The Rockies biggest offseason acquisition was no doubt Daniel Murphy. It was also one of the only major moves the team made.
As a result, there was a lot riding on Murphy heading into the season for the Rockies, given his pedigree and accomplishments in the majors. Up to this point of the season, however, the opposite can be said of Murphy; most would agree that he’s has been the biggest disappointment on the club.
After Wednesday night, Murphy has a .190 average, with three home runs and 17 runs batted in. That’s even after going 2-for-5, with one home run against the Pirates.
A lot of his struggles can be blamed on his health after an injured list stint earlier this season with a fractured finger. Some are questioning whether it’s about getting his timing back after missing a significant amount of time, or if he’s still not 100% healthy. Whatever the reason is for Murphy’s struggles, the Rockies need to find a way to get more production at first base, even if that means putting Murphy on the bench.
Colorado absolutely needs Murphy to start hitting and start hitting soon. He did show some signs of life in Pittsburgh with a homer, a single and a fly-ball out that nearly left the yard. But he consistently needs more games like this going forward or the Rockies should start to explore other options at first base.
The best-case scenario moving forward would be that Murphy figures things out, starts putting great at-bats together, compiles some stats, and in a month or two, we totally forget about his early-season struggles. After all, you don’t want your best offseason move to be a dud. Murphy should have plenty of time, if healthy enough, and plenty of talent left in the career tank to put things together to still have a solid year for the Rockies.
If he can’t do that, and he doesn’t start to improve his play, the Rockies shouldn’t hesitate to look elsewhere and take at-bats away from Murphy. The team might even be able to get away with giving the 34-year-old first baseman some time on the IL once again to heal his finger further.
With Ryan McMahon heating up a bit lately, he could be an option for the Rockies in place of Murphy. He would be my No. 1 choice for the team if Murphy can’t get things together over the next few weeks.
It might not even be a bad idea for manager Bud Black to give Murphy a few days off over the next week to get McMahon some more at-bats. McMahon doesn’t have an everyday place to play right now, since the team called up top prospect Brendan Rodgers to play second base.
Another option would be to go back to playing Ian Desmond more at first base. Desmond hasn’t lit the world on fire, but he has at least hit slightly better than Murphy so far this year.
Having Desmond at first would also pose as a way to get Raimel Tapia’s bat in the lineup more every day without having to sit David Dahl or Charlie Blackmon. What you don’t want to see is what Black did earlier this week, which is give Rodgers two days off in row. The rookie should play every day and be the team’s second baseman the rest of the season.
The bottom line is simple: the Rockies need more production out of their first baseman position, whether that’s Murphy or someone else if they’re going to find success into the summer and fall of 2019.
Hopefully, Murphy can figure it out, and I’m somewhat hopeful that he can. But if he doesn’t, the Rockies should have options ready to improve their corner infield spot by early-to-mid-June.
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