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Nyjer Morgan, One Month After the Trade

When Nyjer Morgan joined Washington via a trade from Pittsburgh one month ago, several uncertainties about his game came along with him. Would Morgan be able to hit above .280? Could he minimize his mistakes on the basepaths? Could his defense, dazzling in left field, translate to center field, where Washington planned to play him?

Well, we've seen Morgan for a month now. The answers, in order: Yes, yes and yes.

As a Nat, Morgan has exceeded all hopes; he has basically been Ichiro with a better slap shot. Though the trade officially went down on June 30, Morgan first played with the Nats on July 3; thus, his stats with Washington are identical to his stats in July. So check out the MLB leaders this month. Morgan is hitting .389 (22 games), fourth-best in baseball for July. His 13 stolen bases are tops. Just as relevant: The metrics that measure fielding, even as the sample size increases, only reaffirm the best-case hopes. UZR/150 measures how many runs above or below average a player is defensively over 150 games. Among the 45 players who've played at least 200 innings in center this year, Morgan's UZR/150 (25.8) is second-best in baseball. (DeWayne Wise of the White Sox has a 28.8 UZR/150.)

Defensively, pitcher Collin Balester said, Morgan is "unbelievable. Like I told him, 'They've got to hit it over the fence to get it by you.' He runs down everything, and it really, as a pitcher, makes you feel more comfortable to let them hit the ball in play."

"Nyjer, he's just been outstanding in every facet since he's been here," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "Defense. Base running. Driving in runs."

Nobody expects Morgan to maintain his incendiary pace -- especially at the plate. But even when one backs up and looks at Morgan's entire season, the numbers are promising. He's hitting .304, on pace for around a 180- or 190-hit season. On the bases, he's a professional agitator -- jumping, dancing, causing pickoff throws and pitchouts, allowing hitters behind him to see more fastballs. Defensively, he glides toward balls; he covers so much ground that even Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn are benefiting.

Said Morgan: "It feels good just finally being able to show what I have."

By Chico Harlan  |  July 29, 2009; 9:58 AM ET
 
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Comments

Nyjer has been absolutely awesome. Look forward to keeping him with the Nats for a long time.

Posted by: 1stpick | July 29, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I have a man crush on Nyjer.

Posted by: hleeo3 | July 29, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

scooter, good point regarding 9/a pick, one or the other.

i still do like storen. not trying to downplay him. and i can understand picking him there.

"sexy at the dish" should definitely be the running headline.

i'd even go so far as to say lannan is "Sexy Toe'n the Rubber"

Posted by: longterm | July 29, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse


Defensive centers
Vital again, post-steroids
Kudos to Rizzo

Posted by: HaikuMan | July 29, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

For shame, Chico, you should know better than to proclaim victory on him being able to hit over .280 after only one month.

Emilio Bonifacio?
Felipe Lopez?
Austin Kearns?

Let's give him at least another month.

Posted by: Section506 | July 29, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

In the month-by-month competition, it's Nyjer Morgan 1, Lastings Milledge 0. Hanrahan-Burnett is probably a draw. So for now the trade looks good.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 29, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

i'd do that trade again even if nyjer was hitting 8th.

Posted by: longterm | July 29, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, his glove alone is his bread and butter.

Posted by: hleeo3 | July 29, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Morgan's been a breath of fresh air; I've enjoyed watching him play some D & use his speed on the bases.

Posted by: Max231 | July 29, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Has there ever been an explanation from Pittsburgh as to why they traded Nyjer? I cannot imagine what the Pittsburgh perspective could have possibly been to trade this guy for Milledge.

Posted by: raymitten | July 29, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I mean, I love me some "sexy at the dish," but I think Pittsburgh's reasoning is pretty transparent. Nyjer is probably a finished product - he's never going to be better than he is now. Milledge, much as people hate hearing this, still has the potential to be a better player in the long term. Will he reach that potential? Dunno. But Pittsburgh is not playing for this year, they are playing for a couple of years from now. So, they are trying to acquire talent that will allow them to field a competitive team in a few years. From their perspective, they made exactly the kind of trade the Nats should be making, flipping "ready-now" players for prospects.

