Mets’ Murphy’s Hope: Health and Hits

It is that time of year again: the usual Spring Training fluff pieces are in full flower. One of the more interesting quotes so far in this newborn season came from new Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, who predicts that Daniel Murphy could win the NL batting crown.

Murphy is certainly one of the more controversial characters to emerge in this post-Madoff era of Met history. Reminiscent of the types of debates mid-1990’s Mets fans had over Jeff Kent, there are few folks that are merely lukewarm on Murph. One side wants this home-grown, gritty, blue-collar All Star signed to a long-term extension. The other side would have traded him two off-seasons ago and wants him moved at least by the July 31 trade deadline, if not sooner.

If the last few seasons have shown us nothing else, they are stark reminders that baseball is a business and the players are merely depreciating assets. With an ownership as financially hamstrung as the Wilpons apparently are, proper control over these depreciating assets is a vital necessity for them in their quest to hang on to this franchise.

Let’s face it: that the Mets have held on to Murphy this long is entirely due to the fact that his salary is relatively low, vis-a-vis his production. That will change after this year, when Daniel is a first-time free agent and looking at a big payday.

So, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the Mets are hoping that Daniel has one of those last-year-of- my-contract career seasons. This may seem counterintuitive on the surface, but if you peel the layers back a bit, it makes perfect sense.

The Mets don’t want Murphy beyond 2015. They have what they perceive to be a perfectly suitable replacement in Dilson Herrera, who should be major league ready by the end of the season. What the Mets want is a huge season from Murph (think Jose Reyes 2011 huge). If he hits say .330 and bangs out 200 hits, there is no way he doesn’t become one of the top free agents in the next class. This works to the Mets advantage, as they can make him a Qualifying Offer, which he will likely turn down in search of a much larger payday. The Mets in turn get an extra first round draft pick, which right now looks like a better and cheaper alternative to any player(s)from other teams that have been linked to the Mets in a trade for Murphy.

There is precedence for this with Reyes. The Mets let him walk, much to the dismay of their fans, garnering two draft picks in return. Those picks have turned into Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds. Both players are on the verge of breaking into the majors this year and are both (more so in Plawecki’s case) regarded as bona-fide prospects. It will make GM Sandy Alderson look pretty smart if he traded a depreciating asset like Reyes (who since moved on to another team) for two serviceable players on his 25-man roster during what he hopes is the year they return to postseason.

Speaking of trades, if Murphy does indeed have a career year this year, there is very little chance he is dealt at the trade deadline, unless the entire Mets season has otherwise gone down the dumper. If the team is even within hailing distance of a postseason berth, you can bank on another quiet deadline for Alderson.

Yep, just like they drew it up: Murph just has to stay healthy and hit the way Long thinks he can. (BTW-Peter Gammons called Long one of the best free agent signings of the offseason) The Mets will reap the benefits of an additional first-round pick, refreshing their farm system while some poor team pays Daniel for what he did for while with the Mets.

Or am I giving the Mets too much credit?

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Manager in the Bulk Materials Handling industry. He lives in Bethlehem PA with his wife and son, neither of whom fully get his obsession with the Mets.
  1. norme March 2, 2015 at 2:29 pm
    Dan, I agree with much of what you say. I would quibble with your statement that the Mets ownership is apparently “financially hamstrung…”
    I truly believe that the Wilpons are not hurting at all for money. They have made a financial decision to limit the Mets payroll based on their belief, seconded by the GM, that you don’t have to have a big budget to gain entry to the meaningful games in the fall. Why spend 150 million when you can spend about 90 million and be in the running for a wild card spot?
    Personally, I think that the front office believes they are good enough to be a lock for 2nd place in the East. I don’t agree. They’d better pay attention to the Marlins.
  2. Bat March 2, 2015 at 4:19 pm
    Cappy, I agree with everything you wrote.

    The Mets are hoping Murphy has a big year so they can extend the QO and get a first round pick when he signs with another team.

