Author’s note: most of this post was written before Monday’s game. Kudos to Murph and Gee on their heroics. But it was only one game…
1984 will probably always be my favorite non-playoff Mets season. After seven years of failure, the team was very much fun to watch again and many now-legends in Met lore made their full-season debuts. Lost somewhat in obscurity however, is the re-tooling the Mets did in-season in 1984, cutting ties quickly with veteran players such as Dick Tidrow and Mike Torrez, as well as long-time Met Craig Swan well before the All-Star game. The team also relegated veterans Ron Hodges and Jerry Martin to the end of the bench, more content to give newer, fresher, faces a turn. I see a lot of 1984 on this year’s edition, including the fact that these Mets roster a few players whose time in New York has passed.
Exhibit #1 is Daniel Murphy. From 2009 until now, Murph was the quintessential good player on a bad team, kinda this era’s version of John Stearns. Both are the hard-nosed gung-ho types that kept horrific teams from losing 110 games. Stearns was “The Dude” of those early 1980’s teams; he broke Dave Parker’s cheekbone, tackled the Atlanta Braves’ outrageously un-PC mascot and set an NL record for stolen bases by a catcher. But he never hit enough (career 259/341/375 slash line) or fielded well enough to become a true star. His All-Star nominations, like Murphy’s last year, were mainly due to the fact that the Mets had to have some representation at the Midsummer Classic. Injuries ended John’s career and he is mainly forgotten as a Met, which is a real shame.
Murphy, while lacking Stearns’ combustibility, is a better hitter, but doesn’t hit enough to overcome the other holes in his game. This was OK for a team treading water (or sinking), but for a team poised to take the next step, Murphy is eminently replaceable. And the Mets have just the replacement on hand: second baseman Dilson Herrera is tearing up the PCL, a year after he tore up the Eastern League. Herrera has out-slashed Murphy the past two seasons and is a better fielder and a faster runner. I also think Murphy is nursing an injured hammy, which the team is trying to keep quiet. If they are unwilling to cut Murphy loose entirely, or trade him for some Low-A types, perhaps the Mets could DL Murph for 15 days and give Herrera a chance to Wally Pipp him.
Second on the list is Dillon Gee. The Mets looked smart at the beginning of the year for keeping Gee after Zack Wheeler went down. Despite the reprieve, Dillon has looked much like the guy he has always been: a cheap fill in on a bad team, but not a rotation arm on a team that expects to contend. Could you see Gee starting a playoff game? Me neither. Like Herrera, the Mets have such a much better option in lefty Steven Matz. You thought I was going to say Noah Syndergaard, no? Matz seems far more polished than “Thor” and looks ready to contribute now. I am starting to have my doubts about Syndergaard, on both sides of his right shoulder.
This next one pains me because we grew up in the same town, but Anthony Recker has become another relic and is most likely the first one on this list to go; which should be about the same time that Travis d’Arnaud returns from the DL. Unless the Mets feel that Kevin Plawecki is better served by getting more playing time in Vegas, I think the former Rough Rider is headed for the waiver wire. I have to give kudos to little ol’ Catasauqua for a moment: two major leaguers (Pat Kelly is the other one) in the last 30 years. Much more expansive programs in this region are still waiting for their first one.
Ruben Tejada and Bobby Parnell are two other Mets who should be renting, not buying, but they are more likely to stick through the season than the other three. The bad news for them, but good news for the Mets (and all of us) is that finally there are upgrades, instead of stopgaps available.
So what do you think? Time for Herrera and Matz? Keep or dump Murphy? Remember Dick Tidrow as a Met? Sound off below.