Posted by: Section220 | July 29, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

"Has there ever been an explanation from Pittsburgh as to why they traded Nyjer? I cannot imagine what the Pittsburgh perspective could have possibly been to trade this guy for Milledge."

Andrew McClutchen is their hot centerfield prospect. Nyjer was a 28-year-old playing left field for them and they took a chance on a 24-year-old playing center field for the Nationals projected to hit for a lot more power.

Posted by: Section506 | July 29, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I don't think it's any coincidence that the staff ERA has lowered dramaticallly (especially the starters) since Morgan came over. And while he's 29, he only started playing baseball when he was 20, so I don't think it's unreasonable to expect him to improve at the plate, or at least somewhat maintain his current production. He has definitely plugged the CF hole that came with the Expos.

I am of the opinion that the team, as presently constituted is not as bad as the record and should not be total dismantled in the next week. Sure we only need two of these three - Dunn, Willingham, and Johnson - and maybe move 40 something Villone and Beimel (who has already said he'd like to return to the Dodgers next year), but the majority of the lineup should be back for '10.

We are stuck with Guzman, but as a 2B, he would above average. Flores will plug the C hole, so that leaves a real shortstop and RF as the main areas of need this offseason. Ideally, Bernadina provides more speed and D in RF. I don't think Desmond will be good enough defensively to stay at short much longer (but maybe 2B if Guzzie goes) so I would consider dealing a young SP to Atlanta for Yunel Escobar, who they have talked about moving.

The pitching staff still needs work, but the starting 8 for '10 are beginning to come into focus.

Posted by: sec307 | July 29, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Seems like the apropos place for this: attitude is everything ... at least that's what one Viktor Emil Frankl found in the concentration camps ...

From the previous posts ...

Storen vs Grant Green?:

Storen: 19 innings pitched, 33 strike outs, NO WALKS. Advanced from Hagerstown to Potomac. Looks like Harrisburg is next.

Isn't it attitude as much as talent? Storen believes he should be the Natinal's closer ... this very minute. I like that.

Posted by: periculum | July 29, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Defensive centers
Vital again, post-steroids
Kudos to Rizzo

Posted by: HaikuMan | July 29, 2009"

Dude, they're looking for you over on RI?

Posted by: periculum | July 29, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to Rizzo. The Morgan/Burnett deal, along with the purge of the bullpen and removal of St. Claire (and Acta) show that this is a guy willing to make tough decisions. Clearly, the direction the team was heading was not the right one, and it's nice to see a guy who was willing to man up and make the needed course correction. The Lerners should take note.

Posted by: terrapin31590us | July 29, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

When did a 30 year old baseball player become such a bad thing? Aren't we all tired of "prospects" learning at the major-league level?

It's one thing if a guys is 34 or 35, which means his career will be over in a couple years, but a 30 year old still a number of prime years left. All of our position players will still be in their prime in three years (expect maybe Guzzie), so I don't think there should be any "need" to trade them. That said, if we don't trade Dunn, we should extend him two more years. A decision needs to be whether he is a part of the future or not. I hope that he is.

Posted by: sec307 | July 29, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I am loving Morgan's game as much as the rest of the Nats fans; but I think it is a bit premature to think he is the anchor of the outfield for the future. This sounds eerily similar to what people were saying about Nook Logan - remember how that turned out?

Posted by: CoachD1 | July 29, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Storen is gonna beat Strasburg to the major leagues. Good job Boras, you know how to take good care of your clients. I wish that would make some ink if that happens.

Pittsburgh never stops rebuilding. If Pittsburgh was a computer, it would be Windows Vista. They just keep rebooting but you know Windows 7 is in there somewhere.

It's sad, I was thinking the other day. An outfield of Bay, McClouth, and Morgan! Seriously if they didn't go trade crazy every year for prospects they would be contenders every year. I like rebuilding for the future, there has to be a point, in which it has to stop.

Posted by: hleeo3 | July 29, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"When did a 30 year old baseball player become such a bad thing? Aren't we all tired of "prospects" learning at the major-league level?"

Posted by: sec307 | July 29, 2009 11:50 AM

1,000 times this. Nyjer has been a breath of fresh air. He's the polar opposite of Lastings Milledge, and he's my new favorite player. In a season in which so much has gone wrong, I'm just happy to watch a player like him.

