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Why can't Matt Murton find a job?

Aug 27, 2009, 1:48 PM EDT

Yesterday the Rockies became the third team in two years to give up on outfielder Matt Murton, designating him for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for washed-up reliever Juan Rincon and his 5.45 ERA over the past three seasons.
Murton turns 28 years old in a couple months, but has gotten more than 275 plate appearances in a season exactly once, back in 2006 with the Cubs. He hit .297 with a .365 on-base percentage and .444 slugging percentage that year, yet in the three seasons since then he’s received a grand total of 383 plate appearances for three different teams.
Given all the bouncing around that he’s done recently you might assume that Murton is pretty useless, but that’s hardly the case. He’s a career .287/.353/.438 hitter in 339 games as a major leaguer, has hit .312/.388/.469 in 220 games at Triple-A, and grades out as an asset defensively in either outfield corner according to Ultimate Zone Rating.
He’s certainly never going to be a star or perhaps even a strong everyday player, but Murton is better and more useful than dozens of guys who’ve had permanent homes on MLB rosters for the past few seasons and would make an excellent platoon starter against left-handed pitching if given an extended opportunity.
Against southpaws he’s batted .306/.374/.483 in 390 plate appearances in the majors and .335/.410/.536 in 400 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, which alone makes him worthy of a roster spot. Toss in the fact that he’s still relatively young, very cheap, and available for absolutely nothing, and … well, it’ll be a shame if Murton clears waivers and heads back to Triple-A again.

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