So here we are Met Nation awaiting another season to begin and hoping that our team comes together to replace the pain and hurt of the three previous seasons.
When Spring Training began, the Met lineup appeared set; an injury to Carlos Beltran’s knee and Jose Reyes’ thyroid condition had dampened the optimism of even casual fans.
But with Reyes’ return, and the awareness that Mr. Beltran may return sooner than the naysayers and pessimistic prognosticators originally thought, gives hope that this summer will be different than last year and the year before that, and the year before that, well, you catch my inference…
At first base, I’ve accepted the fact that the Mets have returned Ike Davis to minor league camp. Ike is our future 1st sacker. (Something even casual fans should know) He should be in the Met lineup by mid-June or July at the latest. (Hopefully, for 10 years after that.)
Strangely, there wouldn’t be this huge outpouring of love and constant argument for Ike Davis to make this roster if Daniel Murphy had truly seized the opportunity before him.
However, Murph’s development seems to have stagnated offensively this spring. Granted, many people don’t see ST as a true test, or they discount the stats wholly or in part.
When watching Murphy hit the other day via television, I heard St. Keith (Keith Hernandez) comment about how-and I’m paraphrasing – ‘Murphy just doesn’t look comfortable’, this after grounding a base hit up the middle to raise his spring average to above the .130 mark.
It was Keith’s contention that the alteration made to Murphy’s batting stance has caused that uncomfortable look…
I agree with Hernandez. What Keith wouldn’t do, is be too critical of the adjustment to Murphy’s stance. Why? Keith’s good friend, Howard Johnson, is the hitting coach, that’s why. I love HoJo too. Keith Hernandez doesn’t want to say it out loud so I will…What in the world are the Mets doing to this kid? Murphy is a line drive hitter. He went through the rough times during his rookie campaign when pitchers made adjustments to him. In the second half he made adjustments and swung the bat well during the final 2 months. Murphy has the opportunity to be a guy who hits .280-.300. In the ‘non steroid era’ with 15-20 HR power. He’s got a keen eye for the strike zone, and in Citi Field, his swing and line drive hitting translates well.
Due to the Met power outage last season, it seems the organizational emphasis has been on increasing the power throughout the lineup. You even heard Omar saying last season about “Where’s the power”?
The Mets have stated they wanted a team built on speed and defense and pitching, tailored to their home ballpark where line drive hitters will flourish…
They acquired Jason Bay in free agency to help bring some power to a lineup that sorely lacked such a threat last season. Kudos to the Mets for procuring and spending to fulfill a need.
Why mess with Murphy’s stance though? So he can hit .250-.270 and strikeout more while in the upright uncomfortable position? He’s not a tray table on a plane for goodness sake…For what? An extra 3-5 HR’s?
In the past I’ve given Howard Johnson his just due when he’s deserved credit. He seemed to have brought Jeff Francouer back from the dead last season offensively, after his acquisition.
Now, HoJo must accept the criticism and so must Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya for allowing this. Daniel Murphy has ability, I like Ike Davis more, but Murphy can hit. He’s learning first base and has done his best to learn the defensive nuances and improve his footwork around the first base bag.
If the Mets continue to insist on Murphy’s upright position in the batters box they will ruin him once and for all. Get this kid back to being the line drive hitter that he is and crouching where he’s shown that gap power and made adjustments that are conducive to his line drive swing and approach. Over emphasis on this team and player hitting HR will be an approach that will cost Johnson his job, and in turn Manuel and Minaya their jobs’ and doom the Mets to a 3rd place finish.