Reese Kaplan - Can You Hear Me Now?

Ever since the Madoff boondoggle ushered in the new austerity, the Mets have conditioned fans to expect very little when it comes to free agent acquisitions or blockbuster trades.  Yes, there are folks caught up in the Troy Tulowitzki buzz, but that’s primarily because we have budget-envy and contention-envy when we watch other clubs actually taking action to improve their rosters while Sandy Alderson seems unable or unwilling to make any changes.

The one that was most galling to me of all was not the refusal to gamble on the big ticket free agents or the marquee players like Matt Kemp who will have a new address this season.  No, the Mets have worn me down and made me understand (if not quite accept) the “we’ll spend when we win” message.  The one transaction that got my blood boiling was an under-the-radar type move by the World Champion San Francisco Giants who needed to replace Kung Fu Panda at 3rd Base when he jumped ship to sumo-wrestle David Ortiz at the Boston buffet table.  They had a glaring hole left by Pablo Sandoval’s departure and decided to fill it with 32 year old journeyman Casey McGehee who resuscitated his career last year with the Florida Marlins.

Now if the Giants had filled the hole with a quality hitter like Aramis Ramirez or Martin Prado or someone of that ilk, I’d have nothing to say.  Hell, even if they called the Yankees and worked out a deal for A-Rod to take over at 3rd for them, I’d still at least understand the logic.  However, they went after a guy who was savoring sushi as a member of the Rakuten Golden Eagles after flaming out with the Brewers, Pirates and Yankees.

Now did he return from Japan with a Cecil Fielder-like flourish?  Well, not exactly.  He hit a respectable .287, though the second half of the season he was pretty much invisible.  His run production was not exactly Ruthian – just 4 HRs and 76 RBIs while leading the league in one thing – grounding into double plays.  Bear in mind he batted cleanup for a team that included other formidable bats like Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna.

Now the Mets happened to have a guy who came up as a 3rd baseman whose career major league average season would include 10 HRs, 69 RBIs, 12 SBs and a .290 average while hitting in the 2nd spot in the batting order.  Did Sandy Alderson contact the San Francisco Giants to say, “Hey, I’ve got this All Star named Daniel Murphy who might help fill the void for you there at 3rd Base!”?

Mets fans are left to wonder what exactly Alderson and his army of high priced assistants actually do except wait for the phone to ring.  Since there’s no clear evidence of them searching for deals to clear payroll and get ANYTHING back for someone likely to walk as a free agent at year’s end anyway, let’s once again take a look at possible new homes for Murphy.  After all, as Branch Rickey taught us, it’s better to deal someone a year too soon than a year too late.  While a commission is probably out of the question, maybe Sandy can at least send us all here at Mack’s Mets a cap or a t-shirt or giant foam finger for putting the ideas out there for him to ponder.  As far as what to take in return, I'll leave that to the minor league prospect gurus on the Mets payroll to figure out (with the exception of the Rockies proposal below):

After dealing away longtime stalwart Howie Kendrick, the Angels appear to be going into 2015 with Josh Rutledge manning 2nd base.  If you look at his major and minor league numbers, Murphy is a superior player.  Pick up the phone.

Slugger Matt Dominguez at 3B may turn out to be a late bloomer but his numbers in the majors thus far are pretty ugly.  He whiffed at a rather prodigious rate throughout his minor league career, so that trend likely isn’t going to improve in the majors.  Last year he batted just .215.  Make a call.

Old buddy Billy Beane is set to hand the 2nd base job to Eric Sogard, a lefty “hitter” with Tejada-like attributes of no power, no speed and a .223 average.  Drop a quarter in the pay phone (assuming you can find one outside of the Smithsonian).

Blue Jays
Ryan Goins is listed as number one on the depth chart at 2nd base – he of the .213 batting average last season.  If your cell phone plan includes Canada, spend a Loonie to reach out and touch someone in the Toronto front office.

The Washington club is turning once again to former infield standout Danny Espinosa to play 2B for them.  While his glove is as good as ever, he’s a right handed hitter whose skills seem to have vanished as he posted a mere .219 average last year and is only a .238 career hitter (albeit with some power).  Maybe call your Senator to intervene on your behalf and extoll the virtues of a New York resource who can help improve things in DC.

The boys in Baltimore really think Jonathan Schoop and his .209 average are the answer to their 2nd base situation?  Really?  Also, their surprisingly productive year from Steve Pearce, right handed hitter at 1st base, may not repeat and they might need a guy who could platoon or backup there, too.  While you’re at it, mention that with the departures of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis they might want to look at a certain left handed outfielder who could be their $15.7 million per year solution for the next three years in Camden Yards.  Hey, you never know if you don’t ask.

