|Your Newest Nationals 2nd Baseman...just, uh, just go with it...|
And yet, the one team that DID grab Murphy...I don't really think that was the greatest move for them. That may have, actually, been a step in the opposite direction.
You see, the Nationals have had this name for having a young, quick, homegrown infield, and they did a lot to make sure that all of the pieces fit. For a while it was Zimmerman-Espinoza-Desmond-Rendon in some kind of combination. Whenever one piece was injured, they would add a short term piece like Yunel Escobar or Asdrubal Cabrera, and get someone (usually Rendon or Espinoza) to float or play backups on some days.
So they made it clear that they weren't going to re-sign Yunel Escobar, so he's gone, and now they have a solid formation for a Zim-Espinoza-Dez-Rendon infield. This works because they've already been playing around each other, and now that there aren't options, it can be a very speedy, defense-driven yet still offensively-sharp infield. The only snag is that Ian Desmond is a Free Agent this season.
I really don't see why getting Daniel Murphy, for more money, was a better idea than just getting Desmond back and keeping everyone together. It's kind of baffling to me, because, yes, it allows for more flexibility, as Espinosa can play short or second, Zim can play first or third, Murphy can play 2nd or third, and Rendon can play 2nd or third...but also, it sort of ruins the dynamic that the Nats have been trying to build for the last five or so seasons. They've had the pieces in place for a truly great infield...and then they go and screw it up by getting a guy who can hit very well, but might not be able to fit into that infield. It's a Dan Uggla situation. You're fitting a guy who's not especially known for defense into a defensively-driven infield. I'm not sure if that's going to work.
A lot of people see this as an upgrade, as, yes, a bat is a bat, and Murphy could hit a ton of home runs, and possibly improve that output in the infield, but...infield bats were not really the problem. We're going into a season with only one real locked-down outfielder, Jayson Werth, a guy who's looking like he's on the decline, and your other big outfield bat, Denard Span, looks like he's heading somewhere else. You didn't need a lot of offensive help in the infield is what I'm saying.
So yes, it's great that the Nationals got Daniel Murphy. Great hitter, great 2nd-3rd baseman, gonna hit 30 homers next year. But don't be shocked if the Nationals fail to clinch yet again. I mean, I'm not denying the fact that if they do get to October, they'd get farther than they would if they DIDN'T have Murphy on the roster. I'm just saying that because they're emphasizing the wrong parts of the lineup in terms of what they need...they're not gonna do well at all. It's gonna be another year of a stacked infield and a piss-poor outfield BA-wise.
Wish I had better Christmas news, Nats fans. Who knows, there are still some FA outfielders out there. However, thanks to this Murphy deal, I'm not sure which ones you can afford...