Murphy, Francesa, and the Future

An article by posted on October 7, 2009

Here is some background about me in regards to Daniel Murphy. I fully admit I am a “mark,” for him. In August of 2008, I went on mets.com and bought a blue Mets t-shirt with Mr. Met on the front and Murphy’s name and number on the back. It’s a pretty awesome shirt to be honest, and the fact I had it before almost anybody else gives me a slight sense of pride when I see how popular he has become. 

Also, I’m not an angry Mets fan this year. I look at what the Mets organization did yesterday in hitting the media outlets that their fans pay attention to and I appreciate it. They didn’t have to go on WFAN and sit with Mike Francesa who is known to be one of their biggest critics. They didn’t have to, but they recognized what happened in 2009. The people that are getting so bent out of shape and taking every single word spoken from midnight to midnight yesterday need to get over themselves. It was a bad year, it happens.

I keep reading about how people still think the Wilpon’s are cutting salary, or how the Mets should fire Omar, and all the constant rambling that has been going on since June. Here are a few things we all need to just deal with for now. 

#1 Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel are secure in their jobs unless they do something dumb before Spring Training. You know like, take their shirt off, call out reporters, ownership, all of that fun stuff. 

#2 You, me, Francesa, Carton, Boomer, Roberts and others can not say what the Mets are GOING to do with their money. We’re making decisions before they even have a chance to spend a dollar. If the Mets sit on their hands this off-season, then you have a legitimate gripe. You can’t get mad at ownership regarding their spending when they spent the 2nd most money on team payroll in 2009. We all harp on the way the Yankees go about their winning. You shouldn’t have to spend $200 million to win a World Series, and I think our past champions have proven that to us time and time again. So get off this “money” kick. 

#3 How about we wait until the playoffs end and free agents are declared? The Mets aren’t allowed to talk to players right now, trades are not happening right now either, so why are we acting like they should have signed a new LF, 1B, and starting pitcher yesterday? Haven’t the Mets always been aggressive in the trade and free agent market since Minaya came to town? If you’re being honest, the answer is yes. So they didn’t get Manny Ramirez, let’s throw a pity party. What would that have done? We still would have had 9,000 injuries this year and then on top of it we’d have the biggest steroid scandal of the season in New York, along with a 50 game suspension. Awesome. 

Okay, now that I got that off my chest. Let’s get back to Daniel Murphy. 

The question continues to get posed by Mike Francesa who if you listen, you know he really doesn’t like Murphy. He continues to wonder why Mets fans cling to Murphy. Here’s why. 

He’s our guy. Daniel Murphy was not a highly touted prospect, he wasn’t a Baseball America top prospect, but when he came up with the Mets he showed us that he knew how to play the game. He was a patient hitter. It seemed every at bat in 2008 he worked pitchers hard. He’s a guy that doesn’t have the 5 tools. He’s not fast, and he’s not the best fielder, and his power is so-so at best. He makes good contact, and he WAS a patient hitter. He needs to get back to working pitchers, and fighting for those base hits. That’s why we like him. He’s not a guy we’ve waited on to come up to the big leagues. He’s a guy that showed up in August of 2008 and played very well for a playoff contending team. He’s a guy that one the last day of Shea Stadium was out at home plate collecting dirt, because he recognized the history of that stadium.

With that said, we here in New York are not used to being patient with 24 year old players. When a player comes to the big leagues at age 24 or so, we expect them to be the next big thing. We’re used to guys like Strawberry, Gooden, Wright, Reyes over here. Over there we’re used to seeing Jeter, Cano and others hit the ground running at such a young age. I’d love to hear what Francesa and others were saying about Bernie Williams when he was 24 years old? I’m not using this comparison to say Murphy and Williams are similar players. I’m using it to say that at 24, not everybody is a superstar yet. 

Here’s a breakdown for you. At age 24, Bernie Williams hit .268 with a .333 OBP, .400 SLG, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 53 BB and 106 Ks in 567 at bats.

Daniel Murphy this year at age 24 hit .266, .313 OBP, .427 SLG, 12HR, 63 RBI, 38 BB and 69 Ks in 566 at bats. 

Now I’m pretty bad at math, but those are two ridiculously similar seasons are they not?

I’m also weak on history at times, but I’m pretty sure the old Yankee stadium was a little easier to hit Homeruns in than Citi Field is no? (Sarcasm) 

So in 1993, did Francesa sit Steinbrenner down in the studio and tell him why Williams can’t be a starting outfielder for a championship team? 

Murphy was undoubtedly given too much hype and responsibility this year. He was put onto a stage with guys like David Wright, and he’s not that kind of player. Let’s not forget though, it’s a whole lot easier for a player like Murphy at his age to be successful when he is hitting behind guys like Wright, Beltran and Delgado. It’s not so easy when Fernando Tatis is the threat a pitcher faces if they don’t get Murphy out. 

Personally, I think the Mets should get a veteran 1B who has about 2 years left in the tank. They should use that guy to work with Murphy and allow Murphy to mature with the big league club, rather than throw him in and expect great things. I’ve been a big supporter of Nick Johnson because I feel even if Johnson gets hurt here or there, that the time he spends with Murphy will be invaluable to Murphy’s future with the team. I think Daniel Murphy can be the type of player Nick Johnson has been throughout his career minus the injuries hopefully. Whether you like Johnson or not, you can’t deny the fact he is one of the best players at getting on base. If they sign Johnson to a two year deal, when healthy he’d be on base 40% of the time when the #4 hitter is at the plate, and if he gets hurt, Murphy can still step in.

I don’t know what they will do though. I could see them finding a new left fielder, #2 pitcher and going to work with the rest of the guys they’ve got. I’d rather wait and see what happens over deciding the future before the Mets even have a chance to show us what’s in store. 

I think Daniel Murphy can be a *good* major league ballplayer. Not everybody has to be a Hall of Famer. He needs to get back to the patient, on base style hitting that he showed us in October 2008 and not worry about hitting homeruns because people tell him first basemen need to hit homeruns. If Beltran, Wright, Frenchy and a new Left Fielder are hitting homeruns, then all Murphy would need to do is be on base for them to bring him home.

The next person that calls Francesa about Daniel Murphy, please ask him about Bernie Williams. Williams was a below average hitter in the big leagues from 1991 until 1995, but the Yankees stuck with him despite his performance at the plate.

I think Murphy could absolutely be a bust. It could happen, but I’m willing to see it through further than 1 full major league season to decide whether he is worthy of being in the starting lineup. Not everybody can be Rookie of the Year.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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