Daniel Murphy Out for the Year

Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy injured by slide of Jose  Constanza

Associated Press photo by Frank Franklin

If you missed Sunday’s game, you may not be aware that both Jose Reyes and Dan Murphy left with injuries. Reyes exited with a tight hamstring that has been diagnosed as a “day to day” issue. Murphy, however, is out for the remainder of the season with a grade 2 tear of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

This is the second time in 14 months that Murphy was seriously injured on a play at second base. If you were in the camp that wanted to see Murphy play the position, are you still of the opinion that he can / should be a second baseman?

Last June, the Mets threw Daniel into the dangerous position of playing second base at AAA Buffalo with very little experience. I say “dangerous” because it is, if one doesn’t know what he’s doing around the bag — there are runners looking to take you out on a double play attempt, for example. And I say “dangerous” because it WAS — Murphy was taken out in his second game by career minor leaguer Leonard Davis, who was trying to break up a double play.

Many people blamed Davis, calling his slide “dirty”. It wasn’t. And it wasn’t Davis’ fault. To an extent, it was Murphy’s fault for not getting out of the way. In truth, the fault was on the Mets for putting him in that position.

Fast-forward to yesterday, and once again Murphy is injured on a play at second base by a sliding runner. This time, there was no argument over whether it was “dirty” (though, at least one journalist shockingly posed the question to Willie Harris; talk about trying to stir up a story that isn’t there). There is an unfortunate similarity between the two collisions — beyond the fact they both resulted in season-ending injuries. Like last year, Murphy was out of position, and unable to get out of the way of the runner. The difference in yesterday’s injury is that Murphy was somewhat experienced at second base. Which poses the question: should Murphy stay away from playing second base?

As you may know, I’m a catcher. I teach catching and pitching — those are my realms of knowledge. I’m not a second baseman, but looking at the replay a dozen times, it looked to me like Murphy was awkwardly straddling the bag, and that his leg was in a vulnerable position. So I asked a half-dozen people who played the middle infield at either the college or pro level, and all confirmed my suspicion: Murphy’s leg shouldn’t have been there; it was fundamentally poor footwork.

Once again, I’m not necessarily blaming Daniel Murphy for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I believe at least some of the blame — again — must go to the Mets for putting Murphy into the situation. A common denominator between last year’s injury and this year’s is Terry Collins, who was the Mets Field Coordinator in 2010. In that role he had the opportunity to see a lot of the Mets minor leaguers, including Murphy. Collins is also a former middle infielder — he played 2B and shortstop in the Dodgers’ organization in the 1970s. I have to wonder if Collins felt truly comfortable with Murphy at 2B, and if he didn’t, did he have any influence on the decision to move forward with the experiment?

But it doesn’t really matter now who is to blame — Murphy’s out for the season, again. Sadly, he was in the middle of an excellent offensive season — one where he was proving he could truly hit MLB pitching. There’s no doubt he’ll come back in 2012 — the kid is too determined not to. When he does, should he include second base in his repertoire of positions? Or should he stay away from the middle infield, and hide his glove in the corners? Post your opinion in the comments.

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. Walnutz15 August 8, 2011 at 10:17 am
    Readin’ my mind, boy…..
  2. Jack August 8, 2011 at 10:48 am
    I don’t think the problem is that Murphy can’t be a serviceable second baseman (and stay healthy in the process). I think the problem is that he is moving around too much and he doesn’t know how to play any of these positions well – so he never gets a feel for any of them.

    I know people talk about Murphy maybe becoming another Mark DeRosa or something – but first he needs to learn one position, then talk about him being a jack-of-all trades. Right now he doesn’t look like he knows the right decisions to make (or the proper place to be) at any of them.

    • Joe Janish August 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm
      Jack, you are absolutely right.

      DeRosa, at least, was capable (if barely adequate) of playing shortstop before he started moving around the diamond. And by playing shortstop, he developed just about all the skills needed to handle every other infield position. Murphy, on the other hand, was a bad third baseman turned into a bad outfielder and moved to first base, where he was adequate but awkward. I still don’t understand what the thinking was that determined he could handle second base. Classic case of pushing a square peg into a round hole because the round hole was empty, rather than finding a square hole where the peg would fit.

