Oct 11

2013 Season Review: Daniel Murphy

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

DANIEL MURPHY, 2B

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS

As often has been the case with Daniel Murphy, expectations were moderate at best. If given the chance, the Mets would have replaced him, but with more pressing needs they spent their limited resources elsewhere so Murphy remained in the lineup. After several years of searching for a position, Murphy finally settled in at second base and has improved defensively. As a .290 lifetime hitter with limited power, Murphy was expected to get on base and be a table setter as opposed to being a run producer. Murphy’s lifetime 162-game average is .290 with ten homers, 70 RBI and a .333 on-base percentage. However, for his reputation for being a contact hitter, Murphy has averaged 81 strikeouts with just 38 walks, which isn’t a good ratio. One thing the Mets could expect from Murphy is durability, as he played in 156 games with 571 at-bats in 2012.

2013 SEASON REVIEW

Murphy played in 161 games and settled in as the No. 2 hitter with 113 games started batting second. However, he started games batting first through six, plus ninth in the order. With injuries throughout the lineup, Murphy was a consistent presence. Murphy posted career highs in at-bats (658), hits (188), runs scored (92), homers (13), RBI (78), total bases (273) and stolen bases (23). A strong case can be made for him being the Mets’ MVP. However, Murphy also struck out a career-high 95 times while drawing only 32 walks. For his reputation as being a patient hitter, Murphy only had a .319 on-base percentage. Murphy proved reliable in the clutch with a .354 average with runners in scoring position and two outs; .305 with the game tied; and .297 with the Mets within one run.

LOOKING AT 2014

John Delcos Says:

General manager Sandy Alderson, in listing the Mets’ offseason priorities, said he could live with Murphy at second base. With Murphy’s propensity for delivering in the clutch, if the Mets can’t add a power bat, they might go with Juan Lagares hitting second and drop Murphy to the middle of the order where he would be in more RBI situations. Murphy will never be mistaken for Roberto Alomar defensively, but is gradually improving, especially in turning the double play. With Murphy coming off his most productive season, he’ll go into spring training for the first time as an established player, and not fighting for a spot in the lineup. Conventional thinking dictates, as a player gets older and stronger, and more familiar with the pitchers, he should hit for more power. Murphy is a doubles machine – ideal for Citi Field – but it isn’t expected he’ll be a 20-homer hitter.

Joe D. Says:

As Ed Leyro recently wrote, Daniel Murphy had one of the greatest seasons ever recorded by a Mets second baseman in 2013.  He finished the year with a .286 batting average, 38 doubles, 13 homers, 78 RBI, 92 runs scored and 23 stolen bases.  Prior to Murphy, the only second basemen in franchise history to reach double digits in both home runs and RBI in the same season were Gregg Jefferies and Roberto Alomar.  But neither player matched Murphy’s totals in batting average, runs scored, runs batted in and stolen bases.  In fact, the only two players in team history who had better numbers than Murphy in all six offensive categories (batting average, doubles, home runs, RBI, runs scored, stolen bases), regardless of their defensive position, were Howard Johnson in 1989 (.287 average, 41 doubles, 36 HR, 101 RBI, 104 runs scored, 41 SB) and David Wright in 2007 (.325 average, 42 doubles, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 113 runs scored, 34 SB).

In a season that saw the 28-year old finish in the National League’s top ten in base hits, doubles, runs scored and even stolen bases, you would think Murphy’s job security with the Mets would be a slam dunk. However, given the pattern of this front office to sell high on any player who performs above major league replacement level, Murphy’s hold on second base is anything but certain. His name is often brought up as a potential trade chip this offseason by the mother ship, MetsBlog. That scares me.

Can you imagine how much worse this underwhelming offense would be without Murphy? They’ve already got their hands full trying to replace the 37 home runs from Marlon Byrd and John Buck, and if Murphy goes that will be 200+ RBIs the Mets will have to account for. In my opinion, any trade for Murphy will most likely create another gaping hole in the lineup and at best would be a lateral move that could possibly backfire. At some point we have to break this current cycle of shedding quality major leaguers not named David Wright for untested minor leaguers.

Oct 07

2013 Season Review: David Wright

david wright homers

DAVID WRIGHT, 3B

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS:

As they always are, expectations were high for David Wright, especially after a strong 2012 season, one in which he hit .306 with 21 homers and 93 RBI. And, those were numbers compiled with little protection in the line-up, at least in the first half of the season. They were also lofty because he signed a monster eight-year, $138-million deal through 2020 and was named team captain. Whenever a player signs a long-term contract, expectations are high. Staying healthy is always an issue, and if that happened Wright should have been able to meet his 162-game average of .301 with 26 homers and 103 RBI. If protected in a line-up surrounded by supposed sluggers Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, why couldn’t Wright hit 30 homers with over 100 RBI? Wright was expected to be among the league leaders in run production, and, of course, start in the All-Star Game at Citi Field.

