Morning Report – September 15 – Daniel Murphy, Rafael Montero, Steven Matz, Cincinnati Reds


Mark Melton on Daniel Murphy Defense -

Over the past 3 seasons, Murphy is 10th overall in fWAR with 7.5 among all MLB 2B. He has more fWAR than Brandon Phillips and Aaron Hill over that same span. In 2013 Aaron Hill signed a deal that was worth $35 million over 3 years. Brandon Phillips signed a six year deal worth $72.5 million in 2012. Heck, Dan Uggla got $50 million over 4 years. Why does it seem crazy to sign Murphy to a 3 or 4 year deal worth approximately $12 million per season? Is it because of his perceived lack of defense? If you’ve watched the Mets since Murphy became the everyday 2B, you can see an obvious improvement. During his first full season at 2B in 2012, his UZR was a disastrous -10.2. In 2013 and 2014, it’s nowhere near that, with a -4.9 UZR in 2013 and a -5.3 UZR this year. Yes, absolutely he is a negative fielder at 2B, but not all time bad. He’s about as bad as Aaron Hill, who has a UZR of -9.3 over the last 2 seasons, and Murphy has played about 700 more IP than Hill. His defense isn’t say, Mark Reynolds at 3B bad, or Adam Dunn anywhere bad, but it’s definitely below average. It’s nice to see that he took it seriously and did make a huge improvement from 2012 to 2013. http://mets360.com/?p=23042

Mack – This story goes on to say that the author feels that Murphy should be traded and the future at the Mets second base position is Dilson Herrera. I still shake my head when I think that we are talking about trading one of the pure hitters in the league on a team that is starving for hitter. What do we get back for him? A better hitter than ‘one of the true hitters’?

I got my wish. Terry Collins said that P Rafael Montero has been added to the Mets bullpen. Yes, he will get one more start before the end of the season; however, he has officially joined the Mets pen in the future.

This is big news. First, it’s the first step to spread out the excess rotation pitchers that are ready for the majors. This is far from the first time this has happened. Bobby Parnell was originally a Mets starter. So was Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia. I just wrote four pretty decent names in a bullpen that needs one more righty and two lefties to be completed.

My guess is Vic Black and Josh Edgin has two of those slots. Also, the word is that Parnell won’t be ready come opening day, so there may be room for at least one more name.

The bottom line is you don’t have to trade your top pitchers. Your excess rotation pitchers can be converted to your pen and your staff just becomes more talented.

Does this score more runs? No, but it doesn’t give up any more either.

Biggest Step Forward: Steven Matz, LHP: The stuff was never a question for Matz, who has had success at every stop as a professional. But with Tommy John surgery in his past and knee surgery this past off-season, it was important for Matz to pitch an entire year and show that he is healthy, both of which he accomplished this season. More that that, though, he also refined his mechanics, answered any questions about possibly having to move to the bullpen, had success in Double-A, and established himself as the top left-handed pitching prospect in the Mets system. Matz is now a guy the Mets can count on moving forward as they make long-term plans http://www.mlbprospectwatch.com/mlb_prospect_watch/2014/09/organization-recap-new-york-mets.html

We continue our search for a trade partner in the NL Central, this time with a look at the Cincinnati Reds.

According to Cot[i], the Reds 2014 salaries are $114,170,439.

Strangely, not one player is scheduled to leave via free agency.

Outfield wise, the contracts belong to RF Jay Bruce ($12.042/2015, $12.542/2016 – 16-HR, 60-RBI), LF Ryan Ludwick ($4.5mil/2015 - .249), and 4th utility outfielder Skip Schumaker (246-AB, .238, $2.5mil/2015). Centerfield is now held down by ex-prospect, pre-arbitration speedster, Billy Hamilton (518-AB, .264, 55-SB).

There really is only one shortstop on this team, Zack Cozart ($600K/pre-ARB, 454-AB, .225).

