Murphy vs. Martinez


While the Mets are hurting now, parts of the cavalry are making their way back. Carlos Beltran should be feeling better soon, and Ryan Church can come off the DL about a week from now, which means Fernando Martinez will likely be sent back to AAA Buffalo.

Or will he?

Because Carlos Delgado is out until at least July — maybe longer — there has been some chatter regarding the acquisition of a big bopper to take his place in the middle of the lineup. Unless Mike Piazza comes out of retirement, it’s obvious that the import would be a first baseman and/or outfielder.

If indeed the Mets bring in, say, a Matt Holliday or Jermaine Dye, then Dan Murphy has a chance to stay at first base. But, if they acquire a first baseman — Nick Johnson, for example — that puts Murphy back in the outfield, possibly in a platoon situation.

There’s a problem with that second scenario, though, which is that the Mets have decided that Murphy is not an outfielder. The other issue is that the outfield is already crowded, once Ryan Church and Angel Pagan return.

And then there’s Fernando Martinez, who is not being overmatched at the plate.

Whether F-Mart can keep it up is anyone’s guess, but if he does, that changes the situation — it puts the focus on getting a first baseman, displacing Murphy. Add in another factor: Ryan Church is the Mets’ most eligible everyday player to be dealt. He’s only 30, under contractual control for another year, inexpensive, and undervalued by Mets management. The Mets have no “MLB-ready” prospects in their minor-league system, which means they almost certainly would have to provide at least one starting player from the 25-man roster in a blockbuster deal. Church fits the mold — as does Murphy.

If Martinez continues to show he belongs in the bigs, the Mets might consider giving him the right field job and moving Church to obtain a first baseman (Garrett Atkins? Chad Tracy?) — particularly if Murphy continues to struggle at the plate. Though not yet the complete package, Martinez right now has better raw tools than Murphy in the areas of speed and defense, and he might have the edge in power. Hitting under .250, Murphy brings little value to the starting lineup — his defense is a detriment in the outfield, only adequate at first base, he has below-average power for a corner infielder, and is below-average to average as a baserunner. In other words, if Murphy’s not hitting .300+, there isn’t much point in playing him.

Martinez, on the other hand, can at least give you solid defense and baserunning, and he might smack a few extra-base hits. Of course, his batting average needs to improve by at least 75 points — but if it does, it may be enough for him to stick.

The next two weeks could turn out to be a competition of survival between Fernando Martinez and Danny Murphy. Which one will remain standing?

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.