With 11 days before pitchers and Molinas report, let’s quickly examine the #11 question to be answered during Mets spring training: how will the wheels of the right side of the infield heal?
Tag: dan murphy
With 14 days — yup, just two weeks — before pitchers and Molinas report, we examine question #14 that needs to be answered during Mets spring training: who is going to play second base?
To be clear, this was not a rumor that Olney heard, but merely an idea that he proposed as realistically plausible. This isn’t the first theory focused on a trade of Murphy to another club; in fact there have been several this winter. But let’s consider this — would the Mets trade Daniel Murphy, and if they did, would they get a worthwhile return for him?
What to do with Dan Murphy? That’s the burning question in Metsville.
After posting a .320 AVG, .360 OBP, and .809 OPS, Dan Murphy has convinced many that he can hit. But can he field? The jury is out, as there are differences in opinion. Some point to his sparkling UZR as evidence of his ability to play first base. Others insist that his sample size at the position is not large enough to rely on UZR, and still others who have no idea what UZR is saw an awkward first baseman who often looked confused and made frequent mental lapses that overshadowed any positive aspects of his defense.
And then there is the matter of Murphy at second base, a position he seems unable to play without hurting himself. For the second year in a row, Murphy sustained a serious injury due to improper footwork around the bag. We’ve already seen that the outfield is a similarly dangerous place for Murphy to be; although he never hurt himself out there, we saw enough to think he might. He’s probably safest at
The biggest competition in Port St. Lucie last March was at second base, where Luis Castillo, Dan Murphy, and Brad Emaus auditioned for the starting position. Oh, there was mention of Justin Turner, but the scrappy utilityman was written off fairly early; even the names Luis Hernandez and Chin-lung Hu were ahead of Turner on the depth chart. Mainly because he still held an option, it was a foregone conclusion that Turner would start the season in AAA and be summoned only if some kind of catastrophe occurred at the keystone.
In fact, the Mets were so certain of how things would turn out in the middle of the infield, Emaus was listed as their second baseman on the MLB All-Star ballot.
Funny how the best laid plans of mice and Mets often fall astray …
I know conventional wisdom says the Mets, a financially strapped team that is at least another season away from contention, should almost certainly hold on to a guy like Daniel Murphy, but I can’t help but think they’re best off trading him this winter.
First and foremost, this is assuming the Mets have completely buried the idea that Daniel Murphy can be an everyday second baseman (or at least the better half of a platoon). In which case, Murphy is most valuable as an everyday third baseman. By keeping Murphy on the bench, the Mets fail to maximize his utility. In other words, for those not familiar with economic jargon, he’s more valuable to another team than he is to the Mets, so long as David Wright is still around.
Of course, a lot of people contend that Murphy would prove quite useful and accumulate plenty of at-bats as a “super-sub.” While the whole Ryan Freel-esque “super-sub” idea sounds really good in theory, it’s flawed and doesn’t really jive with the composition of the current Mets roster.
For one, even if it were the case that Murphy could collect 300-400+ at-bats in a utility role, that still doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s more valuable to another team where he’d accumulate 550-600 at-bats. In other words, an average everyday player provides more value than the best utility player. It’s the same reason why it’s usually ill-advised to move a valuable starting pitcher to the bullpen. (In fact, moving an everyday player to the bench is probably worse; at least pitchers are almost guaranteed to improve their performance if converted to relief. Many hitters’ productions would suffer with more sporadic playing time).
Further, the Mets would be hard-pressed to find playing time for Murphy as a backup. Murphy can play first and third reliably, but David Wright — barring injury — will play every day unless a brutal slump necessitates he take a day off. Ditto Ike Davis, and both Murphy and Davis are left-handed, so he can’t even spot Davis occasionally against a tough southpaw like Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels.
Murphy can probably play second occasionally, so there’s that. Than again, we’ve seen what happens when Murphy only plays second every now and then. He can maybe — maybe — play the corner outfield, though, like Davis, he and Duda are both left-handed. Murphy’s defense will undoubtedly negate a lot of his value in the outfield, so it isn’t that hard to find a fourth outfielder, ala Scott Hairston, that could provide similar value.
Which begs the question, what really is the value of Murphy’s versatility? While Murphy’s offense (.750-.800 OPS.) is definitely an asset at second — and given the declining state of third base, at the hot corner as well — he doesn’t really provide much value anywhere else. Like I said, fourth outfielders aren’t that hard to find. Murphy’s offensive production is below average for first basemen, and there are plenty of AAAA mashers out there who could probably provide the same offensive production at first. And we’re only talking occasional playing time, so marginal differences in value don’t really make a huge difference
Perhaps I’m being naïve here, but the whole value of versatility seems pretty overblown. After all, instead of counting on one guy to be your backup at almost every position, wouldn’t having a solid fourth outfielder, a slick-fielding middle infielder, and a backup first baseman/pinch hitter extraordinaire accomplish the same thing? Maybe having a super-utility guy allows the team to carry an additional bullpen arm, but a National League team still has to carry at least a four-man bench regardless.
