Under the assumptions 1) that Bobby Crosby is hurting the team with his bat and needs to be replaced, and 2) that there are no outstanding SS candidates in the farm system, I think it’s time to give Donnie Murphy a shot at SS.
For the moment, I'll focus on offense and make no claims about his defense, although I'll point out that he was originally drafted as a SS and played 59, 41 and 20 games at SS in 2002, 2003, and 2005 in the minors, resp., with an additional handful of games at SS in the last couple years. But first, a (brief?) retrospective on Murphy’s career, with stats from the baseball cube:
Murphy was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2002 at the age of 19, where he played 28 games with A- Spokane and hit .303/.356/.431/.787. He was promoted the same year to level A Burlington, where he underwhelmed with .225/.300/.325/.625. The following year he started in Burlington, where he hit a much better .313/.397/.425/.822. Murphy was promoted to A+ Wilmington in 2004 as a 21-year-old, and produced a line of .256/.328/.404/.732 before he was a September call-up to Kansas City straight from A+. This is similar to us calling up ... 2B Justin Sellers from Stockton, if I’ve understood the ordering of our minor league affiliates correctly. As a point of comparison, Mark Ellis hit .327/.424/.452/.876 as a 22-year-old in Spokane, in 1999, and Ellis hit .302/.404/.411/.815 as a 23-year-old in Wilmington.
Anyway, Murphy started 2005 in AA Wichita, in the Texas League, hitting a decent .313/.362/.523/.885 before an extended July call-up to Kansas City where he failed to impress in 77 AB in 32 games with a line of .156/.241/.260/.501. Low BA, draws walks, sound familiar? And 2006 he spent the entire season in Wichita, where he hit .240/.300/.437/.737. At this point, John Sickels ranks Donnie Murphy as the 19th best prospect in the Royals Organization, with worries about health and a stagnating bat. I’m not sure what the health issues are, but with respect to the stagnating bat I’d argue that his natural development was stunted for half a season to a season by his call-ups too early to KC.
This year he’s quietly put together a batting line of .327/.394/.516/.910 in 41 games and 150 AB in AAA while riding the Oakland/Sacramento yo-yo. Keep in mind he’s only 24 years old. Despite the deflation in statistics that occurs from the hitter friendly PCL to the majors, Crosby’s set a low bar that Murphy should easily surpass, and Murphy looks to improve in the future as well. So my hope is that, after Murphy comes off the BL, he'll get an extended look from Geren and Beane as the SS of the near future.