2013 SEASON REVIEW:

Wright got off to a hot start, played in the All-Star Game, and despite little support was on a 30-homer, 100-RBI pace. However, as usual it was about staying healthy, and a strained hamstring sliced seven weeks from his season and limited him to 111 games. Nonetheless, Wright posted impressive numbers, such as a .393 on-base percentage and .909 OPS. Wright’s run-production numbers of 17 homers and 57 were paltry, but could have come close to expectations had he played a complete season. Remember, after Marlon Byrd was traded there was no protection. Wright lived up to his captaincy throughout the season. He was the go-to guy when reporters needed a comment, such as during the Jordany Valdespin fiasco. Perhaps most impressive, is with the competitive part of the season over for the Mets, Wright worked hard to get himself back to the lineup. He said he wanted to be an example for his young teammates. It is what leaders do.

CAREER STATS: 

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LOOKING AT 2014:

John Delcos Says:

A healthy Wright is an offensive force. His best years were when he was complemented in the line-up with sluggers Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. This is why it is important for Davis and/or Duda live up to their expectations and offer protection. When there was nothing to play for, Wright said it was important to return so he could get a gauge on his health. Wright might have taken a risk, but wanted to know where he stood physically as to prepare for the off-season. So, what happens? He was beaned and jammed his thumb when he fell. The hamstring does not appear to be an issue. The Mets need to surround him with productive bats, and if they do that, there’s no reason Wright can’t play up to his 162-game average and have a big year.

Joe D. Says:

This team has a lot of problems, but David Wright isn’t one of them. That said, the Mets continue to squander the prime years of his career without affording him any protection or other big bats in the lineup. Apparently, he gave the Mets an $8 million dollar, interest-free loan last Winter to help get that big bat, but it never happened. And even when they backed into some unexpected production from Marlon Byrd, the plan was to ship him off as soon possible once any value was established. I feel bad for Wright, who still believes that there’s a plan in place for this team to contend for a championship as soon as 2014. I’d love to see if Wright could ever duplicate the numbers he posted back in 2007 and 2008 when Carlos Beltran and other big-league bats complimented him. But listening to some of the names being bandied about so far, it looks like the Mets captain will have to do most of the heavy lifting himself again next season. Hopefully, when the front office does decide they are a championship caliber ballclub, Wright will still be as productive as he is now and not slipping into his career decline.

button No 5 wright

Oct 06

Mets Have Little To Offer In Trade Market

The New York Mets say they will spend on free agents this winter, in large part because they have little to offer up in the trade market.

Really, their only chance to immediately improve is to write checks.

What losing Matt Harvey for the 2014 season also does, is it greatly reduces the Mets’ inability to execute trades. In the wake of Harvey’s injury, general manager Sandy Alderson said he would be reluctant to deal Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard or any of the Mets’ other young pitching this winter to acquire the power hitter they are seeking.

Alderson said he has three starters heading into spring training – Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler – so none of them are available to deal. And, with Jenrry Mejia recovering from elbow surgery, there’s an even greater need to hold onto their pitching.

There’s nothing on the minor league level regarding position players that are major-league ready. If there’s nobody whom the Mets can bring up, that also means there’s nothing they can trade to a team that wants to add to the major league level.

On the major league level, the Mets have one star player capable of bringing something in return and that’s David Wright, assuming, of course, they could get anybody to bite on that contract.

There’s Daniel Murphy, but he won’t bring back anything in the way of an impact player or pitcher. Eric Young is a role player, while Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud are major league prospects, but if they are traded that merely creates more holes for the Mets.

What about Ike Davis and/or Lucas Duda? The Mets would like to get something for either, and don’t think for a second they haven’t been trying. Whenever Alderson is on the phone with another general manager, before he hangs up he’ll ask, “Any interest in Davis?  How about Duda?’’

When Alderson talks about the need to increase the Mets’ depth on the minor league level, he means more than just with their pitching prospects. To reach contending status, a team must have a strong farm system to not only bring up players, but also trade them to fill holes.

That’s something the Yankees, Red Sox and Braves have been doing for years. Alderson’s words aren’t ringing hollow. Improving depth in the farm system is essential if the Mets are to reach the next level. Buying players might help on a temporary basis, but it isn’t something they will be able to live on winter after winter.

 

Oct 05

Looking At Mets’ Free Agent Options For Position Players

Supposedly, with money to spend the New York Mets are scouring the free agent market to ascertain options to address their numerous issues and holes.

GM Sandy Alderson said adding to the rotation and bolstering the depth of the bullpen is a priority. Even so, Alderson has a multitude of other issues to address, with only two positions – David Wright at third base and Daniel Murphy at second – seemingly secure.

BELTRAN: An encore?

BELTRAN: An encore?

There’s a question nearly every where else:

CATCHER: Travis d’Arnaud goes into spring training the starter despite a small window of performance. Anthony Recker proved more than a capable back up behind John Buck. However, d’Arnaud and Recker together is a young combination, and a veteran back up is likely to be signed.