Some people will argue that the Mets should keep Murphy around in case Wright/Davis/Bay/Duda or whoever gets injured. But it’s stupid to keep Murphy around solely because of the possibility that someone might get hurt (especially since none of those players are particularly injury-prone), at the expense of trading him for say, another starter, an outfielder, etc. that you know will play everyday.
Again, if the Mets think Murphy can hold his own at second base, then it makes a lot more sense to hold onto him. His UZR last season was actually quite good at second, although we’re talking about a very small sample size. Having seen his past two seasons derailed by injuries at second base, I imagine the Mets are quite skeptical.
This is also assuming the Mets don’t, of course, trade David Wright instead. At the very least, however, I don’t expect Wright to be dealt before the beginning of the season. Because his 2013 option is voided if he’s traded, Wright’s a one-year rental this year, and a one-year rental the following year to the team that trades for him, and it makes little sense for the Mets to trade him now, as Wright is coming off his worst season and the walls are finally being moved in to accommodate Wright. Although, on the flip side, if Wright merely repeats his 2009-2011 performance, despite the new Citi Field dimensions, his value will not hold steady, but further decrease, since such a season would pretty much confirm the fact that Wright will never re-approach his 2005-2008 MVP-caliber seasons.
What exactly could Murphy fetch in a trade? It’s hard to say, but given production at third base is the lowest it’s been in over a decade, now might be the best time to capitalize on his value.
If the Phillies fail to sign Michael Cuddyer, Murphy could be a very attractive option for the Phils. Murphy appeals to the Phils for the same reasons they are interested in Cuddyer: he could play first base until Ryan Howard returns, and replace Placido Polanco at third, and even occasionally play left or second. Ideally, the Phillies would want a right-handed bat to balance out their lefty-laden lineup, but otherwise, Murphy certainly dovetails with what the Phillies are looking for.
What could the Mets get? Here I think are a few potential options.
Daniel Murphy for Vance Worley
I think a Murphy for Vance Worley swap could benefit both teams. Worley isn’t as good as his 3.01 era. last year indicates, (3.66 xFIP) but a potential cost-controlled number three or four starter is still quite valuable.
Ok, this might be a bit too optimistic on my part. The Phillies situation with Brown, however, reminds me a lot of the Mets situation with Lastings Milledge four years ago. Not to say Brown will be a bust like Milledge, but Milledge was a similarly highly regarded prospect at the time the Mets dealt him. The Phils appear to have soured quite a bit on Brown the past season, and do not seem willing to commit to him as their everyday left-fielder next season. As the Mets did by trading Milledge to the Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, the Phils would be trading Brown’s potential for two more dependable (not to mention cheap) options for next season, at two areas they could use improvement at (first/third base and bullpen). It wouldn’t be the first blunder Ruben Amaro’s ever made.
What do you think? Does it make sense to keep Daniel Murphy around? Why or why not? Let’s discuss in the comments.
It’s Angel Pagan Day at MetsToday; this is a post by Dave Gogel, so please direct your feedback to him. — Joe
2010 was a banner year for Angel Pagan. He was finally healthy and getting an opportunity to play, and Pagan took full advantage. He produced a sexy slash line of .290/.340/.425 to go with 11 bombs, 69 RBI, and 37 stolen bases. Pagan also played a golden quality center field, making the cavern seem a bit smaller. His production had many a Met fan giddy and gave the anti-Beltran clan more ammo. Not only was he finally healthy, but his penchant for terrible baseball decisions in the field on the base paths were no longer apparent. So did the Mets have a late bloomer on their hands, and someone to hold the fort in center while some of the kids developed?
The Mets claimed Baxter off waivers from the San Diego Padres on July 22 earlier this year. He was batting .256 (10-39) with four runs scored, two triples, one home run and five RBI in 11 games for the Bisons after batting .438 (7-16) with four RBI in four games for St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League.
Baxter, a Whitestone, Queens native, had surgery earlier this year to repair ligaments in his left thumb injured during Spring Training. Before being claimed by the Mets, Baxter had appeared in 11 major league rehabilitation games with Lake Elsinore (A) of the California League. Baxter began his rehabilitation on June 8, batting .278 (10-36) with one double and two RBI.
The 26-year-old appeared in nine games with the Padres last year, collecting one hit and one RBI in eight at-bats.
Baxter starred at Archbishop Molloy in Queens before teaming up with Tampa Bay Rays lefthanded pitcher David Price at Vanderbilt University.