  3. Walnutz15 August 8, 2011 at 10:54 am
    I guess I really don’t understand many Met fans.


    Rough slide – but definitely not “late”…….you also see Murphy leaving his left leg in a tough position….which obviously grew worse as he “hung in” / not anticipating that he could get killed.

    2 times in 2 years now – where he’s gotten hurt around the bag; not even counting the times he almost took out Angel Pagan (from LCF) – or Isringhausen just the other day (diving into him at 1st Base).

    Again – I don’t blame Murphy…..it’s just the nature of the beast in sticking him everywhere “on the job” because he’s never really had a position. I’m of the belief that he’s playing just to be serviceable – no matter where it is, and isn’t thinking 2 steps ahead…..which is required at the fast-pace of MLB.

    “His bat will play” – in the words of his coaches.

    …………….but “his inexperience will cause major speed-bumps.” – Me, from the time of the “Starting LF’er” talk in the winter leading into 2009.

    They did him a major disservice by rushing him through; not ever learning a defensive position. Nothing has changed; except the number next to his name on a scorecard….many times over.

  4. Joe August 8, 2011 at 11:05 am
    Collins said it was a perfectly acceptable slide.

    Murphy doesn’t belong at second base. Or the OF.

    He is passable as a corner infielder (or bench player) if his hitting holds up. He is a gamer and adds character to the team. Such people add to the team, especially if it is honestly mediocre or if they have other players to compensate. He also is DH material … he has shown an ability to hit even after being on the bench.

    Horrible injury and yeah, it’s the fault of those who put him where he didn’t belong. If Ike Davis and David Wright comes back, it is probably best to trade him.

  5. SiddFinch August 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm
    He’s a born DH. Fielding and Murph just don’t mix. I’ve never seen a middle infielder set up for a tag on a SB like he did. I don’t know if he doesn’t understand the fundamentals of defense or just lacks the ability to execute. He’s a nice player, almost a throwback to earlier Mets eras-except for the fact he can hit-but if they moved him in the offseason I woudn’t be disappointed.

    Sandy is a genius! He’ll make it work!

  6. Jimmy Prinzler August 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    That what we get for sitting down Murphy cause of lefty matchup?? Thats hogwash!!! Murphy hit well on lefties! He hit .299 against lefties this year. Deal Murphy next year to AL when hes better because we’ll have Davis back next year. He can’t play “D” and he’ll be a great DH for AL teams.

  7. Jimmy Prinzler August 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I forgot to add one important stat: Mike Minor (LHP) against lefty 10-22 including 3 extra base hits!! Why in the world you’re sitting down your BEST lefty hitter (Reyes is BEST switch hitter tho) against LHP that allowed 10 hits out of 22 AB. Minor BAA against right hitters are .263. No wonder Hairston went 0-3 against Minor. I personally dont think Collins did his homework.

    • Joe Janish August 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm
      Good points Jimmy. I think it was more a case of Collins wanting to give Nick Evans a chance than sitting Murphy because there was a LHP on the mound. Though, he could have started Evans in LF or RF.
  8. Izzy August 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm
    Sounds like another genius move by the Ivy leaguer coming our way. Story is they are bringing up Baxter and Tejada because with Murphy out there just aren’t enough guys to play the outfield and first base but who needs a back up who can play short when you can force your manager to put players in horrible situations if tejada has to leave the game. But hey, its Collins fault, never Sandy’s. Who needs a bench that can play all the positions. They didn’t play good ball in the Ivy’s anyway.
  9. Timo August 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm
    He will be missed at the plate, not in the field. However, now we can really see what Nick Evans can do. 🙂
  10. Walnutz15 August 9, 2011 at 10:16 am
    While Murphy said he believed he could not have done anything more to protect himself this time, Collins, after looking at replays of the incident, said Murphy’s positioning on the play may have played a part in the injury.

    “It’s something that reinforces the fact that these guys, as great athletes as they are, you just can’t go out there and play some position you’re unfamiliar with,” Collins said of Murphy. “I’ll talk to Dan about it, but the position his leg was in on that play — I’ve played a lot of second base, it never was in that position. He’s got to understand where he needs to be, where his feet need to be.”

    (Straight from Skip’s mouth)