Oakland, CA

The Case For Keeping Sean Murphy in Oakland

Today, we look at how the Oakland Athletics organization is faring and ponder whether the team should retain catcher Sean Murphy.Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

By Rich Campbell

As the hapless A’s limp toward the finish line, a story generating some chatter locally (and nationally) is whether the team might part with catcher Sean Murphy in order to acquire more assets this offseason as the franchise’s rebuild moves into its second year.

The logic is that rookie catcher Shea Langeliers, who was called up on August 16, has looked the part with nine extra-base hits in 64 at-bats and arrived with a reputation as a strong defensive catcher. So why not trade Murphy?

The argument here is that great players are hard to find and Murphy is a great player. Not only does he have a Gold Glove in his trophy case, but he also leads the AL in defensive games at catcher and assists this year. In addition, he has been the team’s best hitter this year with a RC+ of 126 (the league average is 100). And Murphy is only 27 and not eligible for free agency until 2026. 

As more evidence of just how good Murphy is, his 4.2 WAR/162 ranks 33rd all-time amongst catchers. Granted he is early in his career and that number tends to drop as catchers age, but it is still an impressive stat. Among active backstops his WAR/162 trails only Orioles’ rookie phenom Adley Rutschman (7.3), the Dodger’s Will Smith (4.8), three-time All-Stars J.T. Realmuto and Wilson Contreras (4.6), and the Blue Jays All-Star 23-year-old Alejandro Kirk (4.3).

Murphy is the kind of young, proven, low-cost veteran rebuilding teams should be acquiring, not dealing. Here’s hoping the 2023 A’s split the catching and DH roles between Murphy and Langeliers and address their roster reconstruction without losing Sean Murphy.

Record Recap: The A’s had a record of 41-74 when we last checked in and have gone 9-11 since then to fall to 50-85. With 27 games to play, the team seems unlikely to match the Oakland record for losses, which was set by the 1979 squad with a record of 54-108. Did you know that was the A’s only 100-loss season since moving to Oakland in 1968? So, the goal for this year is to NOT lose 100. A record of 13-14 down the stretch will result in avoiding the ignominy of a second 100-loss season.

How rare are 100-loss seasons? In the AL West, the Mariners have suffered through five 100-loss years (last in 2010), the Rangers have had three such seasons (last in 2021), the Astros pulled that trick off in three consecutive seasons (2011-13), while the Angels have never lost 100.

Who Is the New Guy? With such a young team this year, this space will focus on a new player each month. Making his MLB debut on July 12 was first baseman Dermis Garcia. He was acquired in March as a minor league free agent, after spending seven years in the Yankee organization where he slashed .232/.321/.472. Since arriving in Oakland, Garcia has slashed .308/.400/.539, which is likely small sample size magic. Still only 24, Garcia is exactly the kind of player the A’s should be auditioning in this rebuilding campaign.

Old Guys Report:  There are fewer old guys to report on after the releases of Jed Lowrie, Elvis Andrus, and Stephen Piscotty. In fact, the only remaining older position player is Stephen Vogt. As noted in this space last month, veteran leadership can only carry a player for so long. It was a highlight of the 2022 season when Vogt hit a game-tying extra-inning homer at the August 27 game against the Yankees and the post-game interview was a touching moment for the two-time All-Star as his on-the-field career is just about over.

Coming Up:  The next homestand is highlighted by the return of Matt Olson with the Atlanta Braves, followed by a visit from the White Sox. On Sunday, September 11, the A’s will formally retire Oakland native Dave Stewart’s number 34. For younger readers, Stewart won 20 games four seasons in a row from 1987-1990. Based on the way pitchers are used today, Stew may be the last man in MLB history to ever pull off that feat. It should be a great day at the Coliseum.

The rest of the schedule unfolds with series at the Rangers and Astros, a homestand versus the Mariners and Mets, followed by visits to the Angels and Mariners before the season concludes with a three-game set in Oakland against the Angels. 

