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.

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. Extragooey June 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm
    I was actually rather surprised that they sent Recker down. Not that he didn’t deserve it hitting the way he has. I guess even backup catchers have a line they can’t fall below.

    I don’t see Murphy or Colon back. There’s just simply no room for Colon. And keeping Niese instead of Colon isn’t as simple as picking Niese over Colon. Niese is under contract, and a favorable contract if he can ever come close to his career numbers. Now, if someone throws Alderson a trade he can’t refuse for Niese, then maybe I can see them resigning Colon as a placeholder until Wheeler is ready. I can’t see Murphy coming back because I don’t think the Wilpons will sign Murphy to be a supersub at >10 million a year. Like you said, a lot has to do with what he does with the bat the rest of the year. If he’s super hot the rest of the year, Murphy is gonna look for a multi-year deal. If he’s not hot, I don’t see him coming back even at 10 million for one year. That’s a lot for a utility player.

    I’m hoping Conforto gets fasttracked, continues to hit in Binghamton and hopefully Vegas later in the year. He has a hot spring next year and wins the LF position outright. We need another player that can give us greater than a .350 OBP. I’m sick of everyone making outs 70% of the time.

    I don’t see the Nats not winning the NL East. They’ve been struggling for some reason. I haven’t really been following why. But even with Strassburg out, they shouldn’t be this bad. Their pitching should shape up the rest of the year and should win the NL East over the Mets.

    • Mike B June 18, 2015 at 3:28 pm
      Why should the Nats pitching shape up? Gio has worse numbers than Niese; Strasburg was terrible before the DL; Fister’s on the DL;Werth and R Zimmerman are on the DL; their BP is so bad, they just got Carpenter from the Yankees, but the Yankees’ Miller was hurt, so they need pitching, just not Carpenter. I fear the Marlins more. Latos is back, Hernandez soon, and Alvarez soon. The Nats have Scherzer and Zimmerman as SP’s, but Zimmerman is 4-4. He’s decent, but after that? Gio’s ERA is 4.82 and his WHIP is 1.55. That’s worse than Niese’s. IMO, they’re in big trouble. Too many pitching injuries to recover, no LaRoche, key players hurt, and Desmond is batting .228 with 78 K’s, a 30% K rate, worse than any Met, and he’s got 15 errors. Unless Strasburg and Fister come back and be good, and Gio turns it around, they’ll be lucky to be .500. You can’t win with 3 starters hurt or ineffective. We have 4 effective starters, if Thor keeps it up. But we certainly have 3 with Harvey, deGrom and Colon. They don’t.
      • Extragooey June 18, 2015 at 5:16 pm
        Oh, I don’t know, maybe years of pitching excellence vs months of bad. There’s just too much history. Maybe Gio is declining. But I look at the K rate, it’s still good. The BB is a little higher than his good years, but not too bad for him. His babip against is high at .368 so when that comes down, he should put up better numbers. Is Fister, Werth, R Zimmerman out for the year? If not, it supports my opinion they should shape up. Yeah, their defense sucks, no one replacing LaRoche’s production. I get it, but once they get everyone back to health, it will still be a very dangerous team. A team that went 21-6 at one point in this season and made up the Mets’ 8 game lead and then some by overtaking the Mets.
        • argonbunnies June 19, 2015 at 2:49 am
          Agreed. Gio can be erratic, but he has among the best stuff of any lefty in MLB. Werth should be out a while, though, and Aaron Barrett has gone from nasty-looking set-up guy to unreliable, so there may be real reasons why this team won’t match their dominant expectations. Still hard to bet on the Mets over that roster over 162, though. That really requires many Nat injuries and zero Mets ones.

          Mike has a point about the Marlins, though — that team could go in any direction, and one of them is “way up”.

  2. DaveSchneck June 15, 2015 at 9:39 pm
    Dan,
    Agree on most.

    If Conforto hits his way to the bigs, so be it…a good problem to have.

