Mets manager Jerry Manuel told the media today that he likely won’t employ a straight platoon in left field this season. The bulk of the playing time will go to Daniel Murphy. Fernando Tatis will come off the bench and spell David Wright and Carlos Delgado in the infield.
I was tentatively supportive of the left field platoon idea originally. And I’ll do the same for handing the job to Daniel Murphy. I like what I’ve seen from Murphy generally. But he’s a below-average outfielder and hasn’t shown tremendous power at the plate either. He’s definitely more of a gap hitter than a power hitter. I like his attitude and the little things that he does well though. He seems to fit perfectly into Manuel’s team-first concept. I’ve told some friends this too… Murphy reminds me a little bit of Pete Rose in his approach to the game. Go 100% all of the time.
I also was cool to the idea of seeing too much of Fernando Tatis in left field. I love what he did for the Mets last season and was thrilled that they rewarded him with a good one-year contract. He deserved that after what he did last year. But some players are better seen in small doses on the field. Ramon Castro and Endy Chavez are perfect recent examples. Tatis is a guy that I’d like to see get one start per week in the field and come off the bench to do some damage. He seemed very adept last season at coming in cold and succeeding in pressure situations. That’s an unusual talent and he seems to have it.
Now that I’ve voiced my cautious support of Murphy getting the bulk of the time in left field, he should know that there will be some huge names available at the trading deadline if he doesn’t produce. My guess is that Matt Holliday and Maglio Ordonez will both become availabe via trade at some point this season. Even in a down economy, and despite the Bernie Madoff damage, the Mets will have the resources to bring one of them in to play left field for half a season. So the pressure will be on Murphy to produce.