Since the departure of Aramis Ramirez in 2011, the Cubs have once again, (we miss you Santo) been looking for an everyday guy at third. Last season saw a solid rotation with Luis Valbuena, Cody Ransom, and Donnie Murphy. You, like myself may have said “who the heck is Donnie Murphy?”
While Murphy didn’t put up astronomical numbers, he did enough to earn himself a deal with the Cubs for the 2014 season. And while the Cubs seem to have 48 different guys ready to play third, nobody has been given the job. Murphy will get his chance this spring – as well as the others. In his 46 games last season, he hit 11 home runs and knocked in 23. Both were career-highs. While not many in number, several of his hits were clutch for a Cubs team that was looking for anything to cheer about last year. But Murphy swings and misses a lot, and plays an average third baseman, at best.
Over eight seasons and four teams, he’s never been able to latch on as regular. In 2012 with the Marlins he made the 25 man roster out of camp, but was designated for assignment to make room for Gaby Sanchez. Murphy would be recalled later that season, but never saw any regular playing time. Last season with the Cubs was the most consistent playing time he’s gotten, and responded well.
The Cubs don’t have anyone penciled in for the starting job at third, but there are several candidates. Murphy, Valbuena, as well as Mike Olt will have the chance to earn the job in camp. In eight years in the majors, Murphy has never played more than 52 games. But Murphy is a solid utility man, and there will be opportunities for him to get some at-bats. So while expectations aren’t high, if Murphy can replicate the numbers he put up in his time last year, he can be a feel good story for the Cubs. Because we may be looking for those sooner than later in 2014.