Only a few days after Matt Harvey spoke about wanting to be the best and how he feels the Mets can contend in 2013, Daniel Murphy offered up some of his thoughts about what New York has done (or not done) this winter, and how he’s been getting himself prepared to play his second full year at second base.
When it came to his comments about the moves made by the organization to build the roster for this season, Murph didn’t say anything earth shattering, and stayed positive throughout. Talking about the trade of R.A. Dickey, he mentioned it would be hard to replace the knuckler on and off the field, but for the return they received, it was a deal that had to be done. The outfield being is a concern to others, but he gave a nice endorsement for Collin Cowgill, while adding that the infield may be the team’s biggest strength.
In response to the statements made by Murphy, Michael Baron of MetsBlog said exactly what I was thinking. There is no way in hell he would throw the front office and general manager under the bus for their lack of moves during the off-season. Not only is it not the right medium to do that, it’s not his place to judge off-the-field moves, especially since he just filed for arbitration the night before and would like to get a nice raise for this season. Plus, if he’s already pessimistic about the season, how are we supposed to get the least bit excited about it?
Although Murphy is known as a positive person, he said a couple of things that get me believing that the Mets could be better than a 70-75 win season. Call me the crazy optimist, but I have to hold onto something with Spring Training only a few weeks away. When asked about how he’ll be handling Spring Training this year, Murphy gave us a little insight that this year is different for him:
“I’ve still got some work to do, but I think this will be the first time I can approach spring training understanding that I’m trying to stare at 162 [games] instead of just making sure I’m going to make a ballclub or not get killed at second base. That’s nice. So spring training, it won’t necessarily be laid back. But I think it will be hopefully a little bit more mature approach, trying to make sure I’m ready for September.”
That can go a long way for a player’s confidence. Now that he has a year of playing second base under his belt, he feels a lot more comfortable at the position, which could improve his overall game. It doesn’t mean he’s going to stop working hard every day to get better, but since he’s more at peace with playing second, he’ll be able to focus on other things, like his endurance to withstand a full season, helping him be more productive and consistent at the plate. In 156 games played and 612 plate appearances in 2012, Murph hit .291/.332/.403 with 6 homers, 65 RBI, 62 runs scored, and 40 doubles.
This is not the first time this winter we’ve heard of a Mets player with positive reports about their preparations for 2013. Ike Davis mentioned earlier he’s in the best shape of his life, and that was made possible because he didn’t have to focus on rehabbing his injured ankle, like he did last year. Dillon Gee is fully healed from his serious injury last July, and has experienced the ability to recover from workouts and throwing sessions quicker than ever before. Johan Santana isn’t rehabbing an injury during the off-season for the first time as a Met, and the rest he’s getting should give him more longevity and effectiveness in 2013.
Obviously, the roster is made up of 25 guys and not the four I just talked about, but I like to look at the glass half full here. Combining the above comments with increased leadership by David Wright (now that he has his long-term extension), and the grit and determination from young players like Harvey and eventually Wheeler to make their mark, could give us something more to cheer about than we’re expecting heading into this season. Am I saying they’re going to win 95 games? No. However, just getting over .500 would show me this “plan” working; Willie Randolph and company took that small step in 2005 before they took the NL by storm the next season. There are plenty of question marks (especially in the outfield), but we’ll first have to see the final moves made to complete the roster, and then watch what kind of team chemistry they have in Port St. Lucie before we really see what this team is capable of.
I mean, I’d rather look at it this way and be excited for the upcoming season instead of the other way around, even if I’m setting myself up to be disappointed.