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Daniel Murphy: Second Baseman



By Howard Megdal ~ April 21st, 2010. Filed under: Howard Megdal.

I have been writing and advocating on the radio for the better part of two years now that Daniel Murphy should be playing second base. His bat profiles out well short of a first baseman or left fielder, and third base is… occupied.

But in an organization without any real answers at second base moving forward- Luis Castillo very much a question mark even in the present, Ruben Tejada’s bat still uncertain to prove effective as a regular second baseman, and Reese Havens hurt again- giving Murphy a chance to play second base every day for Triple-A Buffalo is a no-brainer of a move.

And just weeks after setting down that Murphy is a first baseman, Adam Rubin reports that Murphy playing second base in the minors is “a distinct possibility.”

That is a far cry from actually seeing it happen, of course. Things that make sense for the Mets are constantly floated, and mysteriously don’t seem to happen, with sending Sean Green and Jenrry Mejia to the minors (for ineffectiveness and development, respectively) merely the latest examples.

Still, while it will be gratifying to see the Mets do this, it is still strange to remember that this was a move they could and should have made a year ago. Why didn’t Daniel Murphy spend 2009 learning how to play second base at Triple-A? The long-term issue was just as problematic after the 2008 season, if not worse- there was no indication Luis Castillo would enjoy the 2009 offensive success he did.

Had Murphy learned to play second base last year, he could be slotting in as a strong second base bat in 2010 while giving the Mets another option at the position to play alongside Wright, Reyes and Davis in a young infield.

Still, let’s not look for negatives. It will be a good thing to see the Mets do the right thing, even belatedly. And sending Daniel Murphy to Triple-A to play second base, even at this date, is the right thing to do.

Best of all? This doesn’t move Ruben Tejada, who should have been playing second base as the organization’s current Plan B. He’s already playing, inexplicably, at shortstop for Buffalo.

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Howard Megdal is the Editor-in-Chief of The Perpetual Post. He covers baseball, basketball and soccer for Capital New York, MLBTradeRumors.com, New York Baseball Digest and has written for ESPN.com as well as numerous other publications. He is the Poet Laureate for SBNation New York. His book about Jewish baseball players, “The Baseball Talmud,” is available for purchase on Amazon.com and wherever books are sold. His next book, "Taking The Field", is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and will publish in May 2011.

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13 Responses to Daniel Murphy: Second Baseman

  1. MetsPubRec

    Your post does bring up a dilemma, where do you put Murphy? I’m worried that if and when Murphy does return, it may be too late, with every Mets fan under twelve sporting a “Be Like Ike” T-shirt.

    Depending on how well Davis performs, Murphy’s fate may be decided within the next few weeks. Some fans I’ve talked to feel the Mets should trade him. I don’t agree considering how much time and energy the organization has devoted to him. Like I said, dilemma?

  2. Christopher Masiello

    What about MiguelTejada? He’s a way better fielder and seems like he has a little more upside.

  3. R U Kidding

    Murphy has to play,it’s that simple. He represents the Mets to so many of their fans. If second doesn’t work try catcher. The only thing that worries me is that he wasn’t very good in LF or 1B and they’re the easiest positions to play.

  4. RonOK

    Howard, I disagree with almost everything the Mets do in situtions like this, but frankly, Daniel Murphy will be a butcher in the field regardless of what position he plays.

    As a 1B’man, he was somewaht acceptable — as a LF’er he was a disaster — and as a 2B’man, albeit in a short sample in the Arizona Fall League, he was not very good.

    When asked what he considered his best defensive position to be, he himslef answered “I’m a #3 hitter” …. the guy is an AL DH at best …. to think he would be an everyday acceptable defensive 2B’man is really a stretch.

    I really like him — but he has no place on this team and will need to go in a trade — one in which the Mets hopefully get something of value back in return.

  5. acoustic567

    I think the notion that Murphy could be an adequate defensive 2B is a pipe dream.

    Murphy’s ceiling defensively at 2B is Jeff Kent — which would be tolerable if he were to hit like Jeff Kent. Which he won’t.

