New York Mets News

Time To Lock Up Daniel Murphy?

By Andrew Battifarano

Yesterday’s Mother’s Day affair looked like it was going to end up the way the previous two games against the Phillies played out for the Mets — close but no cigar.

May 11, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets second baseman

Daniel Murphy

(28) celebrates after hitting a two run homes in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Down 4-1 in the final inning, things looked over for the Metropolitans. But with a little help from Daniel Murphy’s two-run homer into the right field bullpen, the Mets cut into the lead and went on tie the game in the inning, later winning in the 11th. For a team that was nearly swept for the second consecutive series, there hasn’t been too many bright spots, namely on the offensive side of the ball.

However, Murphy has thrived throughout the early stages of the 2014 campaign, putting up an impressive .317/.367/.455. In yesterday’s walk-off win, Murphy reached base five times, a career high, according to today’s Mets game notes. While everyone else on the team has seemed to forget how to hit with runners in scoring position, the Florida native has hit .385 in RISP chances. His defense is always an adventure though, and his minus-3 defensive runs saved is not something to write home about.

But the way he has handled the bat, especially being a second baseman, leads to the conversation about Murphy getting a longer-term deal offer from the Mets. Should Murph be getting one, or would the Mets be wise to deal him and make room for a guy like Wilmer Flores?

To me, second base is an interesting position that seems to have two tiers of players. You have those in the top like Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia who put up tremendous numbers year in and year out. After those two,  there’s pretty much just everyone else, with guys like Ben Zobrist and Jason Kipnis leading the pack. Murphy is not in the same class as the two superstars in Pedroia and Cano, but he’s put up good enough numbers throughout his career to be one of the best of “the rest”.

He’s been a streaky hitter, going through impressive stretches of near-.400 hitting followed by a months of hitting close to .200. But by season’s end, Murphy’s generally hitting around the .285 mark. Murphy did have that incredible season in 2011 where he was hitting .320 before Jose Constanza ended his season, but his 2012 and 2013 years have been a little bit more down to earth, hitting .291 and .286 respectively. His consistency to post a solid average and his plus-.300 BABIP make Murphy a worthy player to have Murphy hitting in the number two slot in the lineup.

But there are some that believe it’s time to give Flores a regular shot at second base, and move Murphy to another team in favor for other pieces in a trade. I’ve always been a fan of the young Flores, and do want him to get a shot in some capacity. The thing is, I’d rather see how Flores can handle shortstop. Yes, I know Ruben Tejada had two hits yesterday, including the game-winning hit, but his last two years have just been abysmal at the plate. Flores doesn’t have much range at short, but I’m hoping his bat can make up for the lack of defensive skill.

At this point in the season, I would have thought Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud would be consistent contributors in the Met lineup. Those two have been very disappointing thus far in 2014, but Murph has not. Per Anthony DiComo, Murphy is leading the Amazin’s in WAR this year at 1.4. Putting aside the early season “controversy” of taking paternity leave, the Met second baseman has put together a fine first quarter of 2014, one worthy of All-Star candidacy in my eyes. Even if you get the occasional heart attack from his adventurous defensive play and hate his lack of power, the talk about the Mets locking up Murphy on a longer deal is warranted.

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