The Dan Murphy Myth

dan-murphyLast year, a determined and serious young man leapfrogged over AAA into the big leagues and became a fan favorite for his hustle, energy, and line-drive bat. Perhaps most importantly, Danny Murphy was “home-grown” — a ballplayer drafted by the Mets and developed in their farm system. There is something particularly endearing about a player who starts at the bottom, works his way up, and earns himself a spot with the hometown team.

And it doesn’t hurt to arrive in the midst of a hitting streak.

Think back to this time last summer, when Danny was giving it his all to learn left field “on the job”. He had his troubles, for sure — who wouldn’t? — but his tenacity was up to the task. He came to the park early to learn the nuances of fly ball catching, hitting cutoff men, and reacting to balls bouncing off the wall. We all watched young Danny transform himself from a minor league third baseman into a Major League outfielder over the course of 7 weeks. Some of his improvements were subtle, but they were expertly observed by the keen eyes of former MLBers Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling — who luckily were in the SNY booth and could pass on the information to we neophytes sitting at home. These observations were of course supported by quotes from Mets manager Jerry Manuel, members of his coaching staff, and the players themselves — and eventually picked up by respected journalists, who in turn passed on to their readers the optimism of Danny Murphy’s improving defense.

Thus the myth began, and spread like wildfire: Daniel Murphy was developing into a strong defender in the outfield — so much so, that the Mets brass was penciling him into the 2009 lineup as the starting left fielder. And why not? They had to find somewhere to put that potent bat.

Ah, but there’s the other myth that had its genesis this time last year: that Dan Murphy was a future batting champion. He reportedly had a “quick bat”, a “mature approach”, “great patience and discipline”, and “hit the ball to all fields”. We knew all this because that’s what the journalists were writing, and what Keith Hernandez told us every time “Murph” came to the plate. And who would argue with Keith? He actually won a batting title, so he’d know better than anyone.

Unfortunately, what we saw last year from Dan Murphy was a mirage. He’s a decent hitter, and he does try very hard, but the fact is, his skillset isn’t particularly overwhelming in comparison to dozens of other hitters currently in the minor leagues.

It turns out his bat speed is average at best, and eventually the league figured out that he was easily overpowered by hard fastballs inside. To his credit, Murph made the adjustment, and started looking “in” — but simultaneously became susceptible on the outside of the plate, because he was starting his swing sooner.

To be fair, there are very few batters who can cover both sides of the plate — even the elite have a vulnerability somewhere in the strike zone. The difference is, the elite compensate in one way or another, and/or can still handle their vulnerable area better than most. Murphy, however, is not elite — he’s ordinary. Not ordinary like you and me, but ordinary in terms of the best hitters on the planet. He has two forms of attack: 1) guess; and 2) force the pitcher to throw enough pitches until he makes a mistake. This is how Dan Murphy survives, and you have to give him credit for finding a way.

His tenacity and will to survive at this level are inspiring, commendable traits and make him a guy you can’t help but root for. However, he most likely doesn’t have enough skills to warrant a job as a starting first baseman in MLB — particularly not in the 21st century.

Off the top of my head, the only singles hitters who were able to forge a sustained, successful career as a starting first baseman in the last 30 years were Rod Carew, Pete Rose, and Mike Hargrove (yes, Dave Magadan was a singles-hitting first baseman, but he never once attained 500 at-bats in a season). Maybe you can throw Mark Grace and Bill Buckner in there too, though both were good for around 15 HR a year. But most of those names share a common thread — all but Hargrove were perennial threats to win the batting crown, and a near-lock to hit at least .300. Hargrove was a shade lower — around .290 most years — but made up for it with a sky-high OBP (which, ironically, was not valued in his heyday the way it is today). Further, all but Grace played when there were only 26 teams in MLB, the pitching was less diluted, and home runs were more rare. These days, an average first baseman on a contending team provides at least 18-20 HRs AND a second asset. Sid Bream would not have a starting job in the 21st century.

It’s questionable whether Murphy will ever hit more than 10-15 HRs in a season, and though he might have a shot at .300 in his best year, it’s highly doubtful he’ll threaten for a batting crown. His power will have to improve considerably to be a legitimate homerun threat, and that also is unlikely considering his age and the ban on PEDs. Though his baserunning instincts are average, his foot speed is below average and won’t get better. His fielding is below average now, and can improve — but will it be enough to offset a projected ceiling of a .275 batting average, .330 OBP, and 10 HRs ? Those are numbers more fitting of a slick-fielding second baseman, or a catcher.

So far, Murphy has proven to be an excellent pinch-hitter, and has shown an above-average ability to drive runners home. He reminds me a lot of Matt Franco in that respect, and I believe he has a place on a championship team in that capacity. People such as Franco, Danny Heep, Gates Brown, Manny Mota, and Lenny Harris made a career out of pinch-hitting, so this isn’t a knock on Murphy in any way. Rather, it is a realistic analysis of where his future lies.