Rich Campbell is a Marketing Professor at Sonoma State University by day and A’s fan by night. He has previously been a sports business contributor at Forbes.com and his academic writing has appeared in Sport Marketing Quarterly.  You can find him on Twitter @RichCampbellPhD.

This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.

Comments / 0

Published by

The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America represents hundreds of writers and content creators wherever baseball is played all over the world, ranging from hobbyists to professionals and everywhere in between. Learn more at ibwaa.com or follow @ibwaa on Twitter.

New York, NY

More from IBWAA

Detroit, MI

Detroit Tigers: Evaluating the System for Seasons Ahead

By Joe Underhill Another September and another losing season is coming to a close for the Detroit Tigers. The focus for Tigers fans now shifts to saying farewell to a future Hall of Famer in Miguel Cabrera, who has a legitimate chance to climb a few more spots on the all-time lists before his season ends. The focus for fans should be the auditions taking place in Detroit and on the farm for roles next year. The focus here will be on the Tigers currently under contract for next year and who fans should be keeping tabs on as AJ Hinch and Scott Harris work to put a playoff-caliber team on the field in Detroit for the first time in almost a decade. Outfield: Currently on the 40-man: Akil Baddoo, Kerry Carpenter, Riley Greene, Austin Meadows, and Parker Meadows. In the minors: Justyn-Henry Malloy (AAA), Wenceel Perez (AAA), Justice Bigbie (AA), Max Clark (low A). What do all of the full-time outfielders on the 40-man have in common? They are all left-handed hitters. Of this group, Austin Meadows has missed the majority of the past two seasons dealing with an injury and an anxiety disorder and is at the greatest risk of being non-tendered. Parker Meadows, Riley Greene, and Kerry Carpenter have solidified their roles. Akil Baddoo has the most to prove offensively, but his defense has been above average. Carpenter, OPS+ 136 and Greene OPS+ 116, have been the Tigers’ best hitters. Matt Vierling has played the majority of his games in the outfield but is being transitioned into more of a utility role by playing third base. Vierling plays strong outfield defense in the corners and can cover center in a pinch. Justyn-Henry Malloy and Wenceel Perez will come to spring training looking to compete for place on the roster. Malloy has a strong right-handed bat, slashing .292/.432/.509 including 23 home runs and over 100 walks. At AA, Justice Bigbie has been the story of the Tigers’ minor leagues. He has hit over .350 across high A and AA. Bigbie and Malloy share a challenge, though: defense. Both Malloy and Bigbie will figure into Detroit’s plans sooner rather than later due to their bats, but defense will determine how much playing time they’ll get. In the low minors, the most exciting prospect is Max Clark, who is already flashing the potential five-tool package that enticed the Tigers to select him third overall. Utility: Currently on the 40-man: Nick Maton, Zach McKinstry, Tyler Nevin, Wenceel Perez, Matt Vierling. Of this group, McKinstry and Vierling have pretty strong grips on utility roles, with Vierling being the only right-handed outfielder currently on the roster. McKinstry has been a very productive player, even though is OPS+ is only 80. With Parker Meadows moving Greene to a corner, Verling has begun to see more time at third base. Nevin can play all four corners but is more of an infielder. He has raked at AAA, slashing .326/.400/.543 for an OPS of .943. The only problem is he has not been able to translate that success at the major-league level, slashing only .132/.242/.189. Perez has made the shift from the dirt to the outfield this season and has taken to the outfield quite well. He is a switch-hitter who brings speed (25 steals) and an OPS of .802 across three levels in the minors in 2023. The challenge for Perez will be overcoming the “yips” that showed up on his throws from second base. His path to playing time will be tied to his ability to play the utility role. Infield: Currently on the 40-man: Javier Baez, Andy Ibanez, Ryan Kreidler, Eddys Leonard, Andre Lipcius, Nick Maton, Wenceel Perez, Zack Short, and Spencer Torkelson. In the minors: Colt Keith (AAA), Jace Jung (AA), Kevin McGonigle (low A). Javy Baez probably won’t exercise his buy-out after a bad year in Detroit. Baez has an opt-out, but based on how poorly his offensive season has gone, he is unlikely to utilize it. Baez has continued to play solid-to-above-average defense at shortstop. Torkelson’s power has come on since June and he now leads the team with 25 home runs and has risen his OPS+ above 100. Defensively the numbers don’t like Tork’s defense, but the eye test suggests he is a solid defender at first. Second and third base are the positions where there is the most movement. McKinstry, Short, Ibanez, Vierling, and now Lipcius are all seeing time at the positions. The Tigers are hoping Keith shows enough aplomb to be able to handle the majority timeshare at third base. The biggest defensive challenge for Keith is rebuilding his throwing strength after a shoulder injury in 2022. Kreidler won a sport on the initial roster, but injury derailed his season. Kreidler and Short are natural shortstops, who both bring plus defense, but question marks with the bat. Lipcius is auditioning to play second and third next season. Maton began the year with the Tigers but struggled with the bat. He’s hit well at AAA and will come to spring training competing for a spot. If Jung continues to hit and show solid defensive acumen, he will be in the picture at second base at some point in 2024. Catcher: Currently on the 40-man: Carson Kelly, Jake Rogers, Donny Sands (AAA). In the minors: Dillon Dingler (AAA). Catching depth is a major concern for the Tigers, who cut ties with Eric Haase and added Carson Kelley in mid-season. Rogers has shown a solid ability to hit for power (16 home runs) while playing excellent defense. Sands and Dingler are time-sharing in AAA and will be joining the competition in spring training. This is an area to expect to see the Tigers looking to add to the competition in the off-season. Starting Pitching: Currently on the 40-man: Beau Brieske, Alex Faedo, Matt Manning (IL), Casey Mize (IL), Reese Olson, Eduardo Rodriguez, Tarik Skubal, Spencer Turnbull, Joey Wentz. In the minors: Sawyer Gipson-Long (AAA), Keider Montero (AAA), Jack O’Loughlin (AAA), Ty Madden (AA), Brant Hurter (AA), Wilmer Flores (AA). The expectation is Eduardo Rodriguez will opt out at the end of the year, and it will be interesting to see if Scott Harris tries to resign him. Rodriguez has been rock-solid for the Tigers and seems to have enjoyed his time in Detroit. The rest of the rotation depth has a lot of question marks regarding health. Mize is still working his way back; Manning just suffered a second foot fracture as a result of a batted ball. Turnbull is working to rediscover his command and control of his pitches and has been optioned to the minors. The Tigers have been playing with using Brieske and Faedo out of the bullpen, but they will come to spring training as part of the competition for the rotation. Right now, the rotation is going to be anchored by Skubal and Olson, with the back three spots up for grabs. Olson has had a strong rookie year and has placed himself firmly in the rotation plan moving forward. This is an area where I would expect the Tigers to go after a veteran or two (similar to last year with Matthew Boyd and Michael Lorenzen). Bullpen: Currently on the 40-man: Tyler Alexander (IL), Miguel Diaz, Mason Englert (IL), Jason Foley, Garrett Hill (minors), Tyler Holton, Alex Lange, Freddy Pacheco, Andrew Vasquez, Will Vest, Brendan White, Trey Wingenter (minors). The bullpen has been a strength for the Tigers this year. Tyler Holton has been a phenomenal this year and worked into leverage situations. The same can be said for Jason Foley, Brendan White, and Will Vest, who are all young pitchers growing into reliable arms. The Tigers have also been deploying Beau Brieske and Alex Faedo in the bullpen and both have had good success. Depending on how the competition for the rotation plays out either or both could find themselves pitching in leverage situations in the bullpen. Expect a few low-profile signings/waiver claims in the off-season to build the competition going into spring training. Joe Underhill is a high school administrator and diehard baseball fan and fan of the city of Detroit. Joe currently writes for www.tigstown.com. You can follow Joe on Twitter@TransplantedDet.

Read full story

Comments / 0