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Thursday, August 04, 2011

NY Times: The Mets’ Latest Problem: Finding a Position in the Field for [Daniel] Murphy

[Daniel] Murphy’s consistency at the plate, his onslaught of singles and doubles, has buoyed the Mets while they have tried to cope with numerous injuries and several high-profile departures. Entering play on Wednesday, he was fifth in the National League in batting with a .319 average. The fact that he started the season as a role player — and that he missed all of last season with injuries — has made his ascent all the more impressive.

At the same time, he is presenting the Mets with an almost comical quandary. Just where exactly should he play considering his misadventures at any number of positions?
In a game in Cincinnati last week, Murphy, again playing first, cut off a strong throw from the outfield that might have nabbed the runner headed to the plate — with several of his teammates visibly wincing. Later he bowled over the Mets’ closer, Jason Isringhausen, to get a ground-ball out at first.

“He’s exciting,” Manager Terry Collins said of Murphy afterward with a wry smile.

NTNgod Posted: August 04, 2011 at 04:49 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets

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   1. Benji Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:10 AM (#3892411)
He plays first until Davis comes back next year, then becomes #1 pinch hitter and utility guy. He doesn't have the power to force himself into a position.
   2. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:16 AM (#3892415)

There, that wasn't so hard, was it?
   3. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:20 AM (#3892417)
He doesn't have the power to force himself into a position.

A 126 ops+ is gonna force it's way onto Citi Field somehow.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:22 AM (#3892419)
The Mets aren't good enough to have his bat at UT. Trade him to a better team, maybe AL with DH, that can benefit more.

Weird player. I think his worst position is LF (at least at Citi Field). But while his instincts are questionable everywhere, he makes nice plays at 1B, 2B, and 3B.

I didn't see Tony Phillips enough to know, but he seemed adequate everywhere. Murphy can't definitely play any position, yet makes impressive plays all over the diamond. Can't think of a precedent for that.
   5. Win one for Agrippa (haplo53) Posted: August 04, 2011 at 01:38 PM (#3892523)
How Metsian that a player can go from afterthought to useful and yet be considered a "problem."
   6. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 04, 2011 at 01:53 PM (#3892534)

Tony Phillips was a wonderful defensive player. He was stretched at SS but a superlative second baseman and fully capable of playing around the diamond.

In more recent times Mark DeRosa was also a capable defender with a decent bat. Mark was a 3 WAR player who could handle anything but centerfield or catcher.
   7. zack Posted: August 04, 2011 at 01:54 PM (#3892535)
It's a problem because Wright looks to be a poor fielder getting progressively worse.

Murphy has good physical tools, but appears to be the anti-Jeter when it comes to decision making, just having no baseball instinct. That probably explains his difficult conversion to the OF compared to the average infielder.
   8. The Essex Snead Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:16 PM (#3892554)
I can't recall seeing a player ever try so hard to do the right thing and look so bad trying to do it. I'm w/ the DH crowd; he might develop into a servicable fielder somewhere, but the Mets (even if they're on the decline) aren't the ideal place for him to learn.

Maybe the Mets should try him at C?
   9. PreservedFish Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:21 PM (#3892560)
Murphy is a very strange player. He's aggressive and he has terrific range at first. A couple days ago he made an exceptional play, charging a sac bunt and getting the out at third - I don't think there are a handful of players in the bigs that would have made the same play, and it was like a flashback to Keith Hernandez. But he'll do something boneheaded the same day.

It's a problem because Wright looks to be a poor fielder getting progressively worse.

He does. What's the deal with that?
   10. PreservedFish Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:25 PM (#3892566)
Murphy can't definitely play any position, yet makes impressive plays all over the diamond.

Juan Samuel?
   11. zack Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:28 PM (#3892570)
FWIW, I think the Mets should keep Murphy as a UT for next season, even if I agree that the Mets "aren't good enough" for a professional utility player in that sense. I just have the feeling that 500 ABs will (unfortunately) be needed across 1B, 2B and 3B. I've always had a weaker version of Sam's opinion of Murphy as a hitter, and I doubt the Mets can get enough value back to make him worth trading.

It's a problem because Wright looks to be a poor fielder getting progressively worse.

I think we all overrated him to begin with, for one. I haven't watched as much Mets ball as I normally do*, but his range has gotten statuesque, the last game I watched I saw him dive for a ball hugging the line when he was playing at the normal width (bases empty), and not make it to the ball. Am I wrong on this? I also wonder if he's had chronic concussion issues.

*decided to forgo for the first time since it existed, since I had low hopes. I've been following the Mets almost entirely through Joe Petruccio's cartoons.
   12. Ron J Posted: August 04, 2011 at 02:46 PM (#3892589)
#4 The PBP metrics loved Phillips at several positions -- in particular second and left field.

He couldn't really handle shortstop which held him up for a few years.
   13. knowledge is STIGGLES, france is bacon Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:10 PM (#3892721)
isn't the obvious solution to just trade david wright to the phillies for wilson valdez and kyle kendrick, and slot murphy in at 3B.

didn't all the defensive troubles only start because they tried to move him to a position he'd never played as soon as he reached the majors?
   14. Sam M. Posted: August 04, 2011 at 05:27 PM (#3892739)
didn't all the defensive troubles only start because they tried to move him to a position he'd never played as soon as he reached the majors?

Yes and no. His problems start when he has to think and make decisions, so they moved him off the one position where that is by far and away least likely to be an issue, third base. No position has a higher percentage of pure & simple reaction plays: get the ball, throw the ball (the vast majority of the time to the same place). Now, he's had to move around, and almost always to positions that require him to make decisions on what to do. Disaster (and/or low comedy) has followed.

I don't doubt Murphy would be better at 1b or 2b if he'd played there a bunch of games in the minors, but poor decision-making in key situations is more about how you react to the pressure of the moment than it is knowing the position. I think Murphy can work on being more relaxed in the field, maybe anticipating better what he's going to do if A or B happens when the ball is hit, and thus improve the things he's doing wrong.

As of right now, I think that the Mets' best line-up has him at 1B and Turner at 2B. When Ike Davis is back (presumably next year), and given the current talent on hand, the best line-up would have Murphy at 2B. That because I think Turner doesn't have all that much of an advantage defensively on Murphy. Tell me who you think the Mets can bring in to replace Murphy at 2B, and I'll tell you whether I think the defensive advantage would be worth it. If the answer is Ruben Tejada, my answer is not on your life.

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