    I agree with EG above in that I just can’t see the Nats failing to win the NL East. While it seems like the cry of the Wilpons is wait til next year, Alderson should not do anything to jeopardize 2016-2019, especially for a 1 game WC berth.

    • argonbunnies June 16, 2015 at 7:08 am
      If the Mets are out of it, I’ll enjoy watching Conforto as a glimpse of the future. If they’re trying to win in 2015, though, they shouldn’t be doing it with a kid who hit .280 in A ball this year.
      • Bat June 20, 2015 at 2:24 pm
        Argon, that is at least the second time you’ve said that Conforto shouldn’t be on the ML team after hitting .280 in A ball this year, and it might be the third you’ve said it.

        But you have to look at his total body of work.

        He was hot in A ball, then he slumped, and then he was promoted. If he had stayed in A ball, he would have gotten out of that slump and hit for huge numbers. Why do I say that? Because he’s done really well in AA.

        I predicted one month or so ago that Conforto will get promoted to AAA in early July or at the absolute latest in mid July, and he’ll spend 4-6 weeks in AAA before joining the ML roster around mid to late August.

        A lot will depend on how he hits after being promoted to AAA, but I think he’ll be playing left field regularly in Citi by the end of August.

  3. argonbunnies June 16, 2015 at 7:06 am
    So, every time the Mets are bad and would like to move a veteran, they claim they can’t get much back. Accordingly, if other teams are bad and want to move their veterans, it stands to reason they won’t get much back either, and the Mets should easily be able to win a bidding war for, say, Aramis Ramirez, by offering some decent guy they don’t need, like Matt Bowman or L.J. Mazzilli. The Mets CAN boost their chances for 2015 without denting their future (Mazzilli is behind how many guys right now?) — all it takes is the cost of Aramis’s (or whoever’s) salary.

    Unfortunately, the Mets have filled most positions with either kids who need experience or veteran commitments. Cuddyer and Granderson haven’t been SO bad that they warrant benching — they simply aren’t assets on a winning team, that’s all. If the Mets only cared about fielding the best talent, they’d acknowledge they goofed in evaluating numbers from Denver and the Bronx, but to be fair, how many teams actually do that? Dumping respected, high-character veterans is always a fraught maneuver unless they absolutely stink.

    Murphy may actually be the easiest guy to upgrade from, as he’ll be leaving in 2016… but he also continues to line singles often enough to convince Mets thinkers that he’s a great hitter. Over 100+ games, Aramis is probably a pretty safe bet to be the better player (and I’d love Murph as a pinch-hitter), but at any given moment, Murphy might be better, and that can be hard to swallow for the “what have you done for me lately” crowd.

    • DaveSchneck June 16, 2015 at 7:54 am
      AB,
      Murphy’s upgrade is already here in Dilson Hererra. Murphy’s 2016 return went from no way to slim chance based on DW’s back issue, which now requires a strong backup on a contending team.
    • Extragooey June 16, 2015 at 10:53 am
      I highly doubt management thinks of Murphy as a great hitter. At least not in the way Kieth Hernandez does. No multiyear deal through his arbitration years nor any talks of resigning him show this.

      Mets haven’t always struck out when moving veterans. Reference what they got back for Beltran and Byrd. It’s all about the perceived quality of the veteran you’re trying to move.

      No, Granderson wasn’t a great signing. I wanted Choo and I’m sure many Met fans as well. In hindsight, both struggled last year and continues to this year. So maybe giving 4 years to Granderson instead of the 7 Choo got for higher dollars was the less destructive move. Instead of Cuddyer, the other big name free agent was Cruz. The was perhaps the better signing, although you’d have to take that PR hit if there is one for signing someone guilty of using PEDs.

      • argonbunnies June 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm
        Collins has several times called Murphy “the best hitter on the team,” so I don’t trust TC to bench him when necessary.

        Beltran was a legit star and Byrd was having a monster year. They were the best guys available. Is Aramis? I don’t know… but if he brings back what Byrd brought back, minus Herrera outperforming expectations, then that’d be fine. Mazzilli plus Robles, perhaps.