    If the Mets were to make a Murphy a utility player a la Tatis and include 2B as one of positions, OK. But not with hopes of making him an everyday 2B.

  6. Howard Megdal

    We’ll agree to disagree on Murphy’s defense at 1B. He was terrific out there, while learning the position on the job led to a few routine mistakes.

  7. Chris Silva

    Howard,

    I have to agree with you as Murphy played pretty well at 1B considering he’s learning it at the highest level. I don’t think anybody gives him a fair assessment on his defense as we’ve only seen him out of position. However, 1B, 2B, LF those are his positions now. Murphy is far from proving that he is a legitimate MLB player at the plate. If that area doesn’t improve it doesn’t matter about his defense. I see nothing wrong with grooming Murphy into being a Mark DeRosa type. His ability to navigate pretty well through a tough position like 1B is an indicator with some work he can be above average at other positions. This is a prime example of an impatient fanbase that like to make rash decision based on popular talking points. Also, I don’t think a stint backdown to the minors is the worst thing for him. Some guys need a wakeup call after they have early success and fall off.

  8. Matt K

    Just to be honest…I never liked Murphy. He was a nightmare in the OF, and while he MAY play 1b serviceably, he does NOT have the bat to be a 1bman.

    at 2b, I can only wonder what his hands will be like. envisioning him turning a double play with reyes is like imagining Kate Gosselin dancing with a professional dancer…. sure, you can put her in there, and even bring in some ratings cuz she’s a fan favorite, but… that’s just nasty…

    there was no mention of wilmer flores, who I would’ve projected to slide over to 2b, while locking up reyes to a long term contract. couple years when castillo’s contract is over, I would think wilmer would be in AA/AAA, so, maybe a one year stopgap before he makes his show?

    that’s what I see happening with 2b…

    as for murphy…maybe he should pick up ballroom dancing…

  9. Barry

    Howard, you’re bringing up Murphy playing 2B as if you just had a revelation. I remember when Murphy first came on the scene, the Mets had tried that in the minor leagues and it was agreed that he wasn’t good enough defensively to play that position.

    Do you really want to lose games because of poor defense up the middle?

  10. Chris Silva

    Murphy only played 17 games at 2B in 2008 for Binghamton. He posted a .950 Fielding Percentage. Just a small sample besides his short stint last year in the Arizona Fall League. I certainly don’t think that is enough time to completely toss out the idea. Also, Murphy showed good fielding playing 3B in the minor leagues which is similiar to 2B where it requires alot of range to the left & right. Turning the double play at 2B isn’t the easiest thing but Murph is a good enough athlete to do it. Remember this is a city that once watched Gregg Jefferies & Chuck Knoblauch play the position. I think its an idea to be complimented with him working at other positions as well. I think he can be good enough defensively and his bat is looking more like a 2B than the other positions. With some maturity and development I’d start think more Chase Utley with Murph than anything. Similiar talents but obviously he has a long way to go to be like Utley.

  11. Howard megdal

    Hi Barry, most revelations don’t take “the better part of two years”, as I referenced in my opening sentence.
    but Chris has it right- the Mets tried him for 17 games at Binghamton, a few games in the AFL, and that’s it. We simply don’t know what kind of 2B he will be, and we DO know he’s a poor bet to hit well enough to stick at 1B.

  12. Jay-slugan

    What is going on here? We are in a delusion here. I think murphy is a great player. do i think he needs to hit more at the plate? absolutely. But guys lets give credit when the credit is due. If they trade murphy, i will be very upset. Give this guy the credit he deserve. Also, lets see what Ike Davis will give us as a first baseman, and to be honest…i’m not fund of him yet.

  13. Brian

    I remember a kid that came up a lot earlier than he should have. Then as the whole team turned into a walking injury he remained healthy and turned out to be the home-run leader of the team. If were not for the short period in the prior season i would’ve voted for him for rookie of the year last year. I think we should give him time at second and see what he can do.

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