Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell and Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

by Taryn “The Coop” Cooper

#TRAID

That’s the hashtag heard all over #MetsTwitter.  Generally used in irony, it’s usually associated with one player: David Wright.

I used to believe that Wright was the most divisive Met there was.  It’s hard to argue his usefulness and importance to the franchise, as he’ll be at the top of most of the leaderboards once his contract is up.

Yes, the #TRAID meme is ironic.  Yet, as divisive as Wright can be, the fact remains: he ain’t going anywhere.  And you’d have to be really stupid to trade him now.  (As Steve Keane likes to say, “Tom Seaver isn’t gonna be around forever.”)

I see a recurring theme with most fans I’ve interacted with, and it’s…”buy low, sell high.”  Which basically means…anyone who does well enough to cash in on immediate success.

I’ve see a recurring theme also with two players in particular…two guys who both played at Shea…two guys who have turned themselves around to be integral parts of the future.

Those two guys are Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell.

This is an exercise as to why we can’t have nice things.

Daniel MurphyDaniel Murphy, when he’s not been injured (missing all of 2010 and the tail end of 2011), has been one of the most consistent and underrated players to ever wear the blue and orange.  For years, second base was almost a punchline for those of us in Metsopotamia, Do I even need to bring up Luis Castillo, a name that still summons up more post-traumatic Mets disorder than, I don’t know, anyone in recent memory (even names like Oliver Perez or Jason Bay summon less)?  Murphy has done everything that has been asked of him, and then some.  A natural third baseman, he’s played at positions that turned out horribly, like left field, to the infield, where he’s flourished.  In fact, the Mets blogosphere almost became a prophet, by suggesting that he take some lumps at second base…as position that he’s been able to take on as his own.

So yeah, he has that Mets blue collar work ethic that we fans are attracted to.  And the boy loves to play baseball.  But what’s more is that the boy can HIT.  Most Mets historians will turn to hitters like Rusty Staub, Tommie Agee, Cleon Jones, to demonstrate what a “good hitter” should look like.  Well, did you know that Daniel Murphy has surpassed these hitters in slugging all-time.  But get this – Murphy ranks EIGHTH overall in lifetime batting average…he hardly has a small sample set, ahead of traditional Mets mashers like Staub, Agee, even players as recent as Carlos Beltran who spent seven years with the team.

Think that’s not impressive?  Chew on this: Murphy currently ranks 28th in Mets all-time hits.  I know…not entirely impressive, but he has the chance to hit #22 on the list by the end of this season, potentially surpassing John Milner, George Foster, Dave Magadan, Todd Hundley, Tommie Agee and Hubie Brooks.

Look, I’m not saying he needs to stay forever…but anything short of a Ron-Darling-and-Walt-Terrell like return would be uncivilized.  But that would hurt my prediction that it will be the year 2020, Daniel Murphy will be 35 years old and starting second baseman for the Mets…and we’ll still argue whether he’s good enough to start.

Moving right along, what one role gives us the most agita over any other? I will give you a few hints.

Francisco Rodriguez.

Armando Benitez.

John Franco.

Aaron Heilman.

Anthony Young.

What did they all have in common? They were all closers for the Mets, mostly by design, some out of necessity (like Heilman).  And with the exception of Heilman and Young, most closers were imported by the Mets.  The other item Rodriguez, Benitez and Franco had in common was their ability to give all of Metsopotamia a coronary situation every time they came into the game.

Bobby ParnellSo this leads me to Bobby Parnell, newly anointed closer for the Mets.  Some may balk at the idea of a below-.500 team having a closer.  Some even say that Parnell is expendable because Jack Leathersich is “close,” that Parnell will be surplus anyway.
You know what I say?  Be careful what you wish for.

Like “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughan once taught us, a little control can go a very long way.  Once upon a time, the Mets **SHOCK!! HORROR!!** tinkered with his development, and set Parnell back.  Yet, as we’ve been taught, 100-mph pitchers don’t come around every day.  So Parnell is a guy you hold onto.

What’s more is that he started to incorporate more off-speed and a curveball that Pedro Cerrano’s bats would run home crying to Mama Cerrano trying to avoid.

Yes, the straight ball gets hit very much…but curveballs…bats are very afraid.

Randy Myers was the last homegrown closer the Mets had, and he was traded in 1989.  Thanks to the detective work of Studious Metsimus, after Myers, the homegrown closer who has registered the most saves for the Mets is…

If you guessed Bobby Parnell, get yourself a cookie.

I think it’s sort of ingrained in the culture of Mets fans to want to “buy low, sell high” because we’ve been burned so badly before.  But simply look to a trade like John Franco for Randy Myers, and you’ll see how shortsighted the Mets could be with selling someone in his prime for someone who arguably was peaking or peaked.

Can’t we just enjoy Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell for the value they give? More importantly, the value they will bring to the table in the FUTURE?

No.  Because we do not want to have nice things.

I know it’s easy to have that post-traumatic Mets disorder kick in, when we see a pop up to second base, thinking of a combination of Murphy in left field but remembering Luis Castillo’s dropped pop up in 2009.  Perhaps we are waiting for the other shoe to drop with Parnell, that a 100-mph thrower can be just that — a THROWER, and not a real pitcher, and you know, #TRAID.

It’s easy to want to see what’s on the market, and I totally get it.  But the value in terms of dollars, what they’ve done so far and what they will do, being on the right side of 30…these are guys we want to hold onto, not let go, simply because we’re not used to having nice things.

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