After spending over seven seasons with the Mets and putting together one of the most historic runs in postseason history, Daniel Murphy was allowed to walk by Sandy Alderson and the front office during the offseason choosing instead to swap problematic lefty, Jonathon Niese to the Pirates for Neil Walker to fill the void at second base.
I was never the biggest Murphy fan, but he definitely had a solid, dedicated fanbase. I loved his intensity and that he seemingly loved being a Met, but his defensive shortcomings and mental lapses on the bases left something to be desired.
It is not my intention to slam Murphy as it wouldn’t be fair to do so to someone who literally left everything on the field night after night, but the Mets had a clear desire to upgrade the middle infield after a lack of range and defensive ability was exploited at the hands of the Royals in the World Series. Murphy signed a three-year deal with the division rival Washington Nationals for considerably cheaper than originally projected and, while it sucks to see him playing for the enemy, the Mets were able to upgrade at second base and receive a compensation pick for losing Murph.
The value of the 31st overall pick in the draft won’t be known for a few years, but to replace Murph, the Mets worked out a deal for longtime Pirates second baseman, Neil Walker. I loved this trade for two reasons: 1.) Walker is comparable if not slightly better than Murphy with the bat and a definite improvement with the glove. 2.) It finally allowed us to rid ourselves of Jon Niese who had never been able to make the move to anything above being mediocre while apparently thinking he was awesome and blaming everything on the defense.
While obviously only three games into the season, Walker has already been as advertised with five RBI thus far while showing a smoothness around the keystone that we haven’t been accustomed to seeing from our second basemen for quite some time.
He’s not a Gold Glover by any means, but he’s sure-handed and exhibits a competency while turning a double play (with SS Asdrubal Cabrera) that has been desperately needed by the team. The Mets gave away a ton of outs last year by not being able to turn routine double plays so this not only helps to keep runs off the board, but conserves precious bullets from our pitching staff who has consistently had their pitch counts grow quicker than needs be because of defensive incompetence.
Walker has never been an All-Star (whereas Murphy did once represent the Mets, but let’s be fair; it was only because every team needs to have a rep), but already shows to be providing the steadiness and consistency the Mets desired when making the switch away from the streaky Murphy.
While obvious to just about everybody that Walker is just keeping the seat warm for for Dilson Herrera to replace him next season, he does allow to Mets to double-dip, in a sense as they will be able to give the qualifying offer after the season and receive another sandwich pick in the draft if/when he signs elsewhere.
With 159 games to go, Walker at his average should play a vital role for a team looking to return to the postseason. It’s the famous “small sample size”, but the hot start has backed the Murphy diehards down and should allow him to settle in and get acclimated to his new surroundings.
No need to make any sort of prediction, but just want to see him continue to be a steady presence in the lineup and a net positive to up-the-middle defense. So far, so good.
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