Mets May Acquire Dan Murphy Clone


If the Mets had access to stem cell technology, they’d likely have a team of scientists working feverishly in the lab on a Daniel Murphy clone. After all, the businesslike young man has been a fan favorite, is home-grown, and — most importantly — has remained healthy all season.

But of course, there is no stem cell lab at Citi Field, and the Mets’ Latin American scouting syndicate does not extend into Brazil, so cloning is not an option. However, they may have accomplished the next-best thing.

Several reports suggest that one of the two “players to be named later” in the Billy Wagner deal is a lefthanded-hitting outfielder / first baseman named Chris Carter. Here is a scouting report on Carter, from Sox Prospects:

Extremely intelligent, Carter is a real student of hitting, and has demonstrated success with the bat at every level. Excellent power with the potential for more. Hits for average and consistently gets on base at a very good clip. Hits lefties and righties well. Below average speed. In the field, Carter has spent much of his career at 1B but was moved to the outfield in 2008. He has always been known as a poor fielder, and still doesn’t look particularly comfortable at any position. He has focused on his glove and footwork and has improved slightly, but still not enough.

Aside from the power note, it sounds EXACTLY like Dan Murphy, doesn’t it? Add to it that he’s been described as “gritty”, “fiery”, and “intense” (read: “serious”), and it’s as if Murphy went into a time machine and came out three years older.

In all “seriousness”, if the Mets do indeed wind up with Carter as one of the two PTBNLs, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. All indications are that the Mets were NOT going to pick up Wagner’s option, and were NOT going to offer him arbitration — no matter how much sense either move would have made. So if one of the players the Mets get in return is someone who might be able to contribute at the big league level immediately, then it’s a good move — better than letting Wagner walk and getting nothing in return (though, I stand by my feeling that the Mets could’ve used Wags as trade bait this winter).

First, let’s talk about what Carter is not. He’s not a savior, and, at 27, he’s no longer a prospect. He’s also not very good with the glove, and has no foot speed. Finally, he wasn’t good enough to take over DH when David Ortiz faltered, and not good enough to prevent the Red Sox from trading for Adam LaRoche and then Casey Kotchman.

Now, what Carter is: a solid lefthanded hitter who has exhibited more power in the minors over the last five years than any individual in the Mets’ organization over the same period. Yeah, that’s not saying much, but it does fill a void in the Mets’ system. He is also, as mentioned earlier, both very smart and very intense. If nothing else, I like the idea of the Mets increasing their collective IQ and in adding another gritty player along the lines of Jeff Francoeur. The propellerheads can laugh all they want, but I already know the Mets are going to stink through the end of this year and all through 2010; that said, I’d at least like to be entertained. And for me, it’s more fun to watch hard-nosed grinders running through walls than sitting around calculating VORPs.

It’s possible that all Carter needs is a chance to prove himself. Heck, David Ortiz and Travis Hafner were late bloomers (though, they were likely enhanced). It’s more likely he’s another Jason Botts or Valentino Pascucci — a “AAAA” slugger. But I’ll take that right now, because the Mets don’t even have THAT type of player in their organization — at least, not one who is under 30.

Of course, this is all conjecture. It’s very possible that Chris Carter will stay put, and the Mets will acquire someone else entirely. Perhaps Jeff Wilpon is waiting to see what the blogosphere thinks of Carter, before he … er, Omar Minaya pulls the trigger (assuming the Mets have a choice of players from a small pool). If it is Carter, great — bring him in to Flushing, put him in left field, and let’s see if he and Nick Evans can pull off some kind of platoon along the likes of Swoboda / Shamsky. He may not be great, but Carter will be new. New is different, and different, in this season, is good by default. And anyway, what else do we have to look forward to this September?

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. CatchDog August 26, 2009 at 9:00 am
    BIG props to Isuzudude who picked Chris Carter a week ago. Great call. And with the trade of Wags, it’s one less subject and debate us fans have to deal with regarding his future and the pros and cons of arbitration vs draft picks.
  2. Mike August 26, 2009 at 10:12 am
    I agree, big ups to ‘dude.

    Joe I think you are merely focusing on one small scouting report synopsis on the Murphy comparison. I think Carter will make this club next year as a roaming sub, playing some days at first, some in left, and hitting 20 HRs with a .250 average. Since the Mets will pay him next to nothing (comparatively) this is exactly the kind of player they need. Add professional at-bats and a good work-ethic and attitude and I like him even more.

    The other PTBNA would probably be a hard throwing reliever from AA. Maybe Felix Doubront? I don’t know about their system too much but I know he is not a top 10 prospect. Perhaps I am reaching too high on this one.

  3. isuzudude August 26, 2009 at 10:21 am
    Thanks guys. You save me the effort of needing to pat my own back.

    But like Joe says, I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves just yet because the Carter acquisition is just a rumor at this point and not official. And all the news surrounding the Wagner deal was that the Mets were getting 2 AA players, and Carter does not fit that billing. However, I could certainly see Boston parting with Carter in this deal, as they already have plenty of 1B/DH options, and seem more inclinced to go after a slugging LF to fill the vacancy left by a departing Jason Bay this winter than let Carter try to win the job.

    I know Mike wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of getting Carter, but the likely alternatives to acquire from the Boston system aren’t very attractive either. And Carter can pretty much help out immediately, so that’s a plus. Aside from the defensive troubles, I’m not sure if I see Carter as a Dan Murphy clone, though. He definitely can hit for more power, which is a major improvement over Murphy, especially considering what positions they’re qualified to play. And since Carter is roughly 3 years Murphy’s elder, I would expect his approach at the plate to be more refined.

    There was a knock on Carter that he can’t hit lefties, though that seems to be refuted by the blurb Joe used above. However, I’m aware Carter has 0 HRs vs. LHP in the minors this year, which is slightly concerning, but he still has a solid average and OBP vs LHP, so I don’t think it’s anything that makes him a liability. If anything, he may morph into Murphy vs LHP, and be Sean Casey vs RHP. I think a player of that caliber is worth a shot. If nothing else, he provides the Mets with another 1B option for 2010, he gives them another option to fill the gap in LF while FMart continues to hone his craft and get healthy at AAA, and he gives them a cheap, somewhat versatile reserve bat off the bench. Best result: you catch lightning in a bottle and find the next Travis Hafter. Worst result: Carter becomes AAA filler for a few years and accepts his role as a career minor leaguer. Still, had to get something for Wagner, and Carter would have been a solid gamble considering the other options.

  4. acoustic567 August 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm
    Carter and Murphy might be redundant on a big-league roster, but I don’t think they’re identical. In half a season of playing 1B, Murphy shows signs of becoming an above-average 1B defensively. He’s very aggressive and has good range (too much range — he needs to leave some balls for the 2B). His defense would not keep him from being a starter if he were to become a better hitter. It’s his hitting, not his fielding, that makes him a question mark for the future.

    Carter was so bad defensively at 1B after several years of efforts to improve that the Sox put him in the OF, where apparently he was no better. Most scouts seem to suggest that he has a big-league bat, but that his poor defense is what has held him back. His minor-league power numbers dwarf those of Murphy. Keeping them both on the 25-man roster might be a bad idea, but they are not identical players.

  5. Mike August 26, 2009 at 4:20 pm
    Is it wrong to simply like the idea of someone competing with Murphy instead of handing him the job again before spring training gets going?
  6. mic August 27, 2009 at 9:03 am
    Uhh guys, Matt Murton newly DFA’d. Great oppurtunity.