Is David Murphy’s right field job in jeopardy?
By the end of the season, right field could be the deepest position on the Indians. As spring training gets ready to begin though there are plenty of questions.
The lone absolute at the moment is that if the season started today, David Murphy would be the starter. Whether Murphy is here the entire season is a big if especially after the Indians acquired Brandon Moss during the offseason.
Moss is Murphy’s one of best friends in baseball, and they have played together at every level. Right before the Indians acquired Moss, general manager Chris Antonetti called Murphy about the move.
"I told him that I understand his job title, and he has to do the best he possibly can to make this team better," Murphy said during Tribe Fest. "I didn’t look at it as an insult or point a finger at someone and get angry. I’m a team guy and at the end of the day I want to win a championship and Chris made a move that can help us do that. I’m preparing the same way I always have and get set for spring training."
It’s not as if this is the first time Murphy has come into spring training unsure on how things would work out. As he noted, he still ended up getting around 400 at-bats.
Murphy added: "Whether it was injuries or playing well to earn more playing time things worked out. I did voice my opinion to the point where I am OK losing playing time but not to the point where I’m getting 150 at-bats. If I’m in the 300-400 range, then I’m going to be on a team with a chance to win. I’m prepared to sacrifice a little bit of playing time to be on a winning team."
Of Indians who played in 40 or more games at Progressive Field last season, Murphy had the second-best batting average (.281) and was fourth in RBI (31). After batting .220 with Texas in 2013, Murphy batted 42 points better but missed nearly a month late in the year due to an oblique strain.
Moss, who is coming back from offseason hip surgery, can play both corner outfield spots along with first and designated hitter. It is likely that he could start the year as the DH. Nick Swisher is likely to move primarily to the outfield and DH, but is coming back from offseason surgery on both knees.
Ryan Raburn is a solid utility player in the outfield but is also coming back from knee surgery. Zach Walters, Tyler Holt and James Ramsey could also factor in as backups in right but just one could make the Opening Day roster.
In his talks with Antonetti, Murphy said that trade scenarios were not brought up but noted "Everyone can logically see there’s only so many spots for so many players. If that’s the case and best-case scenario for them and me I am open to it."
2014 STARTS IN RIGHT FIELD: Murphy 109, Ryan Raburn 19, Tyler Holt 14, Chris Dickerson 8, Nick Swisher 4, Elliot Johnson 3, Mike Aviles 2, J.B. Shuck 2, Zach Walters 1.
KEY NUMBER: 15.93 — At-bats per home runs for Moss over the past three seasons, which is ninth in the majors.
RF PROSPECT TO WATCH: Bradley Zimmer — The 21st overall pick in last year’s draft batted .304 at Mahoning Valley and had two games at Lake County. He is expected to progress through the organization quickly and could begin the year in High-A Lynchburg. Zimmer played mostly center with Mahoning Valley but projects more as a right fielder, especially if he is in the same lineup as Cliff Frazier.
2014 ORGANIZATION DEPTH CHART (15 or more games in right): Columbus — Carlos Moncrief; Akron — Jordan Smith/Anthony Gallas; Carolina — Luigi Rodriguez/Gallas/Torsten Boss/Ollie Linton; Lake County — Mike Papi/Josh McAdams/Jorge Martinez/Torsten Boss/Cody Ferrell; Mahoning Valley — Greg Allen/D’vone McClure/Taylor Murphy; Arizona Rookie — Francisco Miguel; Dominican Summer League — Junior Soto/Gabriel Mejia.