That said, it’s time to start seeing Dan Murphy for what he is, rather than placing unreasonable expectations upon him. It’s clear the Mets are going to give him every chance to re-discover the magic that allowed him to hit .333 last August — and this is what worries me. Murph might go on a hot streak between now and October, and that would be enough for the Mets to pencil him in as the starting first baseman — in other words, a repeat of what they did last year, but with LF. It’s the same backward thinking that assumed Fernando Tatis would hit .297 again, when in reality, that average was artificially boosted by an abnormally hot month of July.

Indeed, Murphy might find a way to improve upon his current .250 AVG / .310 OBP to more respectable levels, and occasionally pull off a flashy play in the field. But in the end, he’s not Rod Carew, Pete Rose, or even Mark Grace. He’s Daniel Murphy: hard-nosed, tenacious, likeable player who belongs in MLB — though not as the starting first baseman on a championship team.


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. Barry Duchan August 14, 2009 at 9:57 am
    Those of us who are old enough to remember Mike Vail see a lot of parallels between Vail and Murphy. When Vail came up (1974?), he was an insant sensation, batting over .300 and hitting to all-fields with line-drive power. Then, the Mets made the mistake of trading away Rusty Staub for Mickey Lolich and turning rightfield over to Vail. Although some might say an off-season injury derailed Vail’s career, the fact was that he was a useful pinch-hitter and spare part for several teams once the Mets severed ties with him, but that he didn’t have the skills to be a regular player on a good team. I think Murphy falls into the same category -good hitter, but not good enough, some power but not enough, mediocre glove. So I see Murphy’s potential as nothing more than a Greg Dobbs or Ross Gload – valuable off the bench, but definitely not a star, or even a regular.
  2. gary s. August 14, 2009 at 10:03 am
    if beltran and reyes come back and take the pressure off and he never has to worry about playing left field he could be ok as a complementary player at first and free up money for other needs.all bets are off if reyes and beltran do not come back next year.
  3. joejanish August 14, 2009 at 10:04 am
    Barry, thanks for visiting and commenting. I’m old enough to remember Vail, and agree with the comparison — it’s stunningly similar in many respects.
  4. […] Janish at Mets Today does an unbelievable job of describing the myth of Daniel […]
  5. […] in a post to Mets Today, Joe Janish looks at The Murphy Myth, saying he may be more Matt Franco than Mark […]
  6. […] I can’t understand how Daniel Murphy went from a guy we all rooted for to someone folks are ready to kick to the curb.  […]
  7. Frank Quinn August 14, 2009 at 12:04 pm
    Sorry folks I have to disagree about Murph. Yes, he had a hot start and that has fogged many teams thinking. Branch Rickey used to say, ‘don’t ever buy anything you see in April or September.’ But the Mets did. Then they moved him to first base and all of the guys got hurt(?) so Murph wound up many days batting 4th. Wow. And he is what 23 or 24 with no AAA experience playing in front of the New York crowd. Yes, he is only a Dave Magadan type hitter BUT he appears to be a tough kid who tries real hard and they should just give him a chance. BTW – I believe Mike Vail (another Murph type of player) broke (not fractured) his ankle and as Tommy Davis can attest was NEVER the same after that. But not to worry Murph bashers; Omar will trade (give) him away in another monster trade that brings in another Latino hasbeen who will break a tooth on a sunflower seed and spend six (6) months re-habbing at St. Lucie. Meanwhile, Murph will enjoy his new surroundings, relax, and develop into a fine ‘clean’ hardworking/hardnosed player and maybe some day be the batting coach of the Boston Redsox. And remember in 1969 the Mets did not have a good team just a bunch of average character guys that played hard and tough.
  8. joejanish August 14, 2009 at 12:20 pm
    Frank – who are you disagreeing with? I don’t believe anyone disputes your opinion that Murphy is a tough kid and hardnosed player who tries hard. And he’s going to get every chance in the world over the next month and a half to prove he can or can’t be the Mets’ 2010 first baseman.

    The argument is that 1B is a position where teams need to get more offense (particularly power) these days, and Murph isn’t that kind of hitter.

    Agreed on your assessment of the ’69 Mets. But the game has changed remarkably since then. Unless they find a starting three like Seaver, Koosman, and Gentry — all of whom were better then than Johan Santana is now — the Mets will need to find more offense to compete next year.

    Believe me, I preferred the days when pitching, defense, and fundamentals were valued … unfortunately Bowie Kuhn, Bud Selig, and the profit-minded owners have transformed this game into something much different (and less interesting, IMHO). But that’s for another day …

  9. Frank Quinn August 14, 2009 at 12:37 pm
    Joe – My son and I argue about your comments all of the time. Yes, the game has changed but the trades Minaya has made border on the maniacal. I would not have made the Santana trade, signed Perez when Lowe and Wolf were out there. He traded for Castillo and then gave him a 4 year contract. Madness. Jeff Conine? For a man who made his name by finding and developing young players for Texas he is stupid. I just hope Bobby Parnell pitches a no-hitter or two or Minaya will trade him with Murph for probably someone like Vlad G. of the Angels. And remember Omar made some real dumb moves as GM of the Expos. Sorry Mets are doomed as long as Omar is around to blowup the farm system everytime someone shows some talent. I live in Texas and used to travel all over to see the Mets all the time (even to Las Vegas one year for Spring Training games). I am a true Polo Grounds era fan. I really love this team but I guess that is my problem.
  10. joejanish August 14, 2009 at 1:06 pm
    Frank, thanks for sharing (and for visiting!).