The Reds do have some interesting talent coming down the pipeline (OF Jesse Winker, OF Phil Ervin, SS Alex Blandino), but all are at least one to two years away.
Mack Observation – The trading of closer Jonathan Broxton to Milwaukee could mean that the Reds will be in the market for someone the Mets could help them with. Let’s face it, once Bobby Parnell returns, he, Vic Black, Jeurys Famila, and Jenrry Mejia will give the Mets four viable candidates for the closer role in Queens. Would one of these be good enough to pry away a Ludwick in a trade, or is Ludwick considered less talented than the pitchers we would have to offer in a deal like that?

Me? I’d drop a level and offer Black for Winker (20/yrs old - 2014: A+, .317/.431/.580/1.011, 13-HR, 49-RBI). They did bump him two levels to AA where he tailed off (77-AB, .208), but this is a pure hitter (15-HR/57-RBI combined A+/AA as a 20-year old this season… 16-HR, 76-RBI last year in A-ball as a 19-year old. 6-3 lefty who plays primarily left field… only 2 errors all season.


Thomas Brennan said...

Always to be considered in the equation about Daniel Murphy: while he his not a power hitter, he is a career .423 slugger. But much of that was compiled in Citi Cavern. What if the Mets SIGNIFICANTLY move the fences in next year and he picks up another 5 homers or so? A few more doubles? How does his bat look then? Unless you get a boatload, keep him and move Wright to LF, as was suggested by someone last week?

That Black for Winker deal, with Rafael in the pen, sounds good.

Also, Alderson was there for Steve Matz's brilliant gem the other night...Sandy apparently was up and applauding, and might have thought a lot harder about trading Niese and moving Matz into the opening day 2015 rotation after seeing that one. Matz firing 7 1/3 no hit innings before giving up a hit, 11 Ks in a championship game? Stepped up big time.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if Gee, Niese, Colon or Murphy will return a big bat, but they should each fetch a quality upper level minor pitcher, maybe even a bat, but the extra arms could be used as the trade inventory that allows the Mets to keep their emerging rotation in place. I think that the best time to trade each of these players will be after opening day next year because: 1. less salary and less commitment for another team to take on and 2. the Mets will likely need them to get off to a good start, as well as allow for additional time for prospect seasoning. I think it would be best to start with Colon, Wheeler, Gee, Niese and deGrom. allow Harvey to start in warm weather and conserve inning to avoid Sept shutdown, Herrara just a bit more time in AAA and allow each Noah and Matz to pass Super 2. It makes most sense to stagger Arb raises with the young arms and this also gives Nimmo and Conforto a couple of months extra to estimate their ascension to ML, not to mention Cecchini, who will never be Tulo, but definitely can rate as a solid defensive SS and I think will show next year that he has offensive upside. I am OK with starting OF of Grandy, Lagares, and MDD, with Kirk and Puello as 4th and 5th. Campbell can be corner IF back up and the one upgrade I would really like to see would be at SS. OF upgrade can come in the middle of next year or even wait for Nimmo or Conforto

Thomas Brennan said...

I like a lot of what you write, Anonymous, but with all the staggered timing of call ups, trades, etc., it seems to consign us to one more non-playoff year. Seems hard to do that and win at the same time. Maybe we have to just settle for improvement next year. But I'd like to see if Sandy can really formulate a plan to get us in the Wild Card next year. He's really got his work cut out for him this winter.

Christopher Soto said...

I would trade Montero before I traded black...

It's hard to grow effective high leverage relievers and black has been about as good as anyone in the league.

I still stand behind my premise that Montero is not suited to the bullpen and will not exceed there. The team needs to trade him this off-season

Lew Rhodes said...

Mark my words - the Mets will trade Meija this winter.

First, Sandy comes from the A's school of "closers are over rated;" so he thinks that he will get more value than Meija is worth.

Second, the mets have Parnell coming back and Famila and Black who could step in to close.

