Is Daniel Murphy This Generation’s John Stearns?

By Sam Maxwell

Now, for all of you who experienced the years of John Stearns, let me just say off the bat that I am not comparing the exact type of player John Stearns was to the exact type of player Daniel Murphy is.

For all of you who did not experience the John Stearns Era (which would have been better with more John Stearns) the Mets catcher from 1975-1984 was the best player on what was, up to then, the lowest point in the franchise’s history post-1969. He was the lone Mets All-Star representative in years where they almost bought 100 losses a drink. Drafted by the Buffalo Bills as a defensive back as well, he ended up choosing baseball, playing the game with that football mentality and becoming a fan favorite because of it. He was also injured numerous times because of it, playing in over 100 games only 3 times in his 11-year career.  He was oddly gifted in the speed department for a catcher, stealing 15 or more 3 times. And he HATED losing. By the time the Mets were ready to win, however, Stearns had become obsolete. He played a little in September of ’84 on his way back from injury, but in the off-season, the Mets traded for Gary Carter. John, as a free agent, tried to work on his comeback in the Winter Leagues before re-injuring himself. That was basically how his attempts went for the next two years, and after spring training with the Rangers of Texas in ’86, John Stearns retired.

Jump to Daniel Murphy, who has yet to be an All-Star but certainly could have a breakout season like that at some point. He is gritty, plays hard and can hit the baseball real well. While he is not the most gifted at 2nd base, he has worked his butt off to not only become serviceable, but even flashy at some points. While his injuries have been less about giving it his all and more about incorrect positioning at 2nd, they have limited Murph as well. Barring another one (knock on wood) this will only be the 2nd time he has completed a season. While he doesn’t have John’s speed or power, Murph, much like Stearns, for me at least, is the kind of player I want and expect to be on a champion-caliber ballclub.

That might not be the way the story goes, however. Entering this off-season, Sandy Alderson has had 2 years to firmly assess the state and personnel of this franchise. With the Major League talent level in the shape it is in, he must get creative to field a better ballclub. He has said so himself. And while Daniel Murphy is a productive player, he might need to be used to get more productive players. It kills me to say that, because ever since he made his debut in August 2008, he’s been one of my favorites. I would like nothing more than for him to be the 2nd baseman holding up the World Series Trophy. But I want that World Series Trophy. Murph’s name has come up in trade ideas in the past. He’s an asset and might need to be used that way for the betterment of 2013 and beyond.

Yes, their careers are not all that similar. I have gotten the sense from people of the era who speak of John Stearns, however, that Daniel Murphy is a similar kind of bright spot who might not be here when it all finally comes together. I want to be very stubborn when it comes to keeping him around. But I gotta be practical. And unfortunately, trading Murph might be practical.

Trading Ike, however? Not practical at all.

But more on that later…

Thanks for reading! You can read Sam Maxwell’s personal Mets Blog here.