for playing. Regarding the relevance of CnC, like many artists, I prefer to hold my own thoughts of my art to myself, and let the observer feel what they feel, interpreting for his/her self. Did Don McLean ever fully explain the lyrics of American Pie?

      That said, I do like your interpretation.

  5. Bat September 9, 2014 at 11:07 am
    To the extent Herrera has played better than expected (i.e., the extra-base hits) I think he will come back to earth as teams learn and exploit his weaknesses. That is, he probably showed a nice glimpse of what he can do but he (probably) needs more seasoning before the Mets could rely on him to consistently perform at a high level.

    I would play Murphy, hope he performs well through the remainder of the year, and try to trade him in the offseason.

    Then Flores or Herrera can be the 2B next year; if Herrera isn’t ready that is fine because I think Flores is starting to become comfortable in the majors (similar to TDA) and can hold down the fort if not do even more than that.

  6. DanB September 9, 2014 at 11:20 am
    I don’t believe the decision to keep Murphy is a baseball one. I think it will be a financial one which is sad because the Met fans are tired of the Mets always picking the cheaper path. I think the Mets should start with Murphy on second next year. For one, it is always better to keep a player in the minors for a couple months too long then to promote him two months too early. Also, and more importantly, I have doubts that Duda will repeat his performance next year and Murphy at first could be plan B. I know its blasphemy but I worry Duda will be repeating Ike’s brief shining moment. He reminds me of the Knick’s Kenny “Sky” Walker who had all the talent but lacked self confidence. Once pitchers figure Duda is not taking the first strike, he will have to adjust. I hope I am wrong but if I am, then you trade Murphy next year.
    • Joe Janish September 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm
      Furthering your suggestion and concern, how about trading Duda this winter, at his peak value, and moving Murphy to 1B?

      Oh, but it would be cheaper to keep Duda and trade Murphy, wouldn’t it?

      • DaveSchneck September 9, 2014 at 6:45 pm
        Duda will cost less than Murph and regardless of how his offense if valued vs. Murphy, power like the Dude’s is in short supply. He stays. I say keep Murphy and Hererra. Unless he flops, Hererra will almost certainly be the 2B in 2016, but for 2015 there is no reason not to maintain maximum depth. If Murph plays and plays well, the kid can play in Vegas and be ready to step in.
        • Joe Janish September 9, 2014 at 10:12 pm
          Personally, if the Mets TRULY put winning above all, I’d be trading Duda because power is in short supply and he’d likely fetch much more than he’s really worth — especially considering his contract / control situation. And, I’d install Murphy at 1B and build the club around speed, defense, pitching, and singles/doubles hitters, a la the Whitey Herzog 70s Royals / 80s Cards. But then, I’ve been saying the Mets should do this since they entered Citi Field.
    • Yeats September 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm
      Kenny Walker also lacked a jump shot.
  7. James Preller September 9, 2014 at 12:14 pm
    Good post, solid take on the realities of the situation. I was happy with Murphy on the shelf, enjoyed watching Dilson, but I fully understand that Dan deserves the starts — he was our only All-Star — and that it makes sense for the reasons you described above. Trading Murphy this winter depends on two things: 1) The ability to move Bartolo Colon; 2) The true budget for payroll next season. We simply don’t have that information. There’s so much I respect and value in the way Daniel Murphy plays the game. But a team with the 24th highest payroll in baseball must make hard, financial choices about its players. I reluctantly don’t think Murphy is a good value deal moving forward . . . for this particular team. Sigh. I wish the Mets had real owners.
    • DanB September 9, 2014 at 3:15 pm
      Alderson has said he doesn’t see the Mets raising payroll. Thanks Daniel Murphy, it’s been fun watching run the bases.
  8. Ghost of Clarence September 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm
  9. Yeats September 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm
    Trade Duda, drop-kick Murphy, move Td’A to 1B and promote K-Plaw?
  10. norme September 10, 2014 at 11:40 am
    For the rest of ’14, now that DW is out, why not move Murph to 3B and play Herrera at 2B?
  11. argonbunnies September 12, 2014 at 4:59 am
    The Mets’ inactivity in free agency will make it clear to all that a Murphy trade is simply a salary dump, and other teams will know they don’t have to give up anything. Despite the NY media, Alderson hasn’t generated any public bidding wars for his players the way good agents do. Murphy will probably bring back some teenager who throws 95 with no control, or a good defensive up-the-middle A ball player who can’t hit. Or maybe a Collin Cowgill type.

    I am psyched about Herrera’s future, but if he’s the Mets’ full-time 2B in 2015, that’s going to be ugly. He needs more time to work on routes to grounders and discerning pitches he can touch from pitches he can drive. The spotlight of NY is not the best place to work on such things.

    As we ponder roster moves, I think it’s worth mentioning that the Mets’ farm system has done a decent-to-great job of churning out complimentary players. But none of that matters unless you have some stars or almost-stars for those guys to surround. A rotation of homegrown #3s and a lineup of homegrown #6s is nicely cost-efficient, but it doesn’t get you to October. I like Granderson, but if the Mets were only going to pay for one free agent over the next 4 years, Curtis seems like a terrible choice. He contributes, but he’s not The Guy the Mets need to take them to the next level.

    With no budget, the only hope I see is to win a trade on a gamble for a high-upside hitter. Either a raw but incredible talent like Baez, or a guy who might or might not be in decline yet like Bautista.

    • Joe Janish September 18, 2014 at 9:45 am
      Curtis Granderson was not signed to be the guy to take them to the next level. He was signed to sell tickets. He is incredibly likable and people in NY know who he is because he was a star for the Yankees and active in the community, and that’s why he was signed. Since the Wilpons booted out Doubleday, it always has been, and always will be, about generating revenue above all else. Second, being seen by peers as sports moguls. Winning is tertiary.
      • DanB September 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm
        I disagree. I believe the Wilpons’ primary goal is to develop the area around Citi Field. There second goal is to not lose any more money on the Mets, either by cutting cost (primary) or raising revenue (secondary) with out spending money needed to refinance their loans. When they were using revenue to generate Madoff money, raising revenue was a much higher priority. Once Willets Point is finished, I would expect the Wilpons to sell the Mets as they will attacked by fans for killing the franchise.
        • DanB September 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm
          wow, i just reread my post. I apologize for the grammatical mistakes. I hate typing on smart phones. Between my bad eyes and big fingers, I am awful.
      • argonbunnies September 18, 2014 at 4:20 pm
        If the Wilpons’ goal is to sell tickets, they’re not doing a great job of it. “Likable familiar face” sells a bunch of tickets at first, but if that guy doesn’t produce and the team doesn’t win, the sales drop off immediately. I can concoct several strategies with better odds of selling more tickets in the long run.

        Any thoughts on Baez, Bautista, or some other worthy gamble?

  12. CleonJames September 17, 2014 at 11:41 am
    This is kind of a moot point since the Mets have hired a consulting firm to develop a “strategic approach to our nonprofitable baseball operations” and have just announced their intention to take the team in a new direction:
    Wilpons announce quest for meaningful games in December.
    “We are already SOBs so playing South of Border is probably more fitting anyway”. Home games to be played at new Mexico CitiField. Stadium to be built next week barnraising style at cost of $200K. Withdrawal from MLB and razing of Flushing’s Citifield imminent. “We think we can be competitive in this league and promise to broadcast all games in English in addition to our new native language for all communications, Spanish.”