    You are preaching to the choir re: Minaya, and all your examples are spot on.

    It’s crazy that Minaya is valued for his player evaluation “skills”, when he’s the same person who dealt Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Lee Stevens … then turned around and traded Colon for an injured El Duque, Jeff Liefer, and Rocky Biddle.

    Wow … I may have to build a post around that trade!

  11. Oscar August 14, 2009 at 2:45 pm
    The thing I like about Murphy is his ability not to strike out. When you’re on pace to strike out only 70 times in a 162 game season, you always have a shot.

    With Murph, it depends on whether or not he is able to add a slight umph to his bat-speed. When pitchers figured out his weakness, a lot of his line-drives turned into ground balls and pop-ups. If he can get those hands a bit faster, they will become liners again and he might be a valuable second baseman.

  12. wally August 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm
    wow … the ability to not strike out is the same reason I value Craig Counsell, David Eckstein, and Jason Kendall … and why I always loved Doug Flynn and Bob Bailor !

    There is one way for Murph to get those hands faster … but he’ll need to speak with Wally Joyner or Rafael Palmeiro about the proper dosage.

  13. Oscar August 14, 2009 at 3:35 pm
    Wally? Wallace Matthews? I’m not saying the man is an All-Star. But there are natural means of improving bat-speed a little bit. His ceiling, if he can do that, is still a hitter who puts up an average season of .300/.360/.460. If he plays decent second, that’s a commodity. If he can’t do that, than he’s marginal at any position.

    And I said this because his bat speed is only a touch away. He only needs a slight umph to turn some grounders into liners and push a couple more over the wall. And right now, I’d call him a .275/.330/.420 who had a very unlucky year in a harsh pitcher’s park. He’s not nearly as good as he was last year, but not as bad as he is this year.

  14. WT Economist August 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm
    The knock on the Mets is they have their share of great players but not enough good ones, particularly home grown good ones at affordable prices.

    Murphy can be a good player, if we are lucky, and he is given a chance. Perhaps Murphy and Pelfrey are in the “sophmore slump,” perhaps they stink, but the Mets will never have homegrown talent if they keep giving up early.

    Don’t forget Evans and Ike Davis, and the possibility of a platoon. If they are going to bring someone in, it shouldn’t be at the expense of another position.

    If everyone comes back healthy, I wouldn’t be against running this team out there — minus Sheffield, DelGado and Wagner — early next year, and seeing what’s up at the trading deadline.

  15. Walnutz15 August 14, 2009 at 3:56 pm
    WALNUTZ15: JANUARY 16, 2009

    While I loved what Murphy showed toward the end of last year, the Mets will be providing him with more “on the job” training in 2009….how he adjusts to a steady dose of Major League pitching remains to be seen; BUT the Mets shouldn’t NOT explore options this winter strictly on the basis of hurting Murphy’s feelings.

    They already re-signed Fernando Tatis to do that. I wouldn’t be holding out for a replication of his 2008 numbers — and am not excited about the prospect of seeing him for a prolonged period; provided Murphy does struggle.

    If the Mets can upgrade significantly, then by all means do so. Similar sentiment has been expressed by Minaya regarding Fernando Martinez being ready next year…..whoa, whoa, whoa — I’m not ready to slam on the brakes for these 2 unproven rooks just yet — especially in prime-time roles.

    See what you can do within the budget right now, as certain guys may fall below market value.

    Next year, the crop doesn’t look too promising….and who knows what kind of state the economy will be in by then. Market might recover, and these guys’ll be making ridiculous money again.

    The 2010 Free Agent class looks to be a pretty boring cast of characters, and if the financial market’s better — then why would you even run the risk of having to overpay for anybody?

    My advice: Keep lookin’ now.

  16. joejanish August 14, 2009 at 4:03 pm
    WT Economist: the answer to developing home-grown talent is not working with players with inadequate skillsets — it’s finding talent and developing it properly. I’m with you on giving Ike Davis and some of the younger players a shot, but trying to extract first base MLB production from Murphy for the sake of developing someone homegrown is not sensible. Would the Mets have gone anywhere in 2006 if they kept Jason Phillips at 1B?

    On the one hand, I agree 100% with developing from within. But as long as the Mets have NO ONE to promote for 2010, I’d be fine with seeing Wagner and Sheffield return. And though I can’t wait to see Delgado leave the Mets, his injury was the most impactful of any others this year (but I still don’t want him back).

  17. WT Economist August 14, 2009 at 8:32 pm
    I just don’t want any more reliance on two or three 34+ year olds. It’s like filling an inside straight. One you might get lucky as they have a last hurrah, as with Valentin. Sheffield might have been like that this year, if everyone had stayed healthy.

    But if we don’t have the numbers, better to keep building than keep selling what prospects we have. What are the alternatives as first base anyway? Probably another 34-year-old on the way down. I’d rather take a shot with Murphy, or a Murphy/Evans/Tatis rotation, with a possibility of I. Davis later in the year.

