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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cubs Preview #2- 3/17/08

Roster Spot 15- OF- Matt Murton #19
Ht: 6'1'' Wt: 220 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Murton ready to unleash the power of his massive thighs.

You know, it really has to suck to be Matt Murton. In 2003 Matt is selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 1st round of the MLB Draft. As a first rounder Murton obviously has a bright future in an organization about to win its first world series in 86 years. In his rookie year in low A ball, Matt hits a respectable .286 with a very respectable .375 OBP in 53 games, getting his professional career off to a great start. In 2004 Matt moves to high A ball and hits .301 with 11 hrs, 55 rbis, and an impressive .371 OBP in 102 games to start the season. Surely he's got to be one of the bright spots of the Boston farm system? Nay. The Red Sox flip him to the Cubs as an afterthought to the Nomar Garciaparra trade. Bummer #1 for Matt.

But you know what, new organization, new chance, perhaps Matt wouldn't have had a chance to make his ML debut in 2005 with the defending World Champions. So he bides his time with the Cubs AA West Tennessee Diamon Jaxx for 78 games, hitting a robust .342 with a .403 OBP, 8 hrs, 46 rbis, and 18 stolen bases. And then it happens: the Cubs send struggling center fielder Corey Patterson down and call up Matt Murton and his best friend from West Tennessee, Adam Greenberg. Matt makes his major league debut July 8, 2005 against the Florida Marlins and goes 2-2 with a double, a walk, and a sacrifice fly in a 9-6 Cubs win. Matt's friend Adam makes his debut the next day and gets hit with a fastball in the head, is concussed, later suffers from post-concussion syndrome, and is forced to retire from baseball two years later. Matt may envy him. Matt follows up his debut by playing in 25 games between July 8 and August 16 and hitting .339 with a .415 OBP, 1 hr and 4 rbis. So now young Matt has found his way to rookie stardom with the Cubs, right?

Wrong. In August the Cubs interim center fielder Jerry Hairston, Jr. is hurt and the Cubs decide to call Corey Patterson back to the minors, and, in a move that will never make sense to anyone other than Dusty f*&king Baker, send Murton down to AAA Iowa, where Matt hit .353 with a .421 OBP in 9 games before Baker's stupidity is overruled and Matt is called back up to the Cubs and finishes the season with a final stat line of:

51 games, 140 at-bats, .321 avg., 7 hrs, 14 rbis, .386 OBP, .521 slugging, 2 stolen bases.

So Cubs fans cry foul at Dusty's refusal to give Matt a signficant role in 2005 and Dusty makes Matt the starting left fielder for the Cubs in 2006. Matt responds with the following line:

144 games, 140 ABs, .297 avg., 13 hrs, 62 rbis, .365 OBP, .444 slugging, 5 stolen bases.

His batting avg. was the highest (qualified) on the team, while his OBP was 2nd. Pretty good first full season, eh? Surely Matt has secured his place in the lineup?

Nay. Before the 2007, while swearing that Matt shall remain the starting left fielder, the Cubs sign Alfonso Soriano (ostensibly to play center field) and Cliff Floyd to "back up" Matt. As it happens Matt bats only .252 with 1 hr in the first half, is moved first from left field to right field as Soriano shifted from center to left and Jacque Jones shifted from right to center, then is benched in favor of Cliff Floyd. On June 13, after nearly 2 years in the Majors, Matt is sent down to AAA Iowa for over a month before returning to the Cubs on July 27. Matt played better in a back-up role after his return, batting .310 with 7 hrs and 14 rbis. in the second half. Matt's 2007 numbers:

94 games, 235 ABs, .281 avg., 8 hrs, 22 rbis, .352 OBP, .438. slugging, 1 stolen base.

After the season the Cubs let Cliff Floyd leave as a free agent. Perhaps opening the door for Matt to start again in right field? Nay. On December 11, 2007 the Cubs sign Japanese right fielder Kosuke Fukudome to a $48 million, 4 year deal. Fukudome is a four time Gold Glove winner in Japan, as well as the 2006 Japanese Central League MVP and will be the Cubs every day right fielder, leaving Matt Murton once again totally screwed.

This spring Matt is hitting .359 with a .410 OBP, and has been mentioned in just about every single trade rumor involving the Cubs.

Matt Murton- The World's Unluckiest Player.

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