Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mets Replace Murphy With Similar Walker

Can Neil Walker replicate the legacy Daniel Murphy left behind in New York?

Neil Walker was born in Pittsburgh, and has played his entire seven year career manning second base and helping the Pirates raise the Jolly Roger.

But in 2016, he will gear up for the reigning champion New York Mets, after a December trade for left hander Jon Niese sent him packing. The trade wasn't ideal for Mets fans who had just witnessed history from then free agent Daniel Murphy, who had a legendary postseason comparable with what Reggie Jackson and David Freese have done before. Murphy batted .421 and hit seven home runs in 9 games last October. Some may say if it weren't for his bat, the Mets wouldn't have advanced as far as they did.

The Nationals gave Murphy a three year, $37 million dollar deal in January to use him as their starting second baseman and as a versatile infield depth piece. Walker, however, will make $10,500,000 in 2016 with the Mets and will likely depart for free agency shortly thereafter.

The move was made to provide a stopgap for young prospect Dilson Herrera, who needs more minor league experience before being ready to take the role. General Manager Sandy Alderson made the gut decision to let go of Murphy in favor of a cheaper, shorter term option in Walker. “The biggest thing that Sandy was looking for, they really liked Dilson, and they should because he’s a good player. I think they wanted some flexibility, and Neil Walker provided that," said Murphy of the situation.

However, the comparison between Murphy and Walker isn't as staggering as their contracts may indicate. Both players are considered below average defenders but have produced above average offensive statistics for their respective teams over their seven year careers. Murphy owns a higher career batting average (.288 to .272), while Walker's OPS of .769 out-slugs Murphy's .755. When all is said and done, they are very similar players; even wearing the same uniform number!

The Mets may have grown a particular fondness for the homegrown Murphy, but Walker's ability to switch hit relatively successfully should give them some extra lineup flexibility they didn't have with the left handed Murphy. “The types of things he brings, kind of an offensive mind-set to second base and a grinder mentality from a defensive standpoint — and an offensive standpoint, for that matter — is what I try to do as well,” Walker said of Murphy. “There’s no flash to my game. There’s nothing special that I do. I just try to do things the right way.”

“When the dust settled, I couldn’t have been happier with where I landed,” Walker said. “I thought this was a very good fit for me, a very good clubhouse, and I thought I could provide value to this team.” As long as Walker can help guide New York back into the pennant race in 2016, fans should warm up to the new #20 in the clubhouse.

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