Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It's 2016, and the Cubs just invited Matt Murton to Spring Training

I know what you're thinking. "Are you an idiot?" "Have you not gotten any sleep since Blogathon?" "Wasn't 'Crackerjack' such a great movie?"

OK, no one is thinking that last one, aside from maybe Speedgeek.

But I'm sure you're all definitely thinking, "Matt Murton? He'd be like 68 years old now! He couldn't coach these kids, let alone play with them!"

Well, you're wrong. Not only is he half that age (34), but he is indeed also going to be in Arizona with the Cubs this spring as a player. Although he likely doesn't have much of a chance to make the final major league roster, he's an interesting player to have in the organization, stashed at AAA Iowa, for example.

First of all, realize that Murton was a career .286 hitter before leaving for Japan after 2009. His numbers with the Cubs were even better: .294 average and .362 OBP through parts of four seasons. (For what it's worth, through seven seasons in Japan, those totals are .310/.354.) I'm totally on board with giving some plate appearances to anyone who can get on base in front of the team's big hitters.

But also, let's look at the current state of the Cubs outfield. If the starters are Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Jorge Soler, then only Soler bats from the right side. If Chris Coghlan is the fourth outfielder, that's another left-handed bat. So if things stay as they are currently, right-handed depth could be needed soon, even if right-handed Matt Szczur is the fifth outfielder.

(Of course, there are wildcards here. Infielders Ben Zobrist, a switch hitter, and righty Javy Baez may see time in the outfield. There's also Albert Almora, a right-hander that everyone is pulling for to be the team's next young star. And I'm still not fully convinced that the Cubs won't bring back Dexter Fowler, another switch hitter.)

Either way, even if Murton never contributes in Chicago again, it's a fun signing. It'll be great when Speedgeek and I can sit just a few feet away from him as he patrols the outfield in Nashville when the Iowa Cubs come to town to face the Sounds. Hey, maybe they can get Mark Prior on the mound too?


The Speedgeek said...

You're right. I have been doing a lot of thinking about how good "Crackerjack" was.

Seriously, though, I'm in favor of the Cubs signing a guy in his mid-'30s. Makes me feel like maybe I could dust off the ol' Ryne Sandberg glove, loosen up the arm and make a run at the roster myself...or maybe just hope to catch a foul ball when the Iowa Cubs come to town. That is a definite.

Mike said...

Yes, Matt Murton gives us all hope. You and I should use this inspiration to join a church softball league and celebrate all of our wins at the Golden Corral.