Friday, September 12, 2008

Daniel Murphy - Present and Future

Some good chatter over at the Flushing University message boards, where the topic has turned to Daniel Murphy's readiness for taking over the second base job in 2009. If you read the column (go back and read it now if you haven't), you will see that I don't think he's ready yet.

It's not that I don't think Murphy can hit and that he's not a player with a future. It's that I don't think he's ready to be productive major league regular. He's been great for 85 at-bats, but he hadn't played above High-A ball before this season. He still has no positon, learning LF on the fly even as his future may be at 2B.

I say put him in Triple-A next year, where he can rake a little and spend time getting familiar with second base. By August 1, he may be ready to take the position over full time, or serve as a useful utility player for the rest of the season. Murphy's true ETA is probably 2010.

Not everyone agrees, of course. Murphy has shown an ability to hit major league pitching this year and his approach is professional. He's getting good at-bats even when he's not stroking line drives and looks like the kind of hitter who can succeed at the major level. Why not give him a chance to see what he can do over a full season?

I gave my opinion on that in the column, but if Murphy is given the second base job and finds himself batting .230/.300/.340 with 10 errors on May 15, what then? Send him down to Triple-A and get him the experience he probably needed in the first place, or continue to suffer with an inadequate 2B?

The Indians did that with Asdrubal Cabrera this season - gave him the starting second baseman's job even though he wasn't ready to be a starter. By mid-June he was back in Buffalo, getting his head on straight. Cabrera started hitting again, returned to the Indians a month later and has put up a .304/.389/.439 line since. Perhaps if he had been at Buffalo in the first place, the Indians would've gotten a full season's worth of such production from Cabrera.


tim said...

It's a slap inthe face to fill your roster with the easleys and tatises and whatever 38 year old left fielder Omar finds and keep Murphy in AAA. FMart is not making it to the big city next year, he stays in AAA and Murphy's job is in New York, in LF and an occasional 2B, especially if Castillo is terrible next year. Because as I agreed with you, Castillo anin't going nowhere.

Brian said...

What makes you think that these 85 at bats are a fluke, and that Murphy will regress next year to sub-replacement level production? He has done nothing, in my estimation, to suggest that that's what will happen.

I assume that you have some reasons. One could just as easily have said in 2005 that Reyes should be in AAA come the start of 2006.

Jack Flynn said...

Nothing more than the percentages. It's exceedingly rare to see a player with no more than a half-season at AA play the next season as a major league regular and be successful doing so.

Even if Murphy is one of those rare breeds and hits around his minor-league norms in 2009, I have very little reason to believe he'll play a competent second base while doing so. He has so little experience there and it's not an easy position to learn. You mentioned Jose Reyes and I'm sure you remember some of his struggles in his one season at second. Murphy is very likely to do the same thing.

Brian said...

Indeed, I do not think that, unless he shows spectacular progress during the Winter Leagues at 2nd, that he should be playing there in the majors. If you want to argue that he's more valuable working in AAA at becoming the 2nd baseman of 2010, the Year when F! is projected to come up, then I would concur wholeheartedly.

And it is much more likely than not that he will regress to a point. But don't see Murphy ever becoming a sub-replacement level hitter. That's where I would most beg to differ.

tim said...

You tell him