        Granderson was a fine signing to shore up a black hole; the problem isn’t Curtis himself so much as the overall roster, a roster which needed more than just “not a black hole” in RF. Plus, also, hey Alderson, defense matters too, might wanna actually scout that next time before launching your “three center fielders!” rhetoric.

        Choo never seemed like the right fit to me, due to age/body type/declining athleticism. I thought Cruz was going to fall off a cliff this year — old, stiff, injury-prone guy leaving behind his bandboxes. So I guess I’m batting .500. (Unless you think Nellie’s .244/.295/.293 line over his last 21 games will persist.)

        I maintain that we need at least one star, or several well-above-average players, and we should deal pitching to get that. Alas, my “deal Wheeler before he gets hurt” cries were not heeded by management. Just imagine if the D’backs had accepted my offer of Duda, Wheeler, Rosario and Verrett for Goldschmidt…

        • Extragooey June 16, 2015 at 11:52 pm
          Well, I was referring more to upper management. But saying “the best hitter on the team” doesn’t necessarily mean “great hitter”.

          Well, I think Beltran and Byrd was valued more highly than Ramirez is now. So maybe you can get a deal done without costing too much. Also, Zobrist is probably more in demand as well therefore dropping Ramirez’s cost most likely. The question is do you really want him. I don’t see him better than Murphy over 100 games as you do. He’s already announced that this is his last year and he’s playing like it. And defensively, I don’t think he’s an upgrade over Murphy either.

          You may be right about Choo. I wasn’t completely heartbroken not getting him. Seven years is a long commitment and that’s what kills many organizations.

          Well, our stars are on the pitching side. Sure, if you can land a stud hitter, I’m all for trading young pitching which we have a surplus of. Don’t forget about Montero. He’s another chip you can use. But who to go after…

          It’s hard to land superstars still in arbitration years so that Goldschmidt deal you proposed may not be enough. Teams usually don’t deal those players away, unless you are Billy Beane apparently.

        • mckeeganson June 17, 2015 at 12:24 am
          Yeah I do believe that trade for Goldschmidt would have required Dom Smith and Syndegaard as well. He is after all, the best first basemen in baseball by a mile and still very affordable and young. It would take a ransom to even begin the talks for him.
        • argonbunnies June 19, 2015 at 2:20 am
          Given the way Goldy’s playing this year, I assume he’s completely untouchable. I wasn’t sure if that was the case in January, with most experts predicting the D’backs to be horrible and suffering from a complete dearth of pitching. I still don’t know what Stewart and La Russa’s plan is, though, so who knows. It’s true that guys like Goldschmidt are rarely moved, but on really bad teams they sometimes are, especially given a capable short-term replacement like Duda.

          As for whether we really want Aramis Ramirez, well, I’d scout him first, but if he’s any semblance of his former self, then yes, definitely. Either he upgrades the bench, or Murphy does.

        • P2H June 21, 2015 at 9:42 pm
          Right on bunny!
    • DanB June 16, 2015 at 11:55 am
      To listen to some, acquiring talent is impossible since you always have to give up too much in talent or money or both. Someone must be doing it because there are six division champs every year.
  4. mckeeganson June 17, 2015 at 12:29 am
    I don’t know about everyone else, but these last couple of dramatic wins have me believing just a bit. Our batting order is actually starting to come around and this is despite a quiet month from Duda. If d’arnaud continues to be this type of player it changes the whole dynamic of the batting order. I am also loving the enthusiasm and energy that Herrera and Ceciliani are providing. Nice to see Collins letting the youth play a bit more.
    • argonbunnies June 19, 2015 at 2:39 am
      I agree with Sidd (below) that our pitching will keep us from falling off a cliff, but this lineup may be the 3rd worst in the NL. The results are troublesome (4th worst OBP & OPS, 3rd worst Runs/Game), and the process is even worse (many poor ABs).