Third, Meija's antics have got to piss Alderson off -- frankly, they piss me off -- so Sandy would love to deal him.

Michael S. said...

I agree with this. I think Mejia will be a goner. Hopefully he's part of a package for a bat.

With our pitching depth, the Mets will easily fill the bullpen.

Lew Rhodes said...

As far as Murphy - I think he is at his high-water mark -- I know he is a great hitter, but I think Herrera will be a much better all around player.

I love Murph as much as anyone and am so happy he built his career, but I don't see him aging well - he will be 30 in April and if he loses just half a step, his defense goes back to atrocious.

The best use of Murphy - although the Mets owners are too cheap for this - is to keep him as a super utility player - he can play 3 infield positions and having his bat replace Wright once a week isn't a huge drop off and can keep DW fresher for the season and his career. As a super utility player, he could still get 350+ AB's a season.

Too bad the owners are too cheap for that - plus, TC is too stupid to make that work and would start Murphy over Herrera

Michael S. said...

- Winkler sounds interesting.

- If Murphy is traded, the hope is that we add top young talent to flip in another deal.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that any team would want to expend the sort of resources it would cost to keep DM as super utility. Given the scarcity of offense in the ML right now, some team is likely to give DM $10M+ annually for 3-4 years and that is quite a premium for a non-starter. also, they do have a couple of players in the minors who fit that sort of profile, though may not have the offensive ceiling of Murphy. Reynolds, Muno and Rivera might fill this role well at the league minimum and there are likely to be other players available at a more reasonable rate. It is not like the Wilpons never spent money like the Pirates (e.g), I mean as recently as 2011, they were north of $130M, but they don't have the Madoff money now, the previous expenditures saddled the team from making any meaningful additions and the current payroll is taking into account the organic increases that will take place from raises and Arb over the next 3-4 years, so if you like the pitching and want to keep Duda and some of the younger talent that have taken steps forward, you need to be prudent about spending money now and cannot extend a super utility guy for $40M+

Charles said...

It's not crazy to trade Murphy. It's simply a calculated risk made necessary by ownership's lack of financial support of their team.

The Mets are already looking at a payroll 10 million higher next season based on raises alone for just the players they have. That's already a huge issue for a team that needs better players without adding payroll.

So, what do you do? You need to find out who can be traded? Well, to me, they have strength at starting pitcher, second base, and catcher. You won't trade the catchers to shave payroll because both of your top catchers make league minimum. You can trade the more expensive starters, but your three most expensive ones happen to have the least amount of value. But at second, you have Murphy.

Murphy has value and is on the cheap side, at least for a team with a decent payroll. He also has a 20 year old, possible all star someday, right behind him on the depth chart. By trading Murphy, you could possibly get yourself a few good prospects while also shedding nearly 8-9 million in payroll.

That's why he'll likely get dealt. Because he can be. Because he may need to be in order for the Wilpon's to cover their payroll every week. Because it may be the only way to get better at another position while also remaining strong at the position you're dealing from.

Sucks, but it's a reality of playing for a big market team that's being strangled to death by a ownership that needs to be tossed in the garbage.

Steve from Norfolk said...

Lew, I think your assessment is spot on. TC would have to be told in no uncertain terms to play Herrera at @B unless he is getting a day of rest. But, the Wilpons will never pay that much for a utility player - they'll try to make do with Tejada, or Flores if we get another SS and keep him.

Michael S. said...

Spot on Charles.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that any team would want to pay that for a utility man, except for the Yanks or Sox, but even they might not shell out that sort of money for a part timer. He has value to an AL team that could move him around the IF and DH him to get a full season of ABs. I think his greater value will be next July for a team that needs an extra bat and can get a ML hitter for around $5M without a long term commitment; also likely to come from the AL.
-I think trade Colon in May or June, when Harvey has been eased back in warm weather and managed innings to avoid early shut down. Some team will be on the brink of falling apart early because a pitcher went down and Tolo at $6-7M without commitment and will be willing to pay in prospects to acquire him.
-Look to move Gee and Niese in June or July to be replaced by Noah and Matz, who will have passed Super 2 (yes, it matters and is smart management) to teams looking for stretch pitching. Both are accomplished ML pitchers and have reasonable short term commitments with the ability to extend before FA if considered long term keepers, so they also will have elevated value
-Look to move DM in July. The Mets need his 1st half bat to get off to a good start and give Herrara a little more time and also avoid a potential Tejade type (they gave me the job already sort of mentality) and also find the best suitor who needs a bat.

