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A Few Thoughts On The Daniel Murphy Injury

Daniel Murphy is *not* doing knuckle push-ups.
Daniel Murphy is *not* doing knuckle push-ups.

Worse than the loss of a game to the Braves yesterday afternoon was the news that Jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none Daniel Murphy was lost for the season to a left MCL tear, suffered when he was spiked on a morally ambiguous slide by Jose Constanza. Just last year, Murphy missed the first two months of the season with a right MCL sprain, and then tore that same MCL in June on a similar takeout slide while playing second base for Triple-A Buffalo. As with the latest incident, the injury did not require surgery but nevertheless wiped out the remainder of Murphy's season.

Let's not allow this unfortunate happenstance lead us to proclamations that Murphy's lack of defensive grace so obviously endangers him when he's clumsily patrolling any of his myriad defensive locales. The truth is that while Murphy is hardly balletic in the field, range-based defensive metrics find him mildly palatable: UZR doesn't care much for him but Total Zone and +/- fall very much on the side of #28.

The injury no doubt hurts the Mets' already vanishingly small playoff hopes. With Sunday's loss, the Mets are nine games back of the Wild-Card-leading Braves with 49 games remaining and the Cardinals and Diamondbacks in between. If the Braves manage just .500 ball the rest of the way, the Mets would have to win two-thirds of their contests from here on out in order to make things interesting. In other words, if you hadn't already mentally turned the calendar to 2012, it must be getting harder and harder to imagine meaningful games for the Mets this September.

But there are still games to play, and presumably Justin Turner will continue to get the bulk of the playing time at second. It's a shame, too, because Murphy has a much better chance of figuring into the Mets' long-term plans than does Turner, which latter is basically Wally Backman without the plate discipline, the switch hitting, or the mustache.