Posted by: bryc3 | July 29, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Not necessarily saying a 30-year-old player is a "bad" thing, but it's not a "great" thing. Players tend to peak during their age 26-28 seasons. (Per Bill James, et al.)

Your view on whether the Nats should "blow up" the team obviously depends on where you think the Nats are on the development curve. Some people clearly think the Nats are just a couple of pieces away - I don't happen to agree. I think the entire system needs large infusions of talent, and trading players is one immediate way to get that.

On Pittsburgh, I think Pittsburgh is (finally) doing *exactly* what they need to do, which is jettison everyone with value and begin a serious rebuilding effort. This will mean the team will be atrocious for a couple of years. It won't be fun to watch. But it may make them a LOT of fun to watch down the road.

Posted by: Section220 | July 29, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"This sounds eerily similar to what people were saying about Nook Logan - remember how that turned out? "

Ugh. Yes.

Posted by: Section506 | July 29, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree Rizzo has been good to date. BEST LINE OF THE YEAR....."I just got tired of watching him pitch"......Rizzo on why he DFAed DCab

Posted by: JayBeee | July 29, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Pittsburgh has traded two All-Star OF's (Jason Bay, Nate McLouth) and two other everyday OF's in Morgan and Nady in the last season. After trading Adam LaRoche, they are essentially an expansion team. The moves gave them no major-league ready talent and destroyed the morale in the clubhouse. Even though their record is better than the Nats, our core talent and starting pitching is far better. I thought Nats ownership was cheap, but Pittsburgh's is worse.

Morgan is a catalyst on offense and the best defensive CF the Nats have had for a long time. Even if he only hits .270, his defense and speed on the bases are a huge asset. His style of play reminds me a lot of Mickey Rivers in his prime. This trade looks to be a steal considering we got rid of a headcase in Milledge and a struggling reliever in Hanrahan while also picking up a good lefty for the bullpen.

Posted by: wizfan89 | July 29, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

As great as Morgan has been, I think a lot of the success trade-wise has been getting someone who can fill the role of a center fielder.

Milledge and Dukes are really corner outfielders (from what everyone says since I don't get to see games) who had to play/learn CF on the fly. Morgan came in able to play the position with no learning curve and play it well.

So much of successful coaching/managing is the ability to find the right players for the different roles.

Posted by: derwink | July 29, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo cutting Hill was another decisive move that shows he get how to build a baseball team rather than a fantasy baseball team. Trade for Kensing was also good as was the trip to the minors for Kensing and Bergman. I like the produce or get cut or send down approach Rizzo has. It is not personal it is Pro Baseball. Players get it....fans should too. I am pretty sure WMP was also a cut the loss Rizzo move too.

Posted by: JayBeee | July 29, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Brings to mind a Reds trade back in the day. They traded a player to the O's for pitcher Milt Pappas, saying that the player in question was "an old 30." He didn't do much in the six years he was with the TTMNBN. Just won the Triple Crown. Oh, and was AL MVP. And World Series MVP. Hit .300 a few times. Hit a dinger or two. Who was that guy again? ...hmmm.... Can't quite remember...

---

"When did a 30 year old baseball player become such a bad thing? Aren't we all tired of "prospects" learning at the major-league level?"

Posted by: sec307 | July 29, 2009 11:50 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 29, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Guess Rizzo has decided to focus on signing Strasburg and Karns. That is good.

Posted by: periculum | July 29, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris just bought a pair of Plush pjs.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey, don't be dissin' Super Willie...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 29, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Yes, one month is too early to proclaim Cap'n Morgan an unqualfied success but it seems clear that he already knows how to do certain thngs. Like use his speed to track down flyballs, take pitches to get on base, bunt to get on base, steal bases and disrupt pitchers. It's not clear whether Milledge has the ability, work ethic or mindset to accomplish any of these things in the near or distant future. Maybe he needs a wakeup call to get going. I wlll gladly take a hardworking Nyjer Morgan over a preening Lasting Milledge.

Posted by: SackMan | July 29, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree with bryc3, Captain Morgan is my new favorite player. He makes plays every night that are web-gems. We love his laugh.

