New York Mets: Dear Daniel Murphy, It's Time to Find Another Position—Again
The latest news out of Port St. Lucie is that Luis Hernandez has won the job at second base and is manager Terry Collins' choice to be the Opening Day starter.
Regardless of whether or not Sandy Alderson allows this to happen, one thing is certain:
It looks like Daniel Murphy is on the move to a new position. AGAIN.
2011 marked Murphy's third Major League spring training, at his third different position. The college third baseman was drafted and signed by the Mets in 2006. Two months later, David Wright signed his six-year contract extension, so Murphy was on the move...to second base.
Murphy started minor league camp in 2007 at a new position and continued to impress everyone with his bat. But the Mets went out and acquired Luis Castillo at the 2007 trading deadline. Murphy was on the move once again...to the outfield.
An injury further slowed his rise up the minor-league ranks, but when I first saw Murphy in an Brooklyn Cyclones uniform, he was primarily DHing and playing a little left field—and CRUSHING the ball. His stay in Coney Island was short, and by the end of the 2008 season he was at AAA-New Orleans, still learning how to play the outfield.
Murphy arrived at the major-league complex in 2009 with a legitimate chance to make the 25-man roster. He still had less than one year playing on the grass and was criticized by Mets fans for his lousy defense.
What should the Mets do with Daniel Murphy?
Looking for a place to put his lefty bat, the Mets brought Murphy to spring training last year...as a first baseman. He seemed poised to be the Mets' Opening Day starter, until he hurt his right knee while getting caught in a rundown in the final days of spring training. During his absence, Ike Davis arrived in Queens. Once again, Murphy was on the move...to second base.
It now appears that his time there is short-lived. Ripped again for his lack of defensive prowess at a position he's still learning, Murphy has got to be frustrated. Adam Rubin reported early in spring training that Murphy suffered a mild hamstring injury—which Murphy attributed to all of the extra reps he was taking at second base.
Despite all of this, I've never read a discouraging word in print from Murphy nor heard a sound bite of him complaining. He's done everything the Mets have asked of him, yet finds himself headed to destination and position unknown.
Perhaps the best move the Mets can make is to leave Murphy right where he is. Bring him north on the 25-man roster, let him continue to take ground balls at second every afternoon in Queens, make him the first lefty pinch hitter off the bench and let him spell Wright at third every once in a while.
Of course, there might be an opening at shortstop in the near future...
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