      I love what d’Arnaud’s done so far, but it’s hard for me to imagine that his weaknesses (can’t catch up to heat, can’t reach low and away) won’t bite him at some point.

      After the Game 10 win against the Marlins when the Mets had multiple clutch rallies against solid pitching, I got my hopes up that they’d gotten over their nerves and desperation of years past, but it didn’t take too many losses to bring it right back. It didn’t help that, for a while, the guy with the most awful, out-of-control ABS on the team was the shiny new veteran role model, Cuddyer.

      I’m not saying the 2015 Mets are doomed, but if there is hope, it’s all about throwing shutouts (and that means finding some way to improve the defense). This offense is only good enough if the pitching is great.

  5. Sidd Finch June 17, 2015 at 9:40 am
    The Mets are 1st place and have won 4 of their last 5. In this weak division, and as a result of the overall league parity, their pitching will keep them in contention. Regardless, for the first time in years this is an exciting team to watch and root for. I would say Murphy’s return in 2016 almost completely hinges on the health of Wright.
  6. Colin June 17, 2015 at 11:23 am
    Here we come.
  7. James June 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm
    why don’t u want conforto brought up? I think that would be a good move and let cuddyer play a little 3b and platoon with grandy.
    • Mike B June 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm
      I’m totally on board with this. I think they want to give Conforto some AB’s at LV first, but that could happen in a week or two. Maybe 20 games at LV to determine if he’s ready. I love the platoon idea of Grandy/Cuddy. Cuddy needs rest and Grandy is batting .146 vs LH pitching. Cuddy’s two year deal okay, Grandy’s 4 year deal a killer.
    • argonbunnies June 19, 2015 at 2:26 am
      If you look at the history of prospects sped from A ball to the majors in a single year, who then went on to hit well in the majors that year, you will find… nobody.

      A look at A-Rod’s minor league stats should be instructive: he dominated every level like no Met ever has, and still needed some seasoning on the 1995 Mariners before he was really ready to contribute in 1996.

      If Conforto hits the majors this year, it may be good for HIM, but it’s certainly not good for the 2015 Mets.

      Agreed that Cuddyer and Grandy seeing a little less time could be a good thing, but Ceciliani appears to be the guy for that for now.

      • Extragooey June 22, 2015 at 11:20 am
        How about Albert Pujols who jumped essentially from A ball to the majors?

        In 2000, he had 400 ABs in A ball, 89 ABs in A+, and 15 ABs in AAA. Then made his MLB debut in 2001 with a .329/.403/.610 rookie season with 590 ABs.

      • Extragooey June 22, 2015 at 11:21 am
        Oh, and I’m not comparing Conforto to Pujols. Just pointing out the list isn’t nobody as you said.
  8. P2H June 21, 2015 at 9:40 pm
    4 hour drive to Atlanta Saturday to see just how bad these fake believe mets really are. Other then pitching this team is terrible. Everyone knows they cant hit for beans and their defense isum, horrendous.

    Their upcoming “talent” is a joke compared to some of the other organizations (outside of a few pitching prospects)
    Go out and get a hitter. How about an outfielder for starters. A real name not Aramis ram iris who is eligible for social security in 3 years. The Dodgers have plenty of depth in the outfield. Make a play for Puig and give them some pitching in return. What about Todd Frazier,? The Reds have payroll headaches right now. Although he actually isn’t eligible for free agency until after 2017 — his current contract carries through 2016, but the Reds can take him through arbitration once more after that. Find a way to take him off their hands.

    • Joe Janish June 22, 2015 at 11:43 am
      Hey are you the same person who called MLB on XM this morning?

      Puig or Frazier are going to cost Matz and/or Syndergaard and/or Nimmo and/or Conforto. Alderson isn’t going to part with any of those youngsters. The Mets’ best chance of acquiring Puig was in June 2012, when he was on the market as a free agent and available to anyone willing to pay. The Mets did not enter a bid, just as they passed on Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Yasmany Tomas, Rusney Castillo, Yoan Moncada, and every other Cuban defector with high upside. Too risky for a small-market team.