Good deal for Murphy

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / April 19, 2008

David Murphy admits he was relaxed. Too relaxed.

He was the first pick by the Epstein Administration, 17th overall in the 2003 draft, and he was coming along nicely at Triple A Pawtucket. So was his pregnant wife with their first child. He was from Houston, but his new home was Providence, and he was in a comfort zone.

Then the Red Sox traded him.

He was bundled with Kason Gabbard and minor leaguer Engel Beltre in the deal that brought Eric Gagné from Texas to Boston at the trade deadline last July 31.

The next 10 days were the craziest.

Murphy's wife gave birth to their daughter, Madison, and while the couple was trying to wrap their heads around being parents, David went from Providence to Columbus to Sacramento with the Rangers' Triple A affiliate, Oklahoma City, and eventually wound up in Texas. All in a blur.

Murphy came to Fenway Park for the first time as a visitor last night, and all the thoughts flashed through his head.

"Coming back in here brought back memories," Murphy said. "Guys like [Dustin] Pedroia and [Jon] Lester and [Jonathan] Papelbon, those are guys I played with pretty much every single year that I played minor league baseball with the Red Sox. You develop a close relationship with your teammates. That's the hardest part about severing ties with a team, but at the same time, you have to look out for your best interests every once in a while, and that involves what's best for you and what's best for your family and that sort of thing."

According to Red Sox manager Terry Francona, there's always a connection with your first team.

"Your first organization is a little bit like family," Francona said. "It's hard to understand. Even when you get traded, some players think, 'Well, what did I do wrong?' That's not the way it is."

Of course, it was more about what Murphy was doing right. The Sox wanted Gagné, and the young outfielder was the bait.

"You can't have everything," Francona said. "You know you've got to give up good players when you think you're getting a good player."

But you can't tell who's good until after the swap.

Gagné still has bruises from his stint with the Sox, during which he posted a 6.25 ERA in 20 appearances - then signed a one-year, $10 million contract to become the Brewers' closer.

Murphy, on the other hand, came into Fenway as a .305 hitter and Gabbard had the second-lowest ERA on the Rangers (2.41).

Francona chalked it up to trying to win, which is why Murphy shrugged off the notion that the Gagné trade was a bad deal.

"They won a World Series," he said.

Before last night's game, Murphy and Gabbard were given rings for that World Series. It was special, but more because it made Murphy think back to those 10 days and further back to the years he spent in the Sox organization.

"Obviously, when you get drafted, all you can think about is having a long big league career with the team you get drafted by," he said. "It's weird. When I got traded, it was a little bittersweet, but at the same time, I knew that right off the bat I was going to have a better opportunity to play."

Murphy said that when he tells all this to his daughter someday, "it'll be a good story." But he wouldn't change any of the details.

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