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Daniel Murphy


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PORT ST. LUCIE - Daniel Murphy is the baseball equivalent of a gym rat. He never wants to leave the field, and mostly hasn't since we last saw him 4-1/2 months ago when the 2008 Mets and Shea Stadium had their mutual swan songs. For all we know, he was the last one out the door.

 

From there, Murphy reported directly to the Arizona Fall League to try his hand at second base, a position he may or may not be destined for in the Mets' long-term scheme of things. From Arizona, Murphy was supposed to go to the Puerto Rican winter league, where he was slated to go back to left field, but a hamstring injury gave him an unwanted two-month reprieve from baseball.

 

The Mets' pitchers and catchers reported for spring training Friday - nearly two weeks late, according to Murphy time. Even though the position players are not due to report until Tuesday, Murphy has been here since Feb.1, honing his batting swing with whatever batting-practice pitcher he can find, lifting weights, running in the outfield and itching to get started.

 

There are a lot of things you can say about this 23-year-old Jacksonville native. He's a workaholic. He's seemingly a natural born hitter, with a classic lefty swing. He's versatile, or at least willing to be. He's an eager, dedicated young player on the come. He's a manager's dream.

 

There is one thing, however, he is not, and that's Manny Ramirez.

 

Nevertheless, the Mets high command apparently saw enough in the 49 games Murphy put in for them last year after being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans Aug.2 (after just 259 at-bats of minor league apprenticeship) to convince them that, while sharing time with Fernando Tatis, he can at least perhaps be a half of Manny. Okay, we all know that's a stretch, and maybe the Mets will come to really regret passing on Manny this season, but, for his part, Murphy believes their faith in him is well-placed.

 

"My dad reads all the New York papers every day and all this winter he kept calling me and saying, 'I think they're gonna get Manny,'" Murphy was saying Friday before the Mets' voluntary workout. "Any time the organization shows faith in me, it's very rewarding and I'm confident Tatis and myself will be able to provide them what they need. I just want to help this team."

 

In a combined 302 at-bats last year, mostly as the Mets' left fielders, Murphy and Tatis hit .302 with 13 homers and 64 RBI. The Mets are hoping this established left-field platoon can double that production. Tatis is more of a power hitter. Murphy hit only two homers for the Mets, but had 26 in his 259 minor league at-bats, and the club is confident his power will come.

In a lot of ways, he reminds you of Don Mattingly at the same age. Mattingly, too, was primarily a gap hitter when he arrived in the big leagues in 1983, and there were questions as to whether he would hit for enough power at first base. In the spring of 1984, then-Yankee manager Yogi Berra declared that Mattingly would be his "swing man," alternating between left field and first base. "I don't know how many homers he'll hit," Berra said, "I just know he can hit."

 

When I suggested to Mets manager Jerry Manuel Friday that there were seemingly a lot of similarities between Murphy and Mattingly, his eyes widened.

 

"That's quite a comparison," Manuel said, "but you're right insofar as the tremendous work ethic, that classic (lefthanded) swing and the willingness to play anywhere. When it comes to the power with Daniel, that's what you hope happens - just like it did with Mattingly. I think it will come because he's going about everything in the right way. He's shown me he can be the perfect guy for this club, fitting right into the core."

 

Assuming that does happen, the question remains just where Murphy ends up playing. Some in the organization see him as the second-base successor to Luis Castillo (Murphy played 17 games at second in the minors last year at his request), and Mets GM Omar Minaya has suggested he may ultimately wind up at first base.

 

"I don't really care where I end up," Murphy said, "as long as I'm playing. The way I look at it, whatever the lineup says, that's my position that day."

 

There could, however, be a danger in that. There are a lot of people around the Mets who also say that Murphy reminds them of Joe McEwing, another grinder type who earned his keep at Shea for five seasons (2000-2004) as a super sub. But nobody ever looked at McEwing as an everyday player.

 

When asked if he didn't want to be labeled a utility man, Murphy said: "Everybody wants to have a set position. But in the end, I just want to be whatever I can to help the club win."

 

For this season anyway, being half of Manny would more than suffice.

 

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  • 1 month later...

This kid is tied for 3rd for the most Spring Training AB's in MLB (73) and is hitting .356 with a .415 OBP. I know that it's still a small sample, but I'm downright giddy to see what he's going to do when the games matter. Only Rick Ankiel has equaled his average in all of MLB with at least 70 ABs. But to be fair, a couple of players with mid-60's AB's have a bit higher batting averages.

 

I really can't wait until the games start!

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He needs a lot of work on his defense, and until he picks that up, I don't see him getting that much playing time.

 

 

Good to see you are on top of things, Ditto. :P Where are you seeing the knocks on his defense? He's been fine in left so far.

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He certainly can't be much worse than Ryan Church.

 

 

After watching Shawn Green play right field, I would not be one to criticize Church's defense. One thing Church has shown is a gun, though. He's had some pretty impressive outfield assists. Shawn Green was downright awful out there.

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Plus scouts have said his play in left has considerable improved and he has learned to throw like a pitcher than a third baseman. I think he will be fine. I am also excited about Nick Evans. He probably wont start in the majors which is good because Buffalo is coming to Scranton mid April and hope to see guys like him and F-Mart.

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After watching Shawn Green play right field, I would not be one to criticize Church's defense. One thing Church has shown is a gun, though. He's had some pretty impressive outfield assists. Shawn Green was downright awful out there.

 

I was talking offensively. Church is a fine defender.

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Good to see you are on top of things, Ditto. :P Where are you seeing the knocks on his defense? He's been fine in left so far.

Okay, one play. But he misjudged a fly ball I would have had at age 14. He made Mel Hall look like Paul Blair on that one. Maybe it was the wind, or the sun, or he heard footsteps, I don't know.

 

I'm not say he can't learn how to judge fly balls. Most people can, in fact. (but not Mel Hall) But if that one play was the norm, he will hurt the team out there.

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Okay, one play. But he misjudged a fly ball I would have had at age 14. He made Mel Hall look like Paul Blair on that one. Maybe it was the wind, or the sun, or he heard footsteps, I don't know.

 

I'm not say he can't learn how to judge fly balls. Most people can, in fact. (but not Mel Hall) But if that one play was the norm, he will hurt the team out there.

 

When did this play happen? I believe it would have been all over the Mets blogs if this had happened to him. Wow one error in Spring Training. He must suck.

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When did this play happen? I believe it would have been all over the Mets blogs if this had happened to him. Wow one error in Spring Training. He must suck.

About 2 televised games ago, and they rarely give errors for misjudged fly balls.

 

The announcers, Darling and Hernandez even discussed him shagging extra fly balls.

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About 2 televised games ago, and they rarely give errors for misjudged fly balls.

 

The announcers, Darling and Hernandez even discussed him shagging extra fly balls.

 

Are these facts or mere observations by Keith and Ron based on what they see? I need answers!

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They're also confident enough to slot him number 2 in the batting order.

 

Fantasy gold, baby.

well, game one of the season he produced pretty damn good. And so did Church. Besides that bases loaded fly ball Delgado had a pretty impressive game. we left over 10 guys stranded on base. We need better hitting while guys are in scoring position. D. Murphy got that win for Santana!!

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