The rumors have been out there for at least a week, but finally we got an end to the saga that is Nyjer Morgan. According to Bill Ladson of mlb.com (click here for the article) Morgan has been sent to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for prospect Cutter Dykstra and cash considerations.
Dykstra, a former second round pick, is the son of former Major Leaguer Lenny Dykstra. Unfortunately, he has never lived up to much, with a career .274 average to go along with 16 HR and 49 SB over 831 AB. He hasn’t played above Single-A and doesn’t appear to be much of a factor for the Nationals.
The real story is Morgan, who had already lost the Nationals starting centerfield job (to Rick Ankiel) and appeared likely to open the year at Triple-A. Now he goes to Milwaukee and should be given every opportunity to beat out Carlos Gomez for regular playing time (though they could share time early on).
Gomez has always been better known for his defense than his offense. A career .246 hitter, he does have speed (though only once has he stolen more than 20 bases in a season). With a career strikeout rate of 23.9%, an inability to draw walks (5.1%) and no power to speak of (17 HR), there should be no reason to think that he will do anything to beat out Morgan. With Gomez, you have a player locked into the #7 or 8 spot in the lineup, limiting the depth.
The questions surrounding Morgan have never been solely onhis offensive ability, but about his attitude and his maturity. He’s just a year removed from hitting .307 with 42 SB between Washington and Pittsburgh. Last season was a down year, hitting .253 with 34 SB, though it was marred with incidents on the field leading to suspensions. He also suffered from a little bit of poor luck (.304 BABIP), especially for someone with his speed.
If he can get his act together and hit atop the Brewers lineup, he could be in store for a monster season. Just imagine how much better things would look with the dynamic Morgan at the top:
- Nyjer Morgan – CF
- Corey Hart – RF
- Prince Fielder – 1B
- Ryan Braun – LF
- Casey McGehee – 3B
- Rickie Weeks – 2B
- Yuniesky Betancourt – SS
- Jonathan Lucroy – C
Obviously, a lot can change. Maybe it’ll be Weeks hitting second and Hart sixth. Or maybe it’ll be Hart fifth and McGehee sixth. The fact of the matter is that, if Morgan can get his act together, the Brewers lineup becomes significantly deeper and more dangerous.
Yes, Morgan has many issues. If he can get his attitude/on-field issues in check, you would think everything else would fall into place. Is he going to be an excellent option? Of course not, considering how often he has been caught stealing in the past (34 times total the past two seasons). However, if he gains regularly playing time and is hitting leadoff in Milwaukee, he certainly will be worth owning in five outfielder formats. There should be plenty of runs and stolen bases, which gives him value.
In Washington, it appears that Ian Desmond will hit atop the lineup, with Ankiel hitting seventh. Desmond clearly is the biggest winner if he sticks in the leadoff spot, now hitting in front of Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and company. In his first full season he hit .269 with 10 HR and 17 SB in 525 AB. Yes, he needs to learn to draw a few more walks (4.9% in ’10), but with those guys behind him the numbers should improve across the board (only 59 R in ’10).
What do you think of the trade? Who is the biggest winner? What is the biggest fallout from the move?
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