Saturday, March 13, 2010

Coop's Keys to the Season - Part One

Hey Fam, it's that time again. And by "time," I mean, we have a little over three weeks till Opening Day, so it means it's time for Coop to talk shop.

Who are the Keys to the Season in 2010 for the New York National League Ballclub?

For those of you who are relatively new to this process, I usually do some quick analysis to discuss who I think will impact the team. And I would never pick an All-Star (Johan Santana) or someone obvious (David Wright). We kind of know what to expect from these folks. What I want to see are the more role-players on the team and how their performance can impact the team.

This week's topic will be Mr. Daniel Murphy. What did the five fingers say to the face? SLAP!

Sorry for the Dave Chappelle reference. I can't help but say that every time I see Murph II. Cause let's be fair, to most Mets fans, there is only ONE Murph.

I'm not going to lie to you or sugar coat it in any way. I like Daniel Murphy a LOT. I know his stats leave a little to be desired, but Mets fans tend to love players who wear their hearts on their sleeves. For a franchise that reveres players like Cliff Floyd, Benny Agbayani and Joe McEwing, why Daniel Murphy gets the hot-cold treatment from the fans is beyond me. He represents the heart of the Mets fan: he lives, breathes and eats baseball, he's hard-working and wants to succeed THROUGH working hard. Remember one of our main concerns with the Mets as they were losing in lackluster fashion in 2007 and 2008 (let's not go there with 2009): the players didn't actually seem to care, especially the player who Daniel Murphy managed to replace at 1B, Carlos Delgado (remember when Billy Wagner called him out after a loss? Nuff said). Mets fans like Daniel Murphy because he was the anti-Met during those seasons: A ray of light, a home grown guy, who showed that he actually cared. "Caring" and "doing" are two different things, but let me finish my explanation for why Daniel Murphy should be a Met contributor in 2010.

When he dropped the infamous fly ball against the Marlins last April, contributing to Johan Santana's loss that day, you could see it bothered him. When he was moved to 1B after Carlos Delgado was injured, it still wasn't his natural position, but you could see he wanted to be the best he could possibly be at it. The Mets need more players like him who want to succeed simply by DOING.

So in his first two seasons in the majors and subsequently with the Mets, his stats read as follows: .275/.331/.437. While showing some promise in 2008 for just over 130 at-bats (.313./.397/.473), in 2009, however he showed some regression to the mean (as sabers would love to say). For a full-season where he played in 155 games with 508 at-bats, Murph II was .266/.313/.427. While not terrible, I can see why some fans were calling for his head at some points.

I cry foul, and not just the batted ball type. Admittedly 2009 was a tough season to try to rally for anything related to the Mets. Most of us were mourning the loss of our beloved home Shea Stadium, and then most of us were mourning the loss of our fucking team in 2009. Even players who weren't injured were indirectly impacted by the loss of basically the entire line up. Take David Wright for example. His power numbers dropped dramatically and well, it was hard to drive in runs when there was no one on base to drive home.

What's to say that didn't happen to Murphy? He went through a lot in 2009. First, the quest to find an every day position for him in order TO play, none of them his native position of 3B. Second, his moving in the batting order. He started off batting second in the order early in the season, to being dropped to seventh when Jeff Francoeur was traded to the team.

Think about us in the working world. When our managers or bosses move us around and expect us to be flexible, there is a period of adjustment. Unfortunately for Murphy, this "period of adjustment" was in front of a bunch of blood-thirsty fans who were pissed off at their team for various reasons. When he did committed errors visibly, yes he cares, but so do the fans who wanted nothing but perfection from their players who were not affected by the injury bug. Shit, I even think that after Luis Castillo dropped the pop-up, Mets fans were more forgiving than seeing Daniel Murphy make some visible errors again AT HIS NON-NATIVE POSITION(S). Yes, multiple. But he adjusted after getting off of Jerry's Kid Shit List when he had some normalcy.

And I'd like to point out that after being moved down the order, following Jeff Francoeur who can hit at times (he just can't take walks), Murphy seemed to adjust a bit quicker into his role. All he needs is regularity. And I'm not talking the Metamucil type.

I like Daniel Murphy, and I'd be sad to see him go via trade or whatever this year, especially if it would mean rushing Ike Davis to the majors. We all know how THAT can turn out, given Mets history in rushing prospects. Let's stick with Daniel Murphy at 1B this year and see how he turns out. I think he's going to surprise us all.


Ceetar said...

I'm so not worried about Murphy.

While you can't make excuses for him last year, because there are no excuses, Manuel's treatment of him led to getting the least possible out of him. (something that could be said for pretty much every reliever sans maybe Feliciano that Manuel has managed)

He batted all over the lineup, from 4th one day to 7th the next. He was practicing at 1B early on while still trying to learn LF in games. (I still think if they have him a fair chance, he could be at least an average OF). He was rotated in and out of platoons, and worked harder and harder (and it took until August for anyone to realize that he was actually working too hard, reinforcing a bad swing).

Projected over a full season's AB, Murphy would've had about 14-15 HR last season as basically a rookie. That year of experience, plus a better lineup around him, and 15-20 seems to be almost a given.

btw, I just noticed you still linking to my blog pre-move. (Should be :-D

Bear Man said...

His home run today during the Mets' four-homer seventh inning barrage was hit off a pitcher's pitch. His power is still developing, but he sure seemed to hit that Subway sign under the Pepsi Porch quite a bit last year.

If he can go back to making the pitcher work (he seemed to always have 3-2 counts on him in '08), he can study the opposing pitcher's repertoire (Keith Hernandez would say "that's French for repertoire".) and can get a good pitch to hit. Patience at the plate now leads to a better hitter tomorrow.

I'm hoping for a .280 average, .350 OBP, 20 HR and 80 RBI from Murph II. Having Jeff Francoeur hitting behind him instead of in front of him will give him better pitches to hit due to Frenchy's protection and more runners to drive in since Wright and Bay both have good OBPs.

Glenn said...

Your points about Murphy's efforts are well-taken but at the end of the day he's still the weakest first baseman in the division. He's the second-weakest in the league (ahead of only Jeff Clement in Pittsburgh) and maybe better than 2 or 3 AL firstbasemen at most. Further, he brings no special defensive abilities to compensate for the relatively low offensive output.

In fairness to Murphy, the Mets could still compete if they had players elsewhere in the lineup to make up the comparative offensive difference...but it doesn't seem they do.

So I guess I agree that Murphy is a key to the season but no more than the holes elsewere in the lineup.