Dunn, Zim, Morgan, Ham, Flores, Strasburg and our baby starters are a good core as we move into the free agent market this off-season.

Did anyone else catch the home plate unpires comment to Riggs when he was complaining about the lack of a strike call on a check swing 3 or 4 games ago? The ump said, "Cut it out, Jimmy." What a riot. We say that all the time now when the camera cuts to him. Jimmy is a breath of fresh air as we have heard from numerous players beginning with Zim and the latest was Beimel. Bunts, hit and runs, in-game strategy. Now if they could only get the MASN camera crew to consistently catch the action on field (instread of having to wait for the replay).

Go Nats - 5 in-a-row tonight!

Posted by: alm1000 | July 29, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

No doubt Nyjer has been a revelation. Shoot, it's great just to see one Nat make SportsCenter's Top Plays once in a while. But his baserunning remains a concern. He has 13 steals, yes, but he's also been caught four times. For someone with such blazing speed, there's no reason his success rate should be under 80%.

Posted by: TheGreenMiles | July 29, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

no disrespect at all, 1a--just the opposite.
T.Plush is, for now at least, a total package.
Making adjustments at the plate: "They can't get me out--might as well take a rip at one of these beach balls they're featuring this month."
You would *never* advise that, but he's on a roll. Will it stop? Of course. When? Nobody knows--although I suspect hitting against relievers-as-emergency-starters won't last the rest of the year, either.

I'm just enjoying this.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I figured that, sec3. I should have added an emoticon (wink wink, nudge nudge) to my post.

I'm definitely enjoying the wins. Now to beat that 4-game winning streak record...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 29, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Captain Morgan and his Natty Pirats have been making a bit of an impression. The big test comes in August against playoff primed teams.

Pitching looks to still be the key.

Posted by: periculum | July 29, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

oooo good call JayBeee. I forgot about that one-liner from Rizzo.

I don't think Pittsburgh's rebuilding effort is genuine, unless they can sign a player or two to a contract like Zimmerman's. They just keep trading players away. And they just traded a couple more players to Mariners.

It kinda sucks that the Nats couldn't get Jonathan Sanchez for Nick Johnson. That seems to be a fair offer.

Nats 2nd half MVP so far has to be Nyjer Morgan but obviously Lannan is the team MVP for the whole year.

Posted by: hleeo3 | July 29, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Morgan is 29 and hasn't played in one full season. Where has he been all this time? And why?

Posted by: dovelevine | July 29, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

-Dovelevine
Morgan used to be a hockey player, a pretty good one I hear. I don't know the full story but he dropped hockey and went to baseball later than most.

Posted by: hleeo3 | July 29, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

But his baserunning remains a concern. He has 13 steals, yes, but he's also been caught four times. For someone with such blazing speed, there's no reason his success rate should be under 80%.

Posted by: TheGreenMiles | July 29, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse
--
Then again, he did steal 2nd TWICE in the last two nights with a PITCHOUT on. That's some blazing speed, right there.

Posted by: cdstej | July 29, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Just look him up on wikipedia, they have your answer.

Posted by: hleeo3 | July 29, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

"Morgan is 29 and hasn't played in one full season. Where has he been all this time? And why?

Posted by: dovelevine | July 29, 2009"

He started baseball at age 26. He's from Canada I tink thus the hockey obsession. He said to play baseball like a hockey player, aggressive, no holds barred. The attitude as much as the hitting, base stealing and fielding was what attracted Rizzo. The Nats desperately needed that.

Posted by: periculum | July 29, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

ok thanks.

Posted by: dovelevine | July 29, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo gets my vote for recognizing players that were dragging down the team. He recognized the inevitable about Hanrahan and Trilledge and still managed to make someone believe they have potential. Just getting rid of those players would have helped; the success of Morgan is just icing on the cake.

Posted by: Tom8 | July 29, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

My head is spinning from reading the comments today almost as much as when they go on a four game losing streak. I thought we were irrationally negative on this blog, but it turns out we're just plain irrational.

Posted by: Section506 | July 29, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Morgan is 29 and hasn't played in one full season. Where has he been all this time? And why?

PITTSBURGH and PITTSBURGH

Posted by: bigmiken | July 29, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

According to MLBTradeRumors.com

The Nationals requested Jonathan Sanchez for Nick Johnson.