One thing that almost seems certain in ML baseball is that come June and July, teams across the league have definable needs for both accomplished pitchers and hitters; these players all fit that profile and with the proper suitor, will return meaningful talent in return. Thankfully, each of these valuable players have replacements ready to take their job at the league minimum, so the Mets will clear in excess of $30M of salary moving forward, get a solid return in prospects (if not a HAUL from all four) and elevate agurably your top 3 prospects in Noah, Matz and Herrara, with Conforto and Nimmo knocking at the door. This approach would require another 3 month of patience to start next year with pretty close to the same dismal offense (unless DW and Grandy rebound) but you would have your monster staff (rotation AND bullpen) in tact, your three top prospects elevated to the ML, you would have Nimmo and Conforto inside of a year to promotion, the Upper minors might even be better than it is now as a result of the vet trade returns, AND you would have about a $60-65M payroll. Toss in the fact that they are looking at the 13th pick this year and players like Rosario, Molina, Urena, Cecchini, Lupo, Oswalt, Becerra, Meisner, Morris, Gant, Gsellman and Whalen all one level higher than they are at now. I know that no one wants to hear "do nothing" but waiting two or three months of next year without doing anything drastic could see this team poised in July of next year as the team with the brightest future AND present. That is my optimistic story and I am sticking to it!

Mack Ade said...

Thomas -

Sandy has only come to Savannah one time, even though there are two direct flights from LaGuardia every day

Reese Kaplan said...

Finding suitors for Colon and Murphy will be harder than you think. Even Niese cleared waivers. Why would someone NOT want to take him at his modest salary? Both he and Gee have had health issues which might scare opposing teams.

Like it or not, your best bargaining chips are still the young pitchers who are cost controlled and arguably healthy. I'm a firm believer that no one is untouchable, though you can probably state that Harvey is off the table (but for health reasons, not loyalty to the player). If, for example, the Pirates came asking for Jacob de Grom as part of a McCutcheon package, would you hang up the phone? I sure wouldn't.

Thomas Brennan said...

I read Sandy did go to see the final AA game in Bingo. It is a shame he'd not go to Savannah at all. It would motivate the kids.

I want Anonymous, Mack, and Reese to be a three-headed replacement to Sandy!! Lots of good ideas.

Lew Rhodes said...

Reese - Colon will be attractive come January when lesser pitchers are getting very big contracts - his 190 league average innings will look very attractive at $11mm

Murphy will be very attractive for the same reasons we don't want to see him go - the guy can hit - also realize, many other teams can move him to 3rd - making him a better defender and broadening his market - he isn't just 2nd baseman

Mack Ade said...

There is nothing more for the 2014 Mets to accomplish on the field.

The important think is the right pitchers are shut down and no one becomes injured

Mack Ade said...

Anonymous makes a very good point for patience and the Super 2 situation. We didn't create this rule, but we need to find a way to live with it

Steve from Norfolk said...


Missed your post on the fences. Do you have a projected date for it. I'm sure your take on the situation will be informative.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Lew Rhodes

It was a year ago the best that was offered for Murphy was a setup guy (albeit a very good one) -- Luke Gregerson.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Winker is a fantastic baseball player and a great clubhouse guy. He's one of my favorite minor league baseball players.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hey Steve from Norfolk...my article on the fences is at noon today. It won't be in de-fence of the current fence dimensions, that much I'll say now!

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