Free-agent catching market: The best catcher on the market is Atlanta’s Brian McCann, but that will never happen. The way McCann calls a game and his leadership capabilities would be ideal for a young staff, but that’s a dream. The Braves are built on pitching and would be foolish to let McCann go. … John Buck will be on the market, and I wonder if the Mets will attempt to bring him back. They could do far worse. … Jose Molina, Dioner Navarro, Miguel Olive are available, but neither stands out. … A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be on the market, but both will want to start.

FIRST BASE: The Mets haven’t decided between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, although speculation is they’ll choose the latter and attempt to deal Davis. Duda has shown a better plate presence than Davis when it comes to working the count and having a higher on-base percentage. However, the Mets remain seduced by Davis’ power potential and have not forgotten his 32 homers in 2012. Given they have two options, it’s unlikely they’ll sign a free agent unless they work deals for both.

Free agent first base market: The guy I am most interested in is Justin Morneau. He’s healthy and his line-drive style would be ideal for Citi Field. However, he might cost too much, but if the Mets clear the roster by dealing Davis and Duda, it might be worth it to give him a call. … Mike Napoli would also be expensive. … Mark Reynolds would provide power, but if the Mets are trying to reduce their strikeouts, he’s not the best option. … In looking at the first base market, it is easy to understand Alderson’s comments on a thin selection.

SHORTSTOP: Ruben Tejada will get every chance to regain his position, but he’s recovering from a broken leg, so there’s no telling if he’ll be ready. Omar Quintanilla was more than capable off the bench and should be invited back. … I would have liked to see Wilmer Flores play shortstop. He did some in the minors, but there’s concern about his range.

Free agent shortstop market: Yunel Escobar is out there, but the Rays have an option. … Rafael Furcal and Stephen Drew would be an upgrade over Tejada. … With Derek Jeter rehabbing for the Yankees, the Mets will get competition in the market.

OUTFIELD:  The Mets like Juan Lagares and envision him in their 2014 outfield. They also like Matt den Dekker’s defense, but wonder about his offense. The Mets’ improvement coincided with the acquisition of Eric Young, who resolved their leadoff hole. Young’s speed is an asset, but some scouts don’t have him rated any higher than a fourth outfielder. The Mets say they want power in the corner outfield spots, but if they replace Young their leadoff dilemma will resurface.

Free agent outfield market: The marquee names are Shin-Soo Chin, whom I am cool on. He’ll want a lot and I don’t think he’s worth the dollars. … Jacoby Ellsbury could turn this into a productive offense, but he’ll cost a lot. … Nelson Cruz, who is coming off a PED suspension, could be had for less than expected. … There has been talk in the media about bringing back Carlos Beltran, who should go down as one the Mets’ most productive players. Mets fans never forgave him for taking that third strike against Adam Wainwright in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, but they easily forget what he gave them over the long haul. Two years plus an option might get him back. … Also expensive, but somebody who could give the Mets the power they seek is Curtis Granderson, who made $13 million this season with the Yankees. … Another option who could be pricey, but is the kind of player the Mets should consider is Hunter Pence. … Nate McLouth, whom the Mets considered at one time, will be on the market.

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Sep 29

Mets Wrap: Putting A Bow On 2013

The New York Mets had as nice a day as they could have hoped for on the afternoon in which they said good-bye to another season steeped in frustration.

Injuries to their two best players – David Wright and Matt Harvey – lengthy slumps and a patchwork outfield and bullpen all contributed to a fifth straight losing season.

WRIGHT and PIAZZA

WRIGHT and PIAZZA

Even so, the day had an element of joy as Mike Piazza was inducted into the franchise’s Hall of Fame.

“I look back now, in retrospect, and realize it was just fate. I was just meant to be here,’’ said Piazza about playing with the Mets.

“You know, you can talk about agents and numbers and arguments and who’s right and who’s wrong. But if you look at the big picture of life, you realize that sometimes there’s just a destiny in things.

“And I truly feel it was my plan to be here, in one way, shape or form. It may not have been the most beautiful journey at the time, but it was meant to be.’’

The Mets said good-bye to their season before a capacity Citi Field crowd, the largest since the All-Star Game. First, they cheered Piazza on a sun-drenched afternoon, and then as the Mets scored twice in the eighth inning to beat Milwaukee.

The victory, coupled with Philadelphia’s loss to Atlanta, gave the Mets third place in the NL East, something Wright embraced with a yawn.

“We’re still going home (Monday),’’ Wright said. “I guess finishing in third in the Central would have been good this year, because they’re going to the playoffs.

“Like I said, that’s just those little things that if you want to use that to make you feel better about yourself, then that’s fine. I don’t necessarily think it’s all that important.
“We finished with a win. That’s always nice. But the bottom line is we’re going home, just like the majority of the teams in the National League tomorrow. There’s not too much to smile about with that.’’

Perhaps not, but it does represent some progress, enough which should give Terry Collins a contract extension. General manager Sandy Alderson will address that issue in a noon press conference Monday.

Alderson could also get questions on Harvey’s rehab from an elbow tear, and his plans to answer the questions at first base – Ike Davis or Lucas Duda? – shortstop with Ruben Tejada’s regression, the bullpen and rotation.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos