Apr
21

Matt Murton: Depth replenisher

By

Both Ben and Mike have discussed possible replacements for the injured Xavier Nady. Now it’s my turn to chime in.

Update: Of course, no more than 20 minutes after I wrote this and set it to post, we find out that Nady will not need surgery and will return this season. I still advocate everything in this article. Murton can provide minor league depth now and possibly slide into a starting or bench role next year.

The loss of Xavier Nady highlighted the Yanks’ depth. Rather than scrambling to find a replacement they were able to install Nick Swisher as the full-time right fielder. While some take the glass half empty path and note that the Yankees cannot sustain another injury, the rest of us recognize that the injury and seamless replacement is a testament to said depth. It’s not an ideal situation; no injury is. The depth has kept the Yanks afloat for now, though they could certainly restock in the coming weeks.

Nady’s injury is felt hardest on the bench. The presence of both Nady and Swisher meant that on any given day the Yankees would have a big bat on the bench to hit for the likes of Jose Molina, Cody Ransom, and Brett Gardner. Now, not so much. When the Yanks trot out their “A” lineup, featuring Hideki Matsui at DH, the bench consists of Melky Cabrera, Jose Molina, and Ramiro Pena. Chili Davis, Cecil Fielder, and Darryl Strawberry they are not. They could add Juan Miranda, who could give them some pop, but he’s largely unproven at the MLB level.

The answer could be sitting in the Colorado Rockies’ farm system. The A’s sent Matt Murton to the Rockies in the Matt Holliday trade for Corey Wimberly, and he is now languishing at AAA. That’s a shame, because he has a strong MLB track record and is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball at AAA this year (.409/.480/.636, though in the massively hitter-friendly PCL). Murton broke out in 2006, collecting 508 plate appearances for the Cubs and posting a .297/.365/.444 line. He followed that up in 2007 with a .281/.352/.438 line, though in only 261 plate appearances. By the time 2008 rolled around he had fallen out of favor, and collected just 42 PA with the Cubs before they sent him to the A’s, where he stepped to the plate just 31 times.

Murton and Nady are surprisingly similar players. Surprising because one has been sought-after (by the Mets, then by the Pirates, and finally by the Yankees) while the other has been cast out by three teams now. In fact, through their age-25 seasons Murton was demonstrably better — Murton’s age-26 season obviously skewed because he got no playing time. He’s only 27 this year and has just over two years of service time, so he’ll be under team control for the next three years, maybe more depending on how much time he spends in the minors this year.

(On the physical attribute side, Nady is listed as 6’0, 180, which I’m pretty sure is undershooting his weight, while Murton is 6’1 215. So they’re not far off there, either.)

Dave Cameron has some thoughts on Murton, wherein he cites Matt’s .345 career wOBA, an above-average mark (though we could have inferred that from the slash stats above). His best line, though, comes towards the end: “There’s no way that there are 750 better baseball players on the planet that Murton.” Count Melky Cabrera on that list. Cameron also notes that we should “[b]et on a smart organization reaping the rewards when they bring Murton back to the majors.” Let’s hope the Yanks are that smart organization. He brings to the table what Nady did, except he’s younger and under team control for longer. If the Yanks are looking for an outfielder to replace Nady, which they very well may not be, they could do a whole ton worse than Matt Murton.

Categories : Injuries

94 Comments»

  1. jsbrendog says:

    good news on nady. but again, the question for the ages:

    what does it take to get murton to make him the 4th of instead of melky/gardner and nady’s replacement til he returns/next yr??

    • Kennedy.

      (I’d do it, too. Murton mashes lefties and plays a decent OF. Turn a strength into a weakness.)

      • jsbrendog says:

        eeeeeehhh…i mean, im not too high on kennedy but doesnt that seme like a lot? i mean yeah i guess….

        • Mike Pop says:

          For IPK, I think I want Murton plus something else.

          • jsbrendog says:

            thats kinda what iom saying

          • A.D. says:

            Street to pitch teh 7th!!!!!!!!!!!11111!!!!

          • For IPK, I think I want Murton plus something else.

            I think we’re probably either overvaluing Kennedy or undervaluing Murton. They’re actually damn similar, if you ask me.

            Murton is a decent but not stud OF prospect, probably good as a bottom of the batting order hitter who can hold his own but that you’d rather have as a 4th OF. Kennedy is a decent but not stud SP prospect, probably okay as a back of the rotation innings eater but someone you’d rather have as your 6th starter.

            I’d probably say all things being equal, I’d rather have Kennedy since he’s younger, but the fact that we have a surplus of pitchers and a dearth of outfielders swings the equation back to Murton.

            IPK may be better, but Murton helps our team more. So, if they refuse to add in another prospect and demand IPK for Murton straight up, I’d still do it.

            • A.D. says:

              Well the one thing I see is that Murton is 27, already been demoted from the majors, running out of options, and the #3 backup outfielder.

              Meanwhile IPK is 24, we can keep in the minors for awhile longer, and is a back of the rotation starter that is ML ready (ML ready in the sense he has definitely proven he can succeed at AAA) that will be the #1 backup starter next year.

              • Tampa Yankee says:

                Who knows, maybe Andy pitched well and wants to come back on another 1 yr deal. I don’t remember hearing him say that this is his last year, am I wrong? If this happens then IPK is #7. I am not for holding onto a #7 at best #6 SP when our OF is already hurting and next year when our only returning OF are Garnder, Melky and Swish (you can throw in Jackson if you want but that’s assuming he’s ready). I think Murton for IPK would benefit us this year and next.

                • A.D. says:

                  The issue isn’t that Murton might be more useful to the 25 man roster than IPK, its that IPK is more valuable as a baseball player than Murton, and therefore shouldn’t be traded for him straight up.

                • Mike Pop says:

                  Exactly, everyone here says the Yankees should draft the best talent available and then trade it for a need later, which I agree with. But not in this sense, if we are going to trade more valuable commodities for guys like Murton (who I think is good but not enough for IPK), I think that hurts the whole purpose of drafting what they think is the best talent available. I just wouldn’t like that move at all, I know it was many moons ago but IPK was talked about for Johan and in my opinion he hasn’t changed much since then. Still the same pitcher and has just struggled. If they did it, would I lose sleep? No, but I would have not been a happy camper.

              • Mike Pop says:

                Ya and a guy who could be a 4/5 starter is more valuable than a guy who is going to be our 4th outfielder, potentially could be an everyday but we don’t know that. IPK would probably be one of the better pitchers in Colorado, I think they would jump so fast on that if Cash offered. A guy they don’t need pretty much at all for a guy who could be in their rotation for the next 6 years or so. Just seems like the Yankees would be overpaying to me.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          I think Kennedy is too much. The A’s traded Murton to the Rox for Corey frickin’ Wimberly (Joe’s wrong in the post about Holliday), that’s like trading him for Kevin Russo.

      • Leokitty says:

        I don’t think it would take IPK to get Murton. Sure the Rockies can hold onto him but he’ll never crack their roster even if Gonzalez can’t get his bat together for real, and he’s not attractive enough to overpay for.

      • skipspence says:

        cashman trade kennedy for murton !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!talk about a chicken sht move man write this down.Cred lost. you wanna trade a young cost controlled starter who has dominated the minors for a 27 year old outfeilder who ”mashes” lefties in the pcl, like shelly duncan wouldnt do the same thing.pull your pants up panic move.

    • A.D. says:

      Kontos.

      • whozat says:

        Eh.

        I think if Aceves was doing well, they could maybe trick the Rockies into taking him and Kontos in lieu of Kennedy, but he’s not.

        The only thing that makes me leery of doing Kennedy for Murton + some reliever not on the 40-man is Wang. If he can’t get his head on straight, Hughes steps into his slot and Kennedy becomes our #1 insurance policy. And we need that, what with Joba’s innings limit, and the injury history of AJ and Hughes.

        If Wang figures himself out in the next few weeks, then I’d be more comfortable with making this move. Though I’d probably still go for Cameron anyway. Take on the money, give them some AAA pitching depth, and call it a solution.

        • Though I’d probably still go for Cameron anyway. Take on the money, give them some AAA pitching depth, and call it a solution.

          Yup. Cameron’s still the best solution, because he probably costs less in prospects than Murton (who they don’t really need/want to move) and acquiring him for Melky or some combination of lower level pitchers on our 40-man helps with our roster flexibility.

        • A.D. says:

          Just Kontos straight up, I don’t think they’d need more than that. If Aceves was pitching real well in AAA they might be able to spin him for Murton, but he’s not.

  2. Jake H says:

    It is good news. I wonder how long he is going to be out. Hopefully they will let us know a time table during the game tonight.

  3. Steve B-BALL says:

    I read up to a month

  4. steve (different one) says:

    His best line, though, comes towards the end: “There’s no way that there are 750 better baseball players on the planet that Murton.”

    Murton can pitch, catch, play SS, 3B, 2B, etc. now?

    catchy line, but altogether meaningless.

    all there needs to be are FOUR players, the Rockies’ major league OFers, who are better than Murton to justify his presence in AAA.

  5. A.D. says:

    Murton would also provide a possibility for LF next year, giving the Yankees some bargaining power.

  6. Bo says:

    Murton? Way to think big!

    I guess there aren’t worse 5th OF’s playing.

    If they make a move they should target legit bats instead of adding to mediocrity.

    • jsbrendog says:

      yes, as usual, your calm and well thought out points of who we should get instead and what it would take to get them are duly noted. I am sorry we ever doubted you. you are always right there.

      there is no reason to trade someone useful to you to get a “superstar” when all you need is depth and can give up something the rockies need (dont they need somepitching?) to strengthen something. this whole allstars thing is stupid.

      plus, do you like nady? if you do and you actually read the post above then you owuld see murton is nady if not slightly >>

    • steve (different one) says:

      how about suggesting some actual names instead of just mocking the idea?

      who are these “legit” bats that are available on April 21st?

    • Urge to kill… rising…

      If they make a move they should target legit bats instead of adding to mediocrity.

      No, Grantbo, wrong as usual. Since we DON’T NEED A STARTER but merely depth and a marginal upgrade over the more inferior 4th OF between Melky or Brett, we shouldn’t be targeting “legit bats”, because legit bats would require legit prospects in plural, and that would be overkill. We don’t need to be trading for star, surefire starters here, just decent players who have some pop but are forced out by surpluses on their teams.

      Like Murton. Who, btw, is a “legit bat”, just not as good of an overall player as the other options the Rockies have, thus making him more expendable and more desirable to us.

      Good Mo, why must you always be so wrong so thoroughly?

      • jsbrendog says:

        this is building a TEAM not forcing the AI to trade you pujols, lincecum, santana, and wright and only trading ransom, hacker, kennedy, and melky.

      • A.D. says:

        Its the same people that rip on moves that aren’t blockbuster that then complain we don’t have all-stars coming off the bench when someone gets banged up.

  7. MattG says:

    I’ve always wanted the Yankees to go get Murton, but being that they could have Catalanotto without giving up anything, and being that Catalanotto can play infield, I want Frank.

    This must’ve been Murton’s last option, so there will be better opportunity to pick him up next spring.

    • jsbrendog says:

      yeah why has it been so quit on the catalanotto front? has he fallen off that bad? for 400,000? come on.

      • jsbrendog says:

        and franky ops+ 11 mroe than cano last yr in 88 games…and like 30 more than melky…for $400,000?

      • Catalanotto is a lefty.

        We need righties, we already have way too many lefties who can’t hit lefty pitching.

        Catalanotto only had 15 plate appearances against LHP last year. Put up a .167/.286/.250/.536. He has such a horrid platoon split his managers have entirely given up on him facing a lefty ever.

        I’m certain the reason we haven’t made any efforts to move on Catalanotto, Jim Edmonds, and the numerous other free agent outfielders out there is because they’re lefties who struggle against lefty pitching, and that is the exact opposite of what we need.

        My list is still:
        1. Trading for Mike Cameron
        2. Trading for Matt Murton
        3. trading for Marlon Byrd
        (little gap)
        4. trading for Lastings Milledge (yeah, I know, probably dumb… I like him, though)
        (big gap)
        5. trading for Brian Giles
        6. signing Edmonds/Catalanotto/Geoff Jenkins/Dave Roberts/etc.

        • MattG says:

          I think 1-5 on your list is useless unless you say who you will be willing to trade.

          And unless you would be planning to platoon Cameron/Murton/Byrd with Matsui, I don’t think the handedness of the batter much matters.

          And, most important, only one name on that list can even fake infield. At what point in this season are we going to stop pretending the Yankees have enough infield depth?

          • steve (different one) says:

            And unless you would be planning to platoon Cameron/Murton/Byrd with Matsui, I don’t think the handedness of the batter much matters.

            Cameron and Byrd would be the starting CFer. that’s why they are on the list.

            Murton would take ABs from both Damon and Matsui. that’s why he is on the list.

            but you are 100% correct, we do need to know what is being sent the other way in any trades.

            • MattG says:

              Yeah, I just meant to say that if the player acquired would sit on the bench, I do not think the side he swings from is of great importance. The ability to fake multiple positions, and hit some, would be.

          • I think 1-5 on your list is useless unless you say who you will be willing to trade.

            I’ve thrown out several names of players I would and wouldn’t be willing to trade on numerous occasions. All those players from 1-5 shouldn’t require anyone better than the IPK/Melky/Aceves stratosphere, since they’d likely be salary dumps (or, in the case of Milledge, are tarnished prospects whose star has dimmed).

            And unless you would be planning to platoon Cameron/Murton/Byrd with Matsui, I don’t think the handedness of the batter much matters.

            No, that’s wrong. Because we’re talking about doing two things: 1) finding a replacement for Nady’s ability to play the corners and hit in relief of Damon and Matsui, two aging hitters who we aggressively rest against LEFTIES, and 2) finding an upgrade for Melky and Gardner. In terms of any of those players replacing Melky or Gardner in CF, no the handedness doesn’t matter. But, assuming that we do in fact, bench Melky or Gardner in CF for whomever we bring in, like Catalanotto or Edmonds, we would now have three positions in the lineup manned on a full-time basis by lefty batters who cant hit lefties well, and no bats on the bench who hit lefties well who can pinch hit for them.

            That’s a concern. Nady’s ability to hit lefties is the most significant thing lost by his absence. It makes it harder for Girardi to platoon Damon or Matsui like they probably should be platooned. We’re lefty heavy as it is, adding another lefty bat doesn’t help very much, IMO.

            And, most important, only one name on that list can even fake infield. At what point in this season are we going to stop pretending the Yankees have enough infield depth?

            We already have an infield contingency plan. It’s called ARod getting healthy. Sucks, but it is what it is.

            • jsbrendog says:

              We’re lefty heavy as it is, adding another lefty bat doesn’t help very much, IMO.

              sorry mid-late 90s flashbacks…i didnt want to come back….

            • MattG says:

              For me, IPK is a non-starter for any of those players. Murton is the only one that wouldn’t make me hang up the phone, but I would not do that even up.

              Murton has already failed in three organizations, and is 27. That breaks the tie you spoke about towards the top of the thread.

        • jsbrendog says:

          Catalanotto only had 15 plate appearances against LHP last year. Put up a .167/.286/.250/.536. He has such a horrid platoon split his managers have entirely given up on him facing a lefty ever.

          fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. but if nothing else shakes out he is better than nothing because he can play OF against righties and those are the majority of pitchers you face and if a LOOGY gets brought in to face him you send up the OF who wasnt playing or whatever.

          • steve (different one) says:

            but if nothing else shakes out he is better than nothing because he can play OF against righties

            but he is inferior to both Damon and Swisher.

            so why would he play against righties?

            i like F-Cat, but TSJC is right, the first option should be to pick up a RH bat.

            • Again, people, I’m not saying we shouldn’t pursue Catalanotto, we should, he’s a marginal upgrade.

              I’m just saying pursuing Cameron, Byrd, or Murton more aggressively makes way more sense, because those three players fit our larger, overall needs way better.

              They are younger, better defenders and don’t have dramatically bad platoon splits.

              • MattG says:

                I just think it is odd that there is an uproar for OF depth, when Melky is already a better player than both Ransom and Pena.

                The answer might be Michael Cuddyer. RH bat that can play outfield and 3B. If you’re going to give up IPK, you might want to talk to the Twins.

    • gxpanos says:

      Plus, Suzyn Waldman already calls him “Frankie” Catalanotto. So he must be a REALLY nice guy, because Suzyn never gets attached to players or managers like that!

      Another interesting fact about Big Cat: it’s doubtful whether or not he blinks.

      Seriously though, I like standing pat, especially if it’s going to take IPK to get Murton. If Nady’s only gone a month, the Yanks can handle it with Melky (assuming Matsui can still DH).

  8. Great news on Nady obviously.

    I’ve had a slight Matt Murton crush for a while now. I think he’d make a great 4th outfielder, I’m really surprised he’s stuck in AAA. The guy has hit everywhere he’s played. I’d be ecstatic if the Yankees were able to acquire him (assuming, of course, the Yankees wouldn’t have to give up anything painful).

  9. David says:

    Why not grab one of the bats out there currently unsigned? They could get Edmonds, Luis Gonzalez or Jay Payton for next to nothing. Any of them could be as good as Murton off the bench

  10. Axl says:

    Nothing like having a team full of guys who were (are) on the brink of season ending surgeries…Arod, Wang, Matsui, throw Nady in their now. No reason to risk Nady throwing balls into the infield anymore this year…Matsui better get used to picking up Benihana’s for everybody…

    P.S. I understand the how to start the strike through…just couldn’t figure out how to end it for just one word…the preview had it going on forever.

  11. LC says:

    Via Pete Abe: Nady thinks he’ll be out 4-6 weeks.

    If this is the case, then I don’t really see the point of making a big trade. I do think that Murton or a guy like Justin Maxwell could be interesting OFs to consider though, but only if the Yanks didn’t have to give up much.

  12. Expired Milk says:

    Yankee player + Major injury+ Rehab =fail

  13. Tom Zig says:

    So if we land Cameron and then Nady comes back…does that give us “ridiculous” depth?

    • jsbrendog says:

      no because we are the yankees it would be an irreconcilable logjam. boston has “ridiculous” depth since they have the illustrious nick green playig short.

    • Gives us ridiculous upside.

      Seriously, though, this is a pretty nice playoff roster:

      1-SS Jeter (R)
      2-LF Damon (L)
      3-1B Teixeira (S)
      4-3B Nails Krzyzewski (R)
      5-C Posada (S)
      6-RF Swisher (S)
      7-2B Cano (L)
      8-DH Nady/Matsui (platoon)
      9-CF Cameron (R)

      Bench: pinch hitter Matsui/Nady, pinch runner Gardner, catcher Molina, UTI/DR Pena

  14. thebusiness says:

    Nelson Cruz is the one. A year older than Murton but plays good defense, has a cannon arm, and can steal a base too. Still under team control for 3+ years.

    Perfect 4th OF and possible RF in 2010

    Texas needs pitching and has way too many outfielders that can hit.

    • whozat says:

      Except that Texas wants him in their starting OF. The Rockies have (perhaps foolishly, but maybe the guys they’re using are all really better) decided that they don’t want Murton in their starting OF. It’s a cost-benefit analysis…Murton should come way cheaper (in terms of talent) and be almost as good.

  15. Lanny says:

    You can probably get Murton for a scrub if they really wanted to go in this direction.

    I have to think there are much better options out there. Cruz in Texas for one as many here have already said.

  16. Eric S says:

    I don’t usually comment here, but just wanted to say that this is a great piece with nice analysis and something the MSM simply doesn’t provide. Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.