Dan Murphy is a good kid and a hard worker, as Jerry Manuel said yesterday, “He has done everything we have asked of him”.
His performance at the plate has been solid and he currently wields a .320 average to go with his team leading 12 runs scored. As a table setter and number two hitter, you can’t ask for much more from a player in his first full season in the majors.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that his defense in leftfield is responsible for three Mets losses. Rather than a 6-7 record, the Mets could easily find themselves one game out of first place with a 9-4 record.
Last night was probably Murphy’s worst night in his young major league career. The misplayed fly ball that ended up being a triple that scored the winning run was just a part of it. Murphy was also out by a mile on a play to the plate, and was also picked off first base. Seeing him respond to questions during the post game was tough to watch because he’s such a grinder for the most part.
Manuel, seems to think he’ll be fine and repeated same things he said the last time Murphy misplayed an out into a triple that cost the Mets a game against the Padres.
“I guess I’m a little concerned, to be honest with you,” Manuel said. “I think he’ll be fine. I don’t see this as an on-going situation for him. I see him at some point getting comfortable out there and being able to keep the ball in front and catch the balls that are catchable. I suspect that will come with time. It seems like he’s playing a little tight … a lot of anxiety.”
Oliver Perez was as much to blame as Murphy for yesterday’s loss, but lets keep this conversation aimed squarely at leftfield for now.
The Mets knew what they were getting themselves into when they anointed Murphy as the everyday leftfielder. The lack of experience and the terrible route to the balls were all apparent last season and this spring. The Mets rolled the dice anyway.
The Mets could have signed a more experienced leftfielder, and no I’m not referring to Manny, but how good would Raul Ibanez be looking in leftfield right about now? It’s rhetorical question and it’s just a segue into the point of this post.
If Fernando Martinez is our leftfielder of the future, maybe we should consider moving up the future a little. Maybe we should see exactly how good Fernando Martinez really is. He may not hit .300 at the beginning, but can we get a .280 batting average out of him? He probably will hit for more power than Murphy, wouldn’t that be a good thing?
Murphy currently has a .795 OPS compared to .831 for F-Mart. It’s going to happen anyway… Many scouts projected F-Mart to be playing leftfield by July of 2009 last season. He was derailed a little by injuries, but was a stud in the AFL and Winter Ball in the off season, so why not make the move now?
The real question is, where does Murphy fit in on this team in the long term?
We have David Wright locked in at third base, and Nick Evans is projected to take over at first base once Delgado moves on. There was talk of Murphy playing second base, but we still have Castillo signed through 2011.
We can’t turn a blind eye to how costly his defense has been thus far. Three losses in 2 1/2 weeks can easily become a dozen losses over the course of a season. For a team that missed the post season by just one game in consecutive seasons, this is question that needs to be confronted.
The Mets could surely use a number two pitcher in the rotation.
Murphy needs to be playing either third base or first base everyday. He’s clearly not an outfielder and I’m not willing to wait for him to come around and hope for the best. He only has a temporary hold on the position until F-Mart makes his debut.
Let’s make a move for starting pitcher now instead of July, and let Dan Murphy be a centerpiece to that deal. The Mets have to get another starter who can give them more than five innings a start. Right now, only Johan Santana does that for the Mets. It won’t be long before we start to burn out our revamped bullpen if the current trends hold.
Omar, pick up the phone and get something done.