On August 3, the Chicago Cubs called up 30-year-old utility infielder Donnie Murphy to help fill the void left by starting third baseman Luis Valbuena going down with an oblique injury. Murphy is a journeyman infielder that has previously played with the Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics and Miami Marlins. In 2012 with the Marlins, Murphy hit .216/.281/.379 in 129 at-bats and played all over the infield.
Since being called up by the Cubs, Murphy has started almost every game at third base. He has also grabbed a couple of starts at shortstop, giving Starlin Castro a day off. In 53 at-bats, Murphy is hitting .333/.396/.854 including seven home runs. Murphy has done nothing but destroy pitching since arriving in Chicago, and it has people wondering whether he could become a useful player for 2014 and beyond.
Realistically, Murphy is never going to be an every day player for a competitive team. He has constantly been bouncing back and forth from the majors and the minors for a reason. He has never been able to hit enough to become a major league regular.
That being said, Murphy is a veteran player and by all accounts a very good clubhouse guy. With the Cubs in the middle of a rebuild, the team is very young and could use a veteran presence to look up to. Murphy also plays solid defense at multiple positions.
It is very unlikely that Murphy continues to hit the way he is right now. The seven home runs that he has hit since August 3 is the most he has hit in any single major league season. Chances are his numbers are going to come back to earth for the rest of the season. That being said, there is a chance that Murphy changed his approach at the plate and this is the result.
Murphy is auditioning for a bench job with the 2014 Cubs. So far, so good. Hopefully he continues to impress because with his veteran leadership and position flexibility, I think Murphy could be a useful player off the bench in 2014.