Bill Murphy doesn't duck the question.
"There's no doubt about it, if I got picked in the Rule V draft, and knew I was going to spend all year in the big leagues, that'd be the best situation I could imagine."
Murphy, the talented lefty who was the key component to the Steve Finley trade in 2004, was left unprotected by the Diamondbacks when he was left off the 40 man roster. It might be a devastating blow to the confidence of some players, but Murphy isn't 'some players.'
"Bob Gephardt told me Friday morning, I think we were about to play Panama, and he just said, 'Good luck on Saturday, we took you off the 40 man, and you cleared waivers.' He didn't give me a reason they took me off, but it isn't hard to figure out. I haven't pitched that well this season. You can't let that beat you up, this is a business, it's a numbers game. The Diamondbacks have a lot of talented young players in their system, and there are only so many spots on the 40 man. Not everybody is going to get the call, and I'm not going to let it affect me."
Murphy certainly didn't when he pitched that Saturday. Pitching for Team USA in Olympic qualifying, Murphy threw a gem, allowing only one run in six innings, striking out four and picking up the win.
"It's crazy, all these teams want to come out and just kill Team USA," Murphy says of the qualifying games, "It's just a different brand of baseball, you're playing small ball all the time."
For Murphy, it was a great start personally, because he understands what he's playing for.
"It's a different level of competition, but it's also a different kind of competition. When you're playing for your country, it really does mean something. People talk about playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back, and when you're in this type of game, you just really understand what that means."
It was a dominating start for Murphy, in a year of disappointing ones, but his 'post season' has had several big time starts, and this was just one.
"I think the one start I had in the AFL, against the Scorpions, that was probably my best start all season."
That might have been one of the best starts by any pitcher all season. Playing against a team that quite literally has six of the top 20 prospects in all of baseball on it Murphy threw six innings of one hit ball, striking out 10. It was the kind of performance the Diamondbacks were hoping to see on a consistent basis when they got Murphy in a three way trade with the Dodgers and Marlins, but the kind that has been few and far between in reality.
Some players, particularly pitchers, have dreaded their time in the AFL. It's the end of a long season, the opposing lineups are loaded, they are tired, and the ball travels in the dry desert air, but for Murphy, it was spectacular.
"I think I came out of that league awesome. I only had one or two bad outings, that last one killed me, but I punched out 40 guys and only walked four. There wasn't so much something I was doing differently down there mechanically or anything, I was just attacking the zone early and often. During the season I'd attack early and then start playing around, nibbling, trying to get guys to chase pitches. In the AFL I didn't get to 3-2, because when it's 3-2 it seems like bad things happen. If you attack the zone, even if a guy gets a hit on the first pitch you throw, you only threw one pitch, so you know, 'Oh well.' I want to pitch deep into games, and you don't go deep into games with a whole lot of 3-2 pitches."
For Murphy it was a long, hard season, but his work in the AFL, and on the Olympic qualifying team, gave it a very good ending. He's back home now, looking forward to a little golf, but he'll be back up and working before you know it.
"I've got to get ready, I'm already a month and a half behind on my offseason stuff.
Murphy will sit and wait until the Rule V draft, and see if he goes, but if he doesn't, it won't change a thing for him.
"I'll come in the same as last year, ready to pitch, and if I pitch well, I'll get my shot."