    As for LF, I know an easy way to get a 30 HR there without paying anything! Just move Beltran there to take the strain off his legs. Then you put F-Mart in center, and suddenly his offense won’t look so bad compared with others at his position (if he can stay healthy). If he isn’t Beltran in the field, you can swap them late in the game.

  18. MJK2 August 14, 2009 at 11:31 pm
    I simply don’t understand the animus some hacks have toward Murph. It’s simply tiresome. This piece is a hack job. It would be easier and more honest for the author to simply state he doesn’t like Murph…instead of cloaking his simply sentiment in all this pseudo-analysis…

    Murph has played first base as well as — if not better — than Delgado. Lest we forget Murph has fewer errors than the absurdly beloved D. Wright. Plus, Murph has 1 or 2 home runs less than St. David…but the chorus of contempt for Murph continues ad absurdum…

    The NY Mets are a disaster this year. Sure, I get it — it’s the injuries, right. But, it’s more than that…It’s signing Perez, Delgado, and Castillo to absurd deals. I’m not sure the Mets would ever win with Beltran either. D. Wright has proven he is a solid player, but no real leader. Bringing back Manuel has proven to be a stupid move. He has made some seriously bizarre managerial decision…his constant and silly reliance on lefty-righty match ups…Stats have destroyed the flow and momentum of modern baseball, but Manuel adds insult to injury.

    When I read stuff like this I — a lifelong Mets fan — begin to recognize that Met fans sometimes suffer from the baseball equivalent of the Stockholm Syndrome…

    But, let’s waste time discussing one of the few bright spots that the Mets have this year — Murph!! The 21st Century’s Mr Hustle!!!

  19. joejanish August 15, 2009 at 10:20 am
    Hey MJK2 thanks for stopping by and providing your insight and fancy words (animus! I love that!).

    I’m in agreement with 95% of what you wrote, which I suppose puts you on the same level as me. So join the hack club! (By the way, it’s not so bad to be a hack … it’s all a matter of embracing it. I’m a hack, it’s true, and I love it!)

    Sorry to have disappointed you with all my “pseudo-analysis” … you’re right, I just refuse to admit that Dan Murphy is the next Pete Rose, because I HATE players who hustle and play hard! That goshdarn whipper-snapper is making all the old guys look bad, and that’s embarrassing! Didn’t anyone teach that kid manners when he was growing up?

  20. Frank Quinn August 15, 2009 at 11:19 am
    This is actually exciting because MJK2 sounds like he is a REAL fan who knows and understands the game and in INTELLIGENT. Murph might be another Don Bosch BUT at least he tries and hustles and that counts alot more than unrealized talent. I like Wright but I still see Murph legging (or was it begging?) a triple against the Cubs last September and Wright subsequently striking out on a pitch in his eyes when a walk would have caused some comotion for the Cubs. I think Wright is this generations Mike Piazza in that he gets too many EMPTY RBI’s that look good in the stat sheets but do really little to help the team. So you guys go ahead and bash Murph and suck up on Wright and after Murph (and probably Parnell after last nights gem) gets traded lets see who holds up the trophy after winning the World Series Murph or Wright? I will bet on Murph unless he is unlucky and HAS to stay with the Latin mob known as the Mess. And I root hard for the Mets. But Parnell should have started all of Redding, Figueroa, Maine, and Perez’s games and maybe the Mets would be a lot better off but certainly no worse. And I like the guy in Frisco am fed up with olala Reyes antics.
  21. mic August 15, 2009 at 12:04 pm
    So lets recap:
    -Delgado COULD have been nontendered or just not had thAT 12M option picked up.

    -We could have let Ollie walk and non tendered him..We DO know that the Mets simply were NOT spenders last off season and would not have paid the 60M Lowe demanded…but in hindsight Jon Garland looks like he would have been a better choice than Ollie

    -Speaking of non spending…i still find it hard to believe the BLATANT love affair between O-dog and Omar did not result in a contract…EXCEPT jeff Wilpon was unwilling to eat $$ from the Castillo contract. As i saw somewhere else in blogland everyone has to eat a bad contract sometime.

    Ditto on the LF position.

    Conclusion: The Mets ownership were all too willing to tank from day -1 leaving the front office, players and fans flapping.

