There has been a lot written and said the past week or so about Nyjer Morgan, some of it from Morgan himself.
“I just think this place isn’t for me,” he told MLB.com on Friday — hours before he’d play his last major league game in a Nationals uniform. “I’m not saying there are bad people here. It’s just that maybe I’m not a fit here anymore. It’s time to move on.”
So the Nationals made that happen Sunday morning, sending Morgan to the Brewers in exchange for minor league infielder Cutter Dykstra and $50,000.
Looking back on the spring from where we are now, it’s easy to think that the entire competition between Morgan, Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina was something of a facade. Did the Nationals ever intend on allowing Morgan to retain the job as the team’s starting center fielder, or was his epitaph written the day Ankiel signed this winter?
If you’re basing this decision solely on spring training stats, it’s hard to make a case that they did:
Bernadina: .255 AVG, .321 OBP, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 6 R, 3 SB, 1CS
Morgan: .241 AVG, .328 OBP, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9 R, 6 SB, 3 CS
Ankiel: .218 AVG, .271 OBP, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 8 R, 2 SB, 0 CS
But that same argument could be used to support Roger Bernadina as the team’s starting center fielder and that’s not the route they’re going either. Bernadina’s numbers, though, are a little deceiving as the outfielder is incredibly streaky and has cooled considerably since a hot start to the preseason.
What’s done is done, though and the situation as we wake up this morning is this: Rick Ankiel is the Nationals’ so-called starting center fielder, in a platoon with Jerry Hairston Jr. — two players with over 15 years of major league experience combined.
Let’s say they were one player, for argument’s sake. You take Ankiel’s average vs. right-handers, .254, and Hairston’s vs left-handers, .262, and you’re getting a .258 average out of your center field spot.
In 2010, Morgan was only good for a .253 average, he got caught stealing more than anyone else in the league and his antics on the field had worn thin.
It would seem to be almost a wash, batting average-wise. So the question I ask to you today is this: On the field in 2011, are the Nationals better off without Nyjer Morgan?