    If the Mets are in the toilet at the trading deadline, Murphy will be dealt as well as Colon and Niese (I’m assuming Gee is long gone) and the Mets will start preparing for 2016 by playing Herrera, Syndergaard, and Matz instead of those three players.

  3. geecee8 March 2, 2015 at 4:34 pm
    Is Murphy taking 4-40 now?

    Is he taking it after he bats .305 with 80 and 80?

  4. Murder Slim March 3, 2015 at 9:26 pm
    After the mostly obnoxious and hugely sanctimonious drivel Murphy talked today about Billy Bean, it’s condensed the idea that I wish he’d been traded and Flores was at second base. The clangs off Murphy’s glove this year will resonate even louder.
    • argonbunnies March 4, 2015 at 5:03 am
      Agreed. It’s nice that Murphy thinks he can “love and accept those he disagrees with”, but making a point of telling the news media (and through them, thousands of readers) that he “100% disagrees with Bean’s lifestyle” does NOT qualify as love or acceptance. Maybe a teammate can give a long interview about how much he disagrees with some core part of Murphy’s identity and see how loved and accepted Murph feels afterwards.

      I know athletes are not actually role models, but dammit, it’s nice to be able to root for the guys on your favorite team.

      Parnell trashing the rookie’s lunch doesn’t make him the easiest guy to pull for either. (Apparently Syndergaard didn’t sprint to the dugout fast enough when Wright told him he should be there. Good job, Sgt. Bobby.)

      And, breaking news: after deciding earlier that cheesy motivational T-shirts were a good idea, the Mets have now decided they were a bad idea, and taken them back.

      Ugly, ugly day to follow this team.

      • Walnutz15 March 4, 2015 at 9:32 am
        Perfect post, Argon. I agreed with it all, prior to even reading it — and now that I’ve seen it here…..need to reiterate that it’s all perfect.

        Talk all you’d like about winning and being relevant, etc.

        ……………, all you’ll hear is how Noah Syndergaard got dumped on by David Wright & Bobby Parnell — and how Daniel Murphy views certain lifestyle choices.

        WELCOME BACK!! *cues up Ringling Brothers theme*

        How hard is it to come to the realization that any and every thing you do or say is going to get blown up — no matter where it occurs, or when.

        Looks like those Met media 101 classes they gave players a few years back are really paying off.

        P.S. – Parnell had better be ready to get himself back to action, and producing – provided he’s gonna start acting like the clubhouse hardass.

  5. DanS March 3, 2015 at 9:48 pm
    “Drivel” is right on the money. It’s bad enough we have to watch these guys look up to the heavens every time they manage to take the field without tripping over the foul lines (they never look up and offer “thanks” when they’ve struck out with the tying run on third), now we have to listen to lectures on lifestyle choices. Hey, Murphy, you’ve got your own lifestyle choice to make: are you going to continue to be a clown at second base or actually learn to field your position?
  6. DaveSchneck March 3, 2015 at 11:17 pm
    Your scenario is the most plausible, but a lot can happen along the way. What happens at SS, how Hererra performs, and how Duda performs all can have an impact on Murph’s tenure.

    I do agree in Norm’s comment above that the Wilpon payroll is now a choice and not a necessity. So, Murphy is affordable, even with all the pitchers paydays coming due. But, odds on this is his last season as a Met, given the likely development and lower cost of Dilson Hererra and/or Wilmer Flores.

  7. argonbunnies March 4, 2015 at 4:50 am
    I’m seeing what you’re seeing, Dan. Murph rakes in his walk year (or at least cements his reliability with another .290 season), rejects the qualifying offer, and the Mets get a high draft pick.

    Honestly, though, I’m not sure that all those teams who decided Murphy wasn’t worth trading for are going to pony up a contract that blows the qualifying offer away. If someone does offer Murphy a big payday, that’d put the lie to Alderson’s claims that he did his due diligence around the last two trade deadlines.

    I think your Reyes comparison is crazy, though. If Beltran landed us Wheeler, you’ve got to think Reyes would have landed us more than Plawecki and Reynolds. Look where the Cardinals were in July 2011 and tell me you don’t think they would have traded Lance Lynn and Matt Carpenter for Reyes. Letting Murphy walk might be sound, but letting Reyes walk was inexcusable.

