Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Unwilling and Uncreative
2008-03-27 14:00
by Phil Bencomo

David Pinto, echoing a widespread sentiment, says, "It's absolutely amazing to me that the Cubs can't find a place for [Matt Murton]."

There is no question that Murton hits lefties better than the newly acquired Reed Johnson does. (.326/.399/.510 career for Murton, against .308/.371/.462 for Johnson.) With the outfield lineup against right-handers set -- Soriano, Pie and Fukudome from left to right -- hitting left-handers is the only applicable offensive skill when choosing which platoon man to keep. But there's more than offense to consider.

The Cubs need someone capable of playing center -- something Murton cannot do -- and so the Cubs snapped up Johnson. Still, Murton has been good enough against lefties that you'd like to see the Cubs be a bit more creative in such situations, moving Fukudome to center, which he can play competently, and putting Murton in right. That never seemed very realistic, though. The Cubs could have made it work, but perhaps being unwilling to jerk their new and expensive right fielder around the outfield, or fearing to put their faith in Murton, they opted not to find him a place on the roster.

I'd hate to see Murton leave, but with the Cubs' starting outfield set for the foreseeable future and the Cubs doing everything possible to prevent him from playing, Murton must be clamoring, privately at least, for a trade. And I'd be all for it -- he deserves a job in the majors somewhere -- so long as the Cubs don't give him away solely to better his personal situation.

2008-03-27 18:01:34
1.   Wrigleyviller
Agreed. He needs to be traded. As weird as it is to say, maybe the Cubs - who are competing this year - should trade a starting outfielder to another contender for nuttin' but prospects. Unless there's a shortstop out there better than the options the Cubs currently have, and there's not, this is a perfect opportunity to fill out our thinning minor league system a little.

I wish him luck, he's a favorite of mine.

2008-03-28 10:18:50
2.   dbt
Murton's tenure on this team was basically over the moment they signed Soriano. They both only play one position well.
2008-03-28 11:53:51
3.   Sandus
How is putting the left-handed Fukudome in center, thereby reducing his defensive effectiveness, and using Murton and his mediocre to suspect defense in right a preferable alternative to two guys playing their proper positions (Johnson's numbers vs. lefties being fairly similar to Murton's anyway)?

I like Matt Murton more than most, but his particular skill set no longer fits on this team. Murton is a two-hole hitter, a patient guy who makes good contact and can move a runner over. He might be useful to this team had they not spent $48 million on the same type of hitter this offseason, except one with more speed and far better defense.

That relegates him to fourth outfielder, something he can't play. Your fourth outfielder needs to be proficient at both corners and at least be serviceable in center. Murton not only isn't proficient in those positions, but he can be a liability in them. Believe it or not, the best place for him would be at second, except that he can't play that either.

So he needs to go. He does have value as a platoon player, and there are several organizations with those needs. He'll appreciate the chance to play.

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