One thing’s for sure, GM A.J. Preller is not averse to making changes.  He’s got an outfield now that’s as good as anyone’s in baseball with Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp.  Unfortunately his infield is something of a laughingstock by comparison.  Neither Jedd Gyorko nor Will Middlebrooks produced as much as Murphy did last year.  Ring his chimes.

While they appear ready to blow it all up and start over, the fact remains there’s still a 162 game schedule to play.  The likelihood Chase Utley will be available for the majority of it ranks right up there with betting Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez or Michael Cuddyer will, too.  Furthermore, Cody Asche is not exactly Evan Longoria out there.  They could use Murphy at 3rd and shift him to 2nd when Utley hits the DL.  He could also cover 1st when Ryan Howard does his DL stint, too.  For a call to the city of brotherly love, can you spare a dime?

Since you’re allegedly talking already about their pair of oft-injured sluggers, how about pointing out that DJ LaMahieu is not exactly the second coming of Joe Morgan out there at 2B?  Allegedly the Mets turned down a Murphy for Luke Gregerson trade when it was offered in the past.  Maybe now it’s time to inquire about Rex Brothers to get that 2nd lefty for the pen and to get out from under Murphy’s arbitration-inflated salary.  If your flip phone supports texting, send a link to Murphy’s All-Star Game photo.

The Bronx Bombers are the team where rookies seem to get even less opportunity than they do under Terry Collins.  Right now they have Jose Pirela scheduled to be the new Robinson Cano.  His minor league line reads a lot like Murphy’s major league line.  They might feel better with a proven commodity.  This one is perhaps the best option of all.  After all, it’s just a local call.


Thomas Brennan said...

Great article, Reese.

Hard to believe there is not a value-added deal for Murphy in that group. Sandy will probably refrain, since charges for text messages may apply.

Lew Rhodes said...

Reese I agree with you to the extent that Murphy has value, but I think Murphy builds value as the season goes along - more than he has now.

When one of those teams are one bat away from the play-offs with a gaping hole at 2nd / 3rd, guess what - they will over pay for Murphy.

Right now, those teams are not play-offs teams (Phillies, Padres, Astros, A's and Rockies) they aren't going to trade for a guy only under control for one year - why would they? That knocks five teams off of your list.

If things go crazy and they go all 2014 Royals, then maybe they will trade for a guy like Murphy.

The other 5 teams likely think that they are good enough to compete without giving up much value for a guy like Murphy today.

So, come June when Herrerra is tearing up AAA and (hopefully) Murphy is having a year like last year, and these teams have a gaping hole Murphy can fill - then someone will overpay (a la Wheeler for Beltran)

Also, let's look at this - Herrerra is a whopping 20, he may regress this year - he was solid before last year, but nothing like last year - so while I think he is the real deal, no one is for sure.

So, what happens if we trade Murphy and Herrera regresses? Do we hope Reynolds is ready? He also only has one solid minor league season - which may have been the product of an inflated BABIP.

That is a long way of saying that there is not a sure fire Murphy replacement -- and, in a season where the Mets have play-off aspirations, you can't trade away one of your best hitters until you know you can replace him.

Lastly - tell me why the Giants would trade prospects for Murphy when they could sign McGehee for free? That is a well run organization - they wouldn't offer a lot for Murphy if they think McGehee can give 75% for money only.

In summary - yes, Murphy has value, to the Mets and to others - however, I think if things break right Murphy's value to the Mets will decline and his value to teams will increase.

In my opinion, now is a bad time to trade him.

And, let's look at this angle too - Murphy could be supplanted by Herrera and become the Mets super utility player this season - he would excel in that role and keeping him may give the Mets the best chance of making the playoffs this year

Reese Kaplan said...

They gave two prospects to get McGehee from the Marlins. It was not a FA acquisition. One of them had the unfortunate luck of being named Luis Castillo :)

Lew Rhodes said...

Didn't know that about McGehee - then a call would have made sense - I am glad we didn't trade for Luis Castillo!

I still think Murphy's peak value is mid-season

Thomas Brennan said...

As long as it is not "I got it, I got it, I ain't got it" Castillo, any trade will do!

Reese Kaplan said...

Hmmn...today over at SB Nation they started a series on teams with holes and they picked up on a familiar theme -- a great many AL squads in need of a 2nd baseman.


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