This Third Baseman We’re Getting…
…sure sounds a lot like Daniel Murphy!
I know trade rumors and speculation make for interesting copy, but I just don’t see the Mets expending either the talent nor the money to get a significant upgrade at the hot corner. Instead, when Murphy is activated this weekend, the job is probably his for the remainder of David Wright‘s absence. Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson has said he wants someone who can play third and other positions. If you have been watching the Mets this past half decade you have seen Murphy at first, second, third and left. All to varying degrees of success for sure, but Murphy does have the experience, if nothing else, at multiple defensive positions.
In a perfect world, I am sure the Mets would like to hand Murph the job and have him hit around .300 for the rest of the campaign. The team somehow holds on to the NL East lead and gets into the playoffs (more on this in a moment). Then in the winter, the Mets give Murphy a Qualifying Offer, which he accepts and with Wright still out, Murphy is the 2016 Opening Day Third Baseman, on a one year deal. Wright returns sometime in ’16; moving Murphy into a supersub role, providing relief at first, second and third as well as giving whoever is the manager that year a reliable lefty bat off the bench.
A couple of problems with this scenario, I know, with the stickiest being that Murphy has a whiz-bang second half of 2015 and then signs with another team. In other words, the Mets need to hope he is good, but just not that good! In case you haven’t figured it out yet, with this team and these owners, the off-the-field moves can be just as entertaining as those on the field.
It will and for the foreseeable future, always be about Next Year with these guys. Financial uncertainty will do that. That’s why Murphy will be Wright’s replacement (the alternative is Ruben Tejada). It’s also why I’ll bet Jon Niese will probably hang around for at least another year while Bartolo Colon will be allowed to walk away. Like Murphy, Niese is the placeholder for a seriously injured player (Zack Wheeler). Like Wright, there is no sure timetable for Wheeler’s return, let alone, Wheeler’s return to effectiveness. So, we are likely looking at a 2016 rotation of Harvey-deGrom-Syndergaard-Matz and Niese. These are mainly projectable costs, ( there is almost no way of knowing what Colon can command in the open market), providing the hard and fast payroll projections that keep the Wilpons calm.
Sorry to see fellow Catasauqua native Anthony Recker get sent to the minors. Can’t really complain about it, as his post Mendoza-line batting average finally caught up with him. It will be interesting to see just how much playing time Kevin Plawecki gets, since Travis d’Arnaud is looking like he is becoming a major component of the offense. I am also very intrigued by the story Michael Conforto is writing this year. I think/hope Alderson resists the pressure to bring Conforto up this year, but I can see him in left field next year; pushing incumbent Michael Cuddyer into a right-handed version of Murphy. I think it is mainly accidental, but the ’16 Mets could end up with a strong bench with vets like Murphy and Cuddyer to call on. Time will tell.
Finally, comparisons to the 1973 season have begun to circulate. The Mets won the NL East that year with an 82-79 record (the last game of the season was Game 2 of a double header in Chicago that was cancelled after the Mets clinched the division with a Game One win–I know, I saw it). They then went on to win a memorable NLCS against the Reds and if (arrgghh) Yogi Berra hadn’t decided to pitch his ace on three days rest, they would have won the World Series. But the focus of these comparisons is on the fact that they won the division with 82 wins, which incredible as it sounds, may be enough to win the NLeast this year. My hope is that they are not the 2015 version of 1973 Cardinals, or Pirates, who held the lead for most of the season, only to blow it in the last few weeks. I still haven’t let go of 1973, let alone 2007 and I think a reprise of that collapse like that might finally be the last straw for me. But having endured this team for this long, probably not!
Share your thoughts below.