  22. Barry Duchan August 15, 2009 at 2:05 pm
    No one accused Murphy of being another Don Bosch, who was totally over his head in the big leagues (career BA of .164 and OBP of .217). The question is can a WINNING team afford to give a regular spot in its lineup to a player other than a middle infielder or exceptionally good defensive centerfielder who will not hit .280-.300, not hit 15-20 homeruns or walk a lot more than he strikes out. No one is blaming the Mets’ failure this year on Murphy or the Mets’ confidence in giving him the opportunity, but the results indicate a future as a part-timer and unless you’ve got a Mike Piazza catching or Jeff Kent at second base, a first baseman/left fielder has got to produce more than Murphy is likely to. Same goes for guys like Adam LaRoche and Casey Kotchman. That’s why they’ve bounced around. If you knew that Murphy had the potential to be the next LaRoche or Kotchman, would you be satisfied enough to hand him a regular spot in the lineup ? I wouldn’t.
  23. Frank Quinn August 15, 2009 at 3:24 pm
    Barry – I threw Don Bosch out there simply because no one remotely knows how good or bad Murph will become. I have been a die-hard Mets fan since they began in 1962 when they really stunk. They kept stinking and finally started to hang on to the ‘kids’ (i.e. Cleon Jones, Tug, Ron Swoboda, Bud Harrelson)in 1965. They still stunk but you could see the talent was coming. A few VERY astute trades (Agee and Weiss, Grote, Taylor, Charles, Taylor, Shamsky) good scouting (Koosman, Gentry, Ryan) and dumb-ass luck (George Thomas Seaver). And then BAM 1969. Then they traded (gave away?) Ryan and a promising IF/OF Amos Otis. And it has been basically downhill ever since. There were blips like in 1973 and the Cashen teams in the mid 80’s. But they just give guys away Kazmir, Jefferies, Dykstra, Mitchell, McDowell, just to name a few. I am petrified they are going to let Murph go without finding out if he is Matt Franco (whose claim to fame is he is Kurt Russell’s cousin) or Mark Grace. I am betting on the latter. And while I did not like Grace he fielded and hit well. I said in Spring Training the Mets would be lucky to win 81 games. I now think 70 would be a miracle. Just let the bad contracts expire start bringing the kids up as they are ready. Duda, Peterson, Bowman, Tejada, Ratliff, Davis, Thole, Malo, Flores among others. They have some dynamite arms (too too many to name here) coming through the system. Do not look at W/L records or even ERA. Look at innings per start, K’s per inning, ratio of walks to K’s. Trust me the talent is there. It is VERY raw and VERY young. Just let them grow naturally and do not trade them for somebody else’s problem. (i.e. JJ Putz? among others) Minaya thinks I have to do something. Sometimes no decision is the best.
  24. Frank Quinn August 15, 2009 at 3:36 pm
    To Mic – I do not think the Wilpons let the Mets, the fans, and the front office hanging out to dry. My son is a CPA with two(2) Masters degress and he has researched the whole Bernie Madoff scam and he said Sterling (the Mets) were taken for over $700,000 million in the deal. I think they also incurred start up expenses moving into their new digs. So I think they were screwed before they started. However, since Fred cheated Nelson Doubleday out of his rightful share of the Mets proceeds; perhaps the old New York axiom applies here: ‘What goes around come around.’
  25. joejanish August 15, 2009 at 5:43 pm
    Barry – thank you for clarifying the objective of this post. I’m glad someone read it from beginning to end with a rational eye and did not see it as some kind of indictment of Dan Murphy. If anything, it is an indictment on the Mets for not moving Murph to 2B or behind the plate a long time ago.

    Frank – in the beginning of your recent comment you seemed to be making an excuse for the Wilpons (getting “screwed” by Madoff) but in the end you suggest they deserved it. Curious which way you really feel.

    Here’s my take: yes, the Wilpons were stripped of a huge sum of $$ thanks to Madoff and the cost of Kiddie Field. BUT, it was the Wilpons who put their trust in Madoff, and it was the Wilpons who chose to build a billion-dollar homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers. In both situations, their main goal was to generate more revenues for themselves (unless you are one of those people who believe the Wilpons built a new stadium “for the fans”, in which case I won’t waste time arguing). In pursuit of their greedy goals, they cheaped out on the final “product” (that’s what the Mets publicly call the 25-man roster).

    If you go to a fancy new restaurant, pay $50 for a steak, and get something that tastes like shoe leather, you’d have every right to complain. Now, if the restaurant owner came to your table and explained that after paying for the nice ambience, velvet napkins, comfortable seating, shiny silverware, and exquisite china, he couldn’t afford anything other than cheap, old, tasteless meat, would you go back to that restaurant?

    The Wilpons have continually put their focus on profit, rather than the quality of their “product on the field”. And very quickly, they are damaging their “brand”.

  26. Frank Quinn August 15, 2009 at 6:30 pm
    When the Wilpons cut the seating from Shea (55,000?) to Kiddie field (I like that BTW) and it’s 38,000(?) capacity; I knew the fans were not a consideration.

    I was referring to why the Wilpons did not have any money to put into the team this year because of Madoff and the new ballpark. They did get beat by Madoff as did so many other unfortunate folks.

    But after beating Mr. Doubleday out of his fair share of what the Mets were worth; that is where the what goes around comes around came in.

    And I did read your entire article (from top to bottom) on Murph. I just felt you were being overly critical of a guy who deserves a shot to prove he belongs and tried to point out how it was unfortunate to be thrust into this position. If no injuries occurred this year and he could have batted second in front of St. David he may have seen a lot better pitches and this blog might never have occurred. How about picking on Schneider he literally stinks and really can’t catch EITHER?

  27. joejanish August 15, 2009 at 6:48 pm
    Frank, thanks for your response. I’m not being critical of Murphy — he is the antithesis of the lazy slob we saw at 1B in 2006-2008. I’m critical of the Mets putting him at 1B when he will never hit well enough to be an everyday first baseman. And that has nothing to do with the pitches he gets or his “luck” — he’s simply not physically gifted enough to hit 25 HR a year or be a perennial .300-.325 guy. You can call it critical but I call it evaluation — and that evaluation doesn’t mean I don’t like Murphy; one of my favorite players of all time was Jerry Grote, but I never expected him to be a great hitter, either.

