Daniel Murphy is the Least of the Mets’ Problems
From longtime, loyal MetsToday reader and commenter “crozier:”
Nothing, but nothing, stirs up the Mets Today forum like Dan Murphy. If he’s traded, there will be so much less to discuss!
Murphy’s OPS+ stands at 104: he’s nobody’s MVP, but he isn’t terrible. His 87% SB quotient suggests he isn’t an idiot in the running game. If he improves his plate discipline next year, and improves his defense – I’m not saying this is too terribly likely, but it wouldn’t be miraculous, either – he would be a legitimately above average player. So yes, I can see him being attractive trade bait. But despite the lack of love in this community, he hasn’t been a disgrace, and there are much bigger issues to deal with in 2014.
I agree with Crozier. Nothing stirs up the MetsToday pot like a Daniel Murphy discussion. And yes, there will be so much less to discuss here if Murph is jettisoned during the offseason. And yes, he’s nobody’s MVP. And yes, if by some miracle Murphy can improve both his OBP and defense, he’ll be an above-average player.
Has he been a disgrace? Debatable; it all depends on what you value in a ballplayer. If it’s purely offensive numbers, then no. If it’s enthusiasm, no — one thing no one can ever fault Dan Murphy for is his enthusiasm, energy, and hustle. As for fundamentals, defense, and “headiness,” well, maybe “disgrace” is not the right word, but there’s enough to argue.
But a very big question, to me, is crozier’s last comment: are there much bigger issues to deal with in 2014?
On the surface, sure, it’s easy to say, “Dan Murphy is the least of the Mets’ problems” — because the Mets have so many gosh-darned problems. But this has become a tired, perpetual argument; people have been defending Murphy, and saying he’s “the least of the Mets problems” since around the time a baseball bounced off his glove in left field, costing “team leader” Johan Santana a ballgame.
This phrase “Dan Murphy is the least of the Mets’ problems” has become so common and prevalent, I’m starting to wonder if Dan Murphy EPITOMIZES the Mets’ problems.
Though I shouldn’t pick out Murphy specifically, because I’ve read and heard the same thing in reference to other Mets. Such as:
“Bobby Parnell is the least of the Mets’ problems.”
“Omar Quintanilla is the least of the Mets’ problems.”
“Ruben Tejada is the least of the Mets’ problems.”
“Lucas Duda is the least of the Mets’ problems.”
“Ike Davis is the least of the Mets’ problems.”
“Josh Satin is the least of the Mets’ problems.”
At some point, the madness has to stop, and we have to say, “hey, exactly WHAT or WHO IS the Mets’ problem?” And/or, we have to look at all of these “least” problems, add them up, step back, and realize that all of these issues are the Mets’ problem.
Having a DH play second base isn’t a major problem? OK. How about having a DH play second base, no power production at three of the four corner positions, and a gaping hole at shortstop? Is THAT a problem?
The Mets need to find bona fide solutions at five positions on the diamond — and that’s assuming one or both of Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker fill center field the way we all hope. There is no “least” or “most” when it comes to this, and in fact, it could be argued that the two middle positions — second base and shortstop — are the priority. After all, winning teams tend to be “strong up the middle” and premium players at those positions are difficult to find.
Five or ten years ago, when players were juiced up and teams scoring 5-7 runs a game, it didn’t matter so much to have a less-than-solid player playing a premium defensive position — the homeruns made up for the defensive and fundamental gaffes. But PEDs testing has reverted the game back to where it was in the mid-1970s to mid-1980s, when an everyday “big leaguer” needed to be at least average if not strong in every aspect of the game — and if he wasn’t, he needed to have one well-above-average tool, such as speed, defense, or homerun power. A team could live with Dave Kingman at 1B or LF because he hit more homeruns than nearly everyone else. They could live with Garry Maddox‘s bat because no one played a better center field. Omar Moreno had a job despite a sub-.300 OBP because he ran faster than just about anyone and played a strong center field. Bud Harrelson and Mark Belanger couldn’t hit a lick but played every day they were healthy because they were stellar-fielding shortstops, executed bunts and both sides of the hit-and-run, and rarely made fundamental mistakes. I could go on and on, but you get the gist — to win in MLB today, a team can’t have flawed players. Maybe it can’t find a Belanger or a Harrelson to play shortstop, but at the very least it needs to find a Craig Reynolds. Maybe it can’t fill 1B with a Kingman or a Keith Hernandez, but it can get by with a Dan Driessen — someone who may not be a star, or have a spectacular tool, but can ably execute every aspect of the game for which he’s responsible.
In my mind, you can’t dismiss or defend one piece of the Mets’ biggest problem — which is having flawed players at every position other than third base, center field, and catcher. And I might be generous or optimistic in assuming that Travis d’Arnaud is the answer behind the plate, and Lagares/den Dekker will ably fill center field (not to mention the pitching staff looking acceptable enough to compete in ’14); perhaps this is a rare moment of cynicism falling by the wayside.
First base, second base, shortstop, left field, and right field — together — are the Mets’ most glaring problem. As a whole. It’s a package. For the Mets to compete for the postseason in 2014, all five spots need to be addressed and improved considerably over what they have currently — there is no “most” or “least.”
Your thoughts? Sound off in the comments.