    • Dan Capwell March 4, 2015 at 10:18 am
      I dunno AB, it isn’t like the other GMs don’t have access to the same info we do. Reyes was having a career year and was, IIRC injured around the time of the trade deadline. Lynn AND Carpenter?

      I agree that Alderson should have dealt him, but I am not sure how highly valued Jose was at the time, one would think that given the praise heaped on Alderson for the Beltran deal, he would have jumped at a package like that for Reyes.

      I feel about Sandy the way I feel about that 1980’s band The Clash. Both have been highly over-rated by a fawning press (I saw the Clash in concert twice and they were awful). I think that bagging Plawecki and Reynolds was more akin to winning the basket raffle at a club social than the result of shrewd drafting.

      • argonbunnies March 4, 2015 at 1:06 pm
        Reyes was easily healthy enough to play every day and keep hitting (which he did), he just couldn’t leg out triples or steal a ton of bases. At that moment, he was better than Beltran in every way except power — batting average & defense at a skill position of need.

        Yes, he was a rental, but proud teams like the Cardinals frequently make moves like that for a shot at res-signing the player once he falls in love with the team. You don’t think they’d have had good odds to sign Jose after winning the World Series?*

        Lance Lynn, a high-minors hard thrower with good but not exceptional numbers and pedigree, plus Matt Carpenter, an old high-OBP third base prospect without a ton of pop, would not have been an outlandish “get” at all. It would have been an upside play that history happens to have shown would have worked out… but one with better odds than a second-round and supplemental draft pick, in my eyes.

        *Of course, Lynn threw some key postseason relief innings, so who knows? Maybe with Jose they don’t win it all!

  8. argonbunnies March 4, 2015 at 5:05 am
    Agreed on the Mets’ approach to Murphy, Dan.

    Totally disagree on Reyes, though. Coulda gotten a lot more by trading him.

    • DanB March 4, 2015 at 9:17 am
      The Mets didn’t swap Reyes for Reynolds and Plawecki. They swapped him for two picks that have yet to play a MLB game. And if one of those guys turns into an all star like Reyes, which is very unlikely, it will happen six to eight years after Reyes walked. We tend to discount those years as meaningless.
      • DaveSchneck March 5, 2015 at 12:04 am
        Any way you slice it, Alderson’s handling of Reyes was atrocious. Don’t get me wrong, I like the assets that Plawecki and Reynolds have become, even with an MLB AB to their credit. But, letting a talent like Jose leave for just the picks was inexcusable. Certainly, like many other Met happenings, it had the Wilpon stench around it, so it is tough to say how much fault is on the GM. Likely, his hands were tied to some degree before Jose’s final Met season (when he should have been signed), at the deadline, and when hit hit free agency for sure.
        • argonbunnies March 5, 2015 at 12:50 am
          Y’know, I thought for a while that poor Alderson was the Wilpons’ patsy, that he’d signed up for “moneyball with money” and instead gotten “moneyball with marketing”. But more recently I’ve been wondering if maybe the Wilpons are Alderson’s patsies, constantly buying up hope like the fans, believing Sandy’s Selig-approved promises that they can win without spending. ANY team owner WANTS to believe that, but once you’ve paid for a Fantasy Front Office, and you expect them to pull out Rays-style miracles, it may be hard to cut bait when they don’t.

          It’s hard to figure out. If you think that ownership keeps sabotaging his plans with unforeseen directives and budget cuts, then Sandy’s done a pretty good job. If you think he’s known the deal all along and has had the authority to set and carry out the plan, then he’s done a pretty bad job.

  9. Dan42 March 6, 2015 at 11:19 pm
    • Joe Janish March 9, 2015 at 11:36 am
      What’s banned?
  10. Dan42 March 9, 2015 at 5:04 pm
    Apparently honest replies in other threads. But since I Emailed it to you I’m done.