    They should have stuck with the 2B idea, or put the catcher’s gear on him.

    The Mets have not done anything to make me believe that Schneider is part of their plans for the future. If they do, you will surely see a post about it here.

  28. Frank Quinn August 15, 2009 at 9:54 pm
    Moving forward … now how about ripping K-Rod his performance of late has been pretty lame. And he is obviously in the Mets plans with another two(2) years of this crap. I was a Heilmann fan and wanted him to close but of course I was outvoted by Chilly Willie. What a waste of a real good talent.

    Have a great weekend Joe.

  29. gollytwo August 16, 2009 at 10:11 pm
    Joe, Murphy is as able a first baseman as Delgado. He’s not a power hitter like Delgado.
    Although, it was a lovely hit tonight bring Francouer home to win in the 9th.
    I’ve read in several of your comments that the 1st baseman has to be a heavy hitter. That makes no sense to me. Why not the 2nd basemen, or third, or a couple of the outfielders?
  30. joejanish August 16, 2009 at 10:20 pm
    gollytwo, thanks for visiting and your comment.

    Very generally speaking, first base and left field are the easiest positions on the field to play. That doesn’t mean they’re “easy”, it just means they are easier than the other 7 on the diamond.

    That said, traditionally, baseball teams will put their very best hitters at one or both of those positions, regardless of their defensive ability. The reasoning is that you can give up some athleticism at those two spots as a trade-off for getting a strong hitter — preferably a power hitter — into the lineup.

    Yes, there are exceptions to this generality. But if you look at the World Champion teams throughout history, more often than not you will see a first baseman who provides significant offensive production and homerun power.

    Also — and again, GENERALLY speaking — because first base requires less defensive skill, it is usually easier to find players with quality bats who can play the position. In contrast, players who play 2B, SS, and catcher (for example), generally are focused on defense first, and teams generally value defense ahead of offense at those positions. As a result, teams do not expect tremendous offensive production from those positions (though if they get it, it’s a bonus).

    Finally, if the Mets had better offensive players in the outfield, and/or another power hitter either at 2B or behind the plate, then Murphy’s lack of offense wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

  31. gollytwo August 17, 2009 at 11:55 am
    Joe – got it! thank you
  32. Frank Quinn August 17, 2009 at 12:14 pm
    gollytwo – great insight. And for you accounting types out there – Murphy is a whole lot younger and a whole lot cheaper and is liable to get better not broken down like olala man. Also remember this Delgado did not WANT to come to the Mets as a free agent but had to be traded (at great expense) to come here.

    Another thing Mr. Joe who the hell wrote the book that said firstbase HAD to be a power position. It seems to me the Cubs had Grace at first and a pwoerhouse at second named Sandberg. Did that kind of balance out that theory. Does it really matter where the power comes from?

  33. joejanish August 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm
    Frank, first of all, I stated — and you KNOW — that these are generalities, not absolutes.

    Secondly, I also stated that for Murphy to play 1B, the lack of power WOULD have to be made up somewhere else, such as catcher or 2B.

    Hey, if you can find another Ryne Sandberg or Jeff Kent to play 2B, then maybe Murphy can stay at 1B.

    Take a look at the entire pool of MLB and MLB-ready second basemen, and see how many are power hitters. And of that group you find, how many might be available via trade. And of that group, which can the Mets trade for using pieces they already have. Figure that out, and find a place to send Luis Castillo, and then maybe Murphy can stay at 1B.

    At the same time, Murphy will have to turn into Mark Grace — and that means brandishing a Gold Glove, hitting .300-.330, and posting a .375 – .400 OBP.

    OR, the Mets have to get at least TWO power-hitting, corner outfielders. OR, they have to get Joe Mauer from the Twins AND one power-hitting outfielder. OR, they can turn their team into the ’85 Cardinals and find speedsters for all of the open positions (even that is a challenge).

    The 1970s are long gone. Bud Selig’s rules have changed this glorious game into a team version of home run derby. So it’s next to impossible to win a championship without a lineup filled with mashers.

  34. Frank Quinn August 17, 2009 at 12:32 pm
    Gotta disagree again Joe. Have you ever played the outfield? Well I played all three positions in the outfield and the corner spots are MUCH MUCH harder to play because balls hit to those spots are always sailing, slicing, and diving. A centerfielder has to be fast. It is true that teams dump power hitters in the corners to hide their defense while they score runs but try to get them out of there if games are inhand. Historically, firstbase is a power position but Grace, Wes Parker, Mickey Vernon, Ferris Fain, Joe Collins, etc. proved otherwise and Wes Parker was a mainstay on some good Dodger teams. Yes, the game has changed BUT when you find good players; you keep them and find a comfortable place for them. And Murph will be a good player someday. Just leave him alone. There will be more hits like the linedrive that won Sundays game off a lefty no less. Wow.
  35. Frank Quinn August 17, 2009 at 12:57 pm
    Homerun derby! Good phrase. My son refers to it as T-Ball which is why I no longer go to Major League baseball games. too long – too boring – too expensive – too many distractions. I go to Frisco (Texas) Roughrider games instead.

