Matt.  MATT!  The ball's behind you!

Don’t Worry, Matt. Iowa’s Ummm, LOVELY This Time Of Year. 21

Matt.  MATT!  The ballís behind you!

In the ongoing HJE Roundtable (aka, “our drawn out answer to HBO’s drawn-out John Adams series”), we asked our panelists about the fate of Matt Murton.

The responses were all similar in appraising Matt. Solid hitter, nice approach, and undervalued by the club. Everyone also shared the sentiment that Murton’s days as a Cubs were numbered. Most figured that Murton would either be traded, or start the season on the bench until then.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn from Paul Sullivan that Murton appears to be headed to Des Moines to start the season.

It seems strange that a player who led the Cubs in hitting (.297) and On Base Percentage (.365) as a twenty-four year old in his first full season in the big leagues in 2006 would find himself, less than two two years later, opening the season at AAA.

Sure, the Cubs are much improved over that 2006 team, and Murton’s penchant for playing the outfield like he’s tethered to the earth while running the bases with all of the instincts of a blind man in traffic subtracts a bit from his offensive contributions. Still, it seems strange that he finds himself in this position. The arrival of Alfonso Soriano last year and Kusoke Fukudome this year has rendered Murton irrelevant on this team, so the questions begs–how the hell has Jim Hendry not been able to strike a good deal for Murton by now? How is it that their only choice is to indirectly lessen Murton’s value by assigning him to the minors?

One could point to the only publicly acknowledged suitor in trade talks–the painfully deliberate Andy MacPhail–and blame Hendry for putting all his eggs in one basket. As we all know from watching MacFail’s chronic constipation when it came to making any dynamic deals in his twelve pregnant years here, the man seems to relish filibustering. Hendry, who operated underneath MacFail’s milquetoast sobriety for several years, should have known this more than anyone. So why did he insist on only trying to make a deal with this pud? Should it come as a surprise that Dandy Andy would prefer to take the path of least resistance and go with Luke Scott–who is three years older than Murton and much worse at playing baseball–in left field?

While this whole affair makes me appreciate the fact that McSweatervest is no longer cursing the Cubs to a life Ward Cleaver-like prudential management, it does frustrate me that Jim Hendry didn’t work harder to get something for Murton before having to relegate him to the minors. Forget about not getting Brian Roberts for a minute–the time to have dealt Matt Murton to anybody would have been immediately after signing Fukudome.

Shame on Jim Hendry for letting Andy MacPhail drag him into the slog of inaction. He should have known better.


    • Boy you’ve been handing out applause like crazy tonight.

      Thought you might like that, Chuck.

  • PenFoe

    To be fair, he did offer Murton for the incomparable Marlon Byrd, and get rejected.

  • I don’t understand the Matt Murton saga, it’s so unlike the Cubs normal story in so many ways, rather than being a prospect with no possible clue how to work a count or get on base who nonetheless receives 150 starts a year (I need not name names) until dealt almost reluctantly by the hands he forced, you have a young, smart, high OBP guy who the club seemed determined to prevent from starting. For Matt’s sake I hope a trade comes, and I hope its for a team that has a chance to contend this year.

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  • In a nutsack

    I hate that it’s come to this for Thunder. I really wanted him to be a solid part of this team. Alas, this is a waste of his best baseball years.

  • Apex

    Murton couldn’t catch AIDS in a Congolese whore house. His arm makes Jock Jones’ seem positively Bob Clemente-like. Like when Bob Clemente used to be alive and called Roberto.

    So who needs a right-handed pinch hitter who can’t pinch hit or field a position? Texas? Baltimore? Anyone? Bueller?

    Forget this stiff. He’s a AAAA player and he’s going back from whence he belongs.

    • Your first paragraph is accurate.

      As for your second and third, guh. Don’t let your agenda interfere with your ability to see clearly. I don’t know what Murton’s numbers are as a pinch-hitter, and I suspect you don’t either; you just threw it out there because, well hell I don’t even know. And a AAAA player’s not going to lead a major-league club in hitting and OBP at 24.

      If ignorance were snowlflakes, you’d be Antartica.

      • FWIW, Murton’s career PH line is .196/.293/.333, but only in 51 at-bats.

        But, yeah, Apex REALLY REALLY hates Murton. Personally, I think the guy will hit if he plays every day.

  • al

    Murton couldnít catch AIDS in a Congolese whore house. His arm makes Jock Jonesí seem positively Bob Clemente-like. Like when Bob Clemente used to be alive and called Roberto. Well put Apex and very funny

  • RV

    Of all the words used to describe MacPhail over the years, pud might be the most appropriate.

  • factorialite

    Who the hell is Kusoke (sic) Fukudome?

    • Thrillho

      Factorialite, meet MikeD’s fat typing fingers.

      MikeD’s fat typing fingers, meet some nitpicking spellchecker from the PSD forum.

      • Where is that typing wand?

  • I love Thunder Matt. It seems like the Cubs punish people who are actually PATIENT at the plate with high on-base percentage. Please trade him to an AL team so he doesn’t come back to haunt us.

    • StPatrick

      Those guys just clog up the bases, dude.

  • Scott

    I think we’ve missed the point here in the discussion…the fact that the team is at this point with Matt Murton is not a criticism of Murton, his offensive prowess, or his defensive liablility; it’s an indictment of Jim Hendry. I don’t know how he could have gotten to this point in the spring and have NO IDEA what to do with a proven Major League player. Mike, you’re right on: Shame on Hendry for getting in the molasses in January that is Andy McFail.

    • Thrillho

      Molasses in December, January, February and March.

      That was one hell of a four-month cock-tease.

  • Jay Mari(h)otti(e)

    I love those redheads.

  • “it does frustrate me that Jim Hendry didnít work harder to get something for Murton before having to relegate him to the minors.”

    Uhhh…Jim Hendry has been trying to trade Murton for 2 years and not a single team has been willing to meet Jim Hendry’s demands, which is apparently a player like Marlon Byrd, or put in another way, a not very good player. 2 offseasons have gone by with Hendry trying to trade him and one trade deadline has passed. Not one of 29 other teams has been willing to give up a Marlon Byrd type player to get him. Not a single one. So you can sure be frustrated at Hendry, but it’s not his problem. You could get mad at the other 29 teams and argue they should value Murton as much as you do.

    Or you could take a step back and try to figure out why 30 teams in baseball don’t value Matt Murton any more than they do someone like Marlon Byrd. One might even wonder why an organization that has won 2 World Series in the last 4 years was more than happy to send him to the Cubs as a throw-in.

    Maybe all 30 teams are wrong. I don’t know. It’s possible. But it’s asinine to sit here and blame Hendry when 30 organizations clearly do not value the man as much you do. Don’t get me wrong. Hendry’s worthless. But failing to trade Matt Murton for anything valuable isn’t one of the reasons why. If he was able to trade him for anything valuable I might have to reconsider my opinion of the man.

  • Greg Shriver

    It seems to me like the Cubs did offer Murton for Marlon Byrd, but the Rangers wanted more.