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 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.

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

 

Sep 27

Mets Wrap: Pitching Should Be Mets’ Offseason Priority

By definition, Carlos Torres gave the New York Mets a quality start tonight – three runs in six innings – which is usually good enough to win most starts.

However, the Mets aren’t scoring much these days, and didn’t again tonight in a second straight 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, a team they should beat.

Terry Collins started his 128th different batting order out of 160 games tonight, which is as telling a stat as there is to define the 2013 Mets. Most of that is attributable to injuries and poor performance – notably Ike Davis – but indicates a lack of offensive consistency and depth

TORRES: Could get spring training invite.

TORRES: Could get spring training invite..

The popular belief is the Mets need to upgrade their offense, which is true, but is it really their top priority?

Factoring having David Wright for a full season; improvement that comes from experience with Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker; having Eric Young for a full season; developing a consistent batting order; and, of course, the annual hope of whether Davis or Lucas Duda will find it, the Mets’ offense should be better in 2014.

Adding a bat is important, but is it imperative?

As is usually the case, pitching should be their primary concern, especially considering general manager Sandy Alderson has just three starters heading into spring training: Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler, the latter who was scratched from his final start with shoulder soreness.

Torres’ start tonight underscores the Mets’ need to add pitching. Theoretically, if the Mets pitch well their offense should improve enough to manufacture enough runs to be competitive.

The odds are long the Mets will have Matt Harvey for 2014, so they have two slots to fill in the rotation.

Torres has been valuable out of the bullpen in long relief and as a spot starter. He’s pitched well enough to get a spring training invite. What he did tonight is what the Mets need in a fifth starter, but he might be more valuable in long relief.

Saturday’s starter, Aaron Harang, should also be invited to spring training. I had my doubts, but Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched well recently and would likely also be invited to spring training.

Prior to the game Collins said he doesn’t anticipate Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard cracking the rotation coming out of spring training, which means adding a veteran arm, especially one who has a taste of playing on a winning team, should be their priority.

When Citi Field opened, the Mets said they would build around pitching, speed and defense. Power is great, but it isn’t essential in building a winner. The Mets should emphasize that mentality in constructing their 2014 team.

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

 

 

Sep 27

Mets’ David Wright Out Of Lineup With Injured Thumb

David Wright will not be in the New York Mets’ lineup tonight because of a swollen right thumb sustained when he tried to brace himself Thursday night when he fell after taking a change-up to the head.

Wright passed a concussion test Thursday and experienced no symptoms while running today.

Wright is hoping to play in the remaining two games of the season. He has played in only 110 games because after spending nearly seven weeks on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.

From a statistical nature, Wright is two homers shy of 20; three RBI shy of 60; and three points short of a .400 on-base percentage.

Brewers starter Johnny Hellweg, who had control problems all night, was extremely apologetic, almost to the point of being distraught, after beaning Wright.

Said Hellweg: “That’s the last guy on the team I want to hit. All I hear is good things about him. He’s a good guy. You don’t ever want to hit somebody in the head. It was a changeup and definitely mislocated. I feel awful he had to come out of the game. It got to me a little bit because it’s David Wright. That’s their guy. And it was in the head, and he had to come out.’’

The television cameras caught Hellweg when Wright was on the ground and you could tell the concern in his eye. Matt Cain expressed the same regretful feelings with he beaned Wright at the end of the 2009 season.

One could see the concern in their eyes after hitting Wright. After seeing that, I couldn’t help but think back to when Roger Clemens beaned Mike Piazza in a Subway Series game, and later his rage in throwing the broken bat at Piazza during the World Series.

What people tend to forget is later that game Piazza took Clemens into the upper deck.

NIESE GETS CALL: Rather that go with Daisuke Matsuzaka on short rest, Terry Collins said he’d start Jon Niese in the season finale.

That was clearly the best choice.

METS HONOR MINOR LEAGUERS: Tonight the Mets will introduce first baseman Allan Dykstra and catcher Kevin Plawecki as co-minor league players of the years. Gabriel Ynoa was named the minor league pitcher of the year.

Also to be honored are:

Pitcher Rafael Montero (Las Vegas).

Pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Jeff Walters (Binghamton).

Outfielder/third baseman Dustin Lawley (St. Lucie).

First baseman Jayce Boyd (Savannah).

Pitcher Rob Whalen (Kingsport).

Pitcher Robert Gsellman (Brooklyn).

First baseman Dominic Smith (Gulf Coast League).

Outfielder John Mora and left-hander Jose Medina (Dominican Summer League).

TONIGHT’S LINE-UPS:

Eric Young, LF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Justin Turner, 3B

Juan Lagares, CF

Travis d’Arnaud, C

Wilfredo Tovar, SS

Carlos Torres, RHP

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