    Why do you so called experts always make these you gotta go get this guy or get rid of this guy stuff? Other teams know your strengths and weaknesses better than the Mets do. Why should any person want to take Castillo’s contract. He can’t even walk down the dugout steps. Grow your own players. Instead of disecting Murph why don’t you go through the Mets minor leagues and look at some of the jewels they will be bringing up in the next three (3) to five (5) years. Maybe Ike Davis is the next Boog Powell or Rafael Palmiero but likely he will be Roberto Petagine or Rico Brogna. We once had Jeff Kent and literally GAVE him away to Cleveland because he had red***. Hard-nosed tough character guy (and a great family guy I might add) who played hurt but no room on the Mets.

  36. joejanish August 17, 2009 at 12:59 pm
    Yes Frank, I’ve played all three outfield positions. I agree that it is easier to read the ball off the bat when playing centerfield, but I disagree that makes left and right “much much harder”. By that logic we’d see Adam Dunn in centerfield.

    Once again, you are living in the past by bringing up the names Vernon, Parker, Fain, etc. The game has changed, unfortunately. If the Mets had a lineup similar to the ’66 Dodgers today, they’d need a starting rotation headed by Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, and Tim Lincecum (since Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, and Don Sutton have retired).

    We can agree to disagree. You can build your Mets around Dan Murphy as a centerpiece, since you like him and see him as the next Pete Rose. That’s fine. I’ll build my Mets with Murphy as a super-utility / PH guy. Don Money made an All-Star team in that role, so there’s no shame in it.

  37. Frank Quinn August 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm
    I never said to build the team around Murph. I do not know where you got that from. But as the team is re-inforced (and hopefully through the minors); maybe Murph will get better or maybe we have seen his best. Remember Bob ‘Hurricane’ Hazle? All I ever said was to just give him a chance. If he never improves then you were very astute in your observation. And I am not saying that you are wrong. I am simply stating that it is too soon to tell. My living in the past is merely to pinpoint that this ‘so called book’ is not always absolute. Chris Chambliss was not a power firstbaseman but a clutch-hitter, good fielder, and others proviced the power. Or is that too far in the past.
  38. joejanish August 17, 2009 at 1:23 pm
    Frank, you are preaching to the choir re: Jeff Kent, Luis Castillo, and building from within. And I agree the Mets have no idea what they are doing, especially when it comes to drafting and development.

    The Mets ARE giving Murphy a chance — they’ve been finding opportunities for him since last July. From what I’ve seen of him, and from what I know about his minor league experience, I’ve seen enough to believe his role is as a top bench guy, not as a starting MLB first baseman.

    I like that you brought up Chambliss, because he was a guy I enjoyed watching when I was a kid. And yes, that is too far in the past — in the 1970s, Chambliss WAS considered a power hitter. Back then, if you remember, someone who hit 17-20 HRs a year was a “slugger”. Everything changed in the 1990s, with expansion, PEDs, and the rule changes designed to give the hitters dominance.

    In this day and age, I think even Mark Grace would have trouble convincing a team he’s an everyday 1B. Look at what happened to Sean Casey once he stopped hitting homeruns — he bounced from team to team and eventually out of MLB because power is a priority at 1B.

  39. Frank Quinn August 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm
    I think the Mets draft and develop players OK. I just think they are quick to throw them away if they don’t blossom as quickly as they would like. I was at a game in April 2007 on a Saturday night in St. Lucie against the Daytona Cubs. Murph played RF that night and Parnell pitched ‘lights-out’ for six (6) innings. The other seven (7) players: traded to the Reds and/or Twins. (note: Niese pitched the night before)

    Minaya needs to go because he places no value on his farm system which is sad.

    I still say it is way too early to judge Murph. I like him because of his hustle and attitude and sometimes it just takes time. If Murph was 26 or 27 I would be in 100% agreement with you. One person wrote in and said maybe Pelfry and Murph are going through some sophomore jinx.

    We’ll see.

  40. joejanish August 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm
    Well, we’ll have to disagree again … I’m not so high on the Mets’ farm system. Part of that, I do agree, has been trading players away. Interestingly, most of the minor leaguers sent away were originally brought in BEFORE Minaya (Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Heath Bell, Matt Lindstrom, etc.).

    You may be right about Murphy, I may be wrong. It’s all subjective and players are about as predictable as the weather. I don’t see Murphy’s year as a “sophomore jinx” as much as the NL exploiting his weaknesses. I wish they’d put Danny behind the plate and turn him into a Jim Leyritz type of super-utility guy, who can fill in at a different position almost every day.

    As for Pelf, I never understood the Mets’ rushing him up to MLB so quickly. This year isn’t a sophomore jinx as much as a guy who was never given the opportunity to properly learn an off-speed pitch (in the minors!). Again, I go back to baseball pre-PEDs and pre-expansion, when a kid with an arm like Pelf’s would spend 4-5 years in the minors and arrive in the bigs with at least 3 “plus” pitches.

  41. Frank Quinn August 17, 2009 at 2:35 pm
    One thing so far never discussed by anyone anywhere: personality. I think some players have the NY ‘state of mind’ in that they readily adapt to the press, the fans, the distractions, the pressure of the Big Apple. Some players don’t and shrink away from it and just dry up. I might be all wet here and I definitely have not lived in the NY area since 1982. Some examples of guys who just ate up NY and thrived. McDowell, McGraw, Hernandez, Carter, Backman, Staub, Knight, Mazzilli, Darling, Piazza, Dykstra, etc. ya-know guys like that. Guys who did not like NY or felt uncomfortable playing here: Ryan, Foster, McReynolds, Beltran, Teufel, Jefferies, Juan Samuel, Mike Marshall (firstbase not pitcher), Gooden, Strawberry.

    My son says I am crazy that money drives them but I am not so sure. I mean if I had been good enough to play I would have wanted to be George Brett. Good hardnosed player with good character got to play 20 years in a nice town like KC. He could have made tons more in NY or Chic. or LA but chose KC. Lucky guy. His attitude probably was whats a few bucks. He got his WS ring. Life is great.

  42. joejanish August 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm
    Good point Frank. Agreed — it takes a special person to handle NYC. I think that was a subject that was over-reported a few years ago but as you mention, not been addressed recently.

    I personally think that the Mets made a major mistake in paying Beltran all that money to be a superstar in NYC. He hasn’t been bad — he’s been pretty good — but he has not fulfilled the NY superstar role that his contract demands. To get that kind of money to play CF in NYC, you have to be at an A-Rod level, AND be able to handle being the #1 guy on the team. Beltran has consistently been more of a complementary player than the type who carries a team on his back, and further, he’s a ghost when it comes to the media. He would have been best served playing in a smaller market, or going to the Yankees where he wouldn’t have been the #1 guy. For the Mets, in my opinion, it was too much money spent on one player over too many years. Unfortunately, people read that and say “oh so you hate Beltran too”. No, I just don’t think he is a 7-year / $119M player. Maybe half that.

  43. Frank Quinn August 17, 2009 at 3:10 pm
    And didn’t Beltran only sign with the Mets because of the money. It seems he wanted to sign with the Yankees but the Mets offered more. I get my news in Texas so it might not be 100% accurate and up to date. If you could get in his heart I think KC and/or Houston were better for HIM. Not NY. They ate him up and he retreated. Good player but lacks that oomph.

    Another guy I liked was Paul O’Neil. Went against the union and signed with the Yanks when others offered more money. Good example of a hard nosed character guy. My kind of player. Story in Texas was he stayed with the Yanks because his wife and kids liked where they lived and went to school in Jersey. Stand up kind of guy and as you can tell I love my Mets and therefore hate the Yanks. People in Texas can’t understand the NY ‘tude. They will say to me well yeah you are a Mets fan but you still root for the Yanks in the playoffs. I say no a true NY fan picks his team and would never ever root for the other one. BTW – CHICAGO is the same as NY – Cubs or Sox but never both.

  44. joejanish August 17, 2009 at 3:25 pm
    Frank, you are correct. The Yanks were going to sign Beltran until the Mets offered a few million more. All about the money.

    I agree with you on O’Neill as well.

    Glad we finally agree on something!

  45. isuzudude August 20, 2009 at 11:04 am
    I can’t help but wonder: if Murphy were a prospect on any other team but the Mets, would Frank still think so highly of him? It seems like his point of view is blatantly biased because Murphy is home-grown. So since the Mets drafted him, he automatically becomes the next Mark Grace. Somehow I think if he were wearing a different uniform he’d be the next Matt Franco without a doubt in Frank’s mind and wouldn’t be worth trading a bag of balls for. Just another Met fan who overvalues his own prospects.
  46. Frank Quinn August 20, 2009 at 2:09 pm
    isuzudude — If Murph was a prospect on any other team I would’n’t give a hoot about him. I just thought Joe was unfair in criticizing him with less than 500 AB under his belt. He could be almost anybody Matt Franco, Don Bosch, Mark Grace, etc. who knows? I don’t think I overvalue prospects. I just don’t think giving them away for the likes of Jeff Conine, Luis Castillo, Zembrano, Jeff Benson, Billy Taylor, etc is SMART. My God man, just look at the AWFUL trades (made by many GM’s not just Omar). If developing players and moving them onto the team to WIN games (and championships) makes me an overvaluer of talent: then I confess I am guilty. I thought this had been put to bed.
  47. Rex August 24, 2009 at 12:06 am
    Saying that DWright gets a ton of empty RBIs is so stupid that it could only come from someone who says the same of Mike Piazza. I hope he starts trashing Beltran and Reyes next and continues the pattern of hating the best players who have ever worn a Met uniform since Tom Seaver.

    We need more hard-nosed clutchy guys like Joe McEwing. That;s the ticket.

  48. […] opines: Last year on this blog, I wrote about the Dan Murphy Myth. As a result of my “negativity” (I called it “realism”), many people thought I “didn’t […]