---

I would've been a fan of that deal, although, after that no-no Sanchez might just be at peak value.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | July 29, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"When did a 30 year old baseball player become such a bad thing? Aren't we all tired of 'prospects' learning at the major-league level?"

I think a big part of that must be salaries plus injuries ... especially when it comes to pitchers. In today's game with 90-100 mph throwers the arms wear down pretty darned fast if they are over-used. Kind of like a running back in the NFL.

That leads into the money. Morgan is the perfect over-30 type from a baseball franchise perspective. He is in great shape, just blossoming, and making around 400K.

Now, if you pay a pitcher more than a few million a year to pitch, and he comes down with arm trouble? Probably happens more often to guys over thirty. Performance goes way down ... and you can't release them without taking a huge hit. Only a few teams can handle that without flinching. You can't trade them, teams are unwilling to take any sort of risk.

So, I guess that's why you see the current trend toward favoring youth in which a prospect's age and level in the minors has as much to do with his progress as his performance.

Posted by: periculum | July 29, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer Morgan will cool off at the plate. But so what. He is still exactly what this team needs. Even if he hits .280 instead of .380, that's good enough. His defense and speed wont go into a slump. He has been rejuvenated by the trade and coming to a team where he feels wanted and respected. Good for him.

This team should not be blown up like the Pirates. That would be crazy. The Nats need more talent at key positions - middle infield and the bullpen are most glaring - and they need some of their young players to live up to their potential (both Zims, Flores, SS) but that's not a reason to blow up the team.

Posted by: natshopemonger | July 29, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the Phils are close to getting Cliff Lee. IMO, better for us than if they get Halladay

(LHP vs. our right-handed heavy lineup better than RHP with filthy cutter)

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 29, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

"I would've been a fan of that deal, although, after that no-no Sanchez might just be at peak value."

I think you might be right...career ERA over 5 and 2-to-1 k/BB ratio. I'd like to think we can do better. Personally I say we ride Nick till he can't walk! I'd rather risk antother injury than lose him for a mid-level pitcher.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | July 29, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"He is still exactly what this team needs. Even if he hits .280 instead of .380, that's good enough."

That is actually good for a CF

Posted by: Section506 | July 29, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone else feel that maybe the trade deadline will yield exactly nothing for Nationals fans?

Posted by: soundbloke | July 29, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

If true, I'm not sure. Sanchez is an innings-eating, 5.x ERA starter, which the Nats seem to have a few of, and the Giants still didn't bite. Of course, like all deals, it's not compared to perfect, it's compared to the alternative. If you can send him to a contender for any useful possibility at all, and re-sign him in the winter (if you must--I wish him well elsewhere), then you're ahead. If he were sure to be a Type B and bring a draft pick, I might change my mind, but I think that's not at all a given.
And I think the risk with Nick is that he won't even be a Type B by season's end, and they get even less that

*********
According to MLBTradeRumors.com
The Nationals requested Jonathan Sanchez for Nick Johnson.
---
I would've been a fan of that deal, although, after that no-no Sanchez might just be at peak value.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

"I am loving Morgan's game as much as the rest of the Nats fans; but I think it is a bit premature to think he is the anchor of the outfield for the future. This sounds eerily similar to what people were saying about Nook Logan - remember how that turned out?

Posted by: CoachD1"

Nyjer Morgan just had an absolutely brilliant month. Nook Logan never had even as much as a halfway decent nanosecond. Big difference.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 29, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

> Does anyone else feel that maybe the trade deadline will yield exactly nothing for Nationals fans?

If it yields the retention of Dunn, Willingham and Johnson that would be more than enough for me. Getting rid of Dukes for even a bag of balls would just be icing on the cake.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 29, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

and yet, he played major league baseball for several years. I'm not asking what you do for a living, but that's the top of his profession, which most players never get to. Just sayin.

**********
Nook Logan never had even as much as a halfway decent nanosecond.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

now all we need is another great fielder at short and we have a pretty solid defensive lineup. Especially considering Adam Dunn's defensive ineptitude.

This was a great trade.

Posted by: natsfan111 | July 29, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"(LHP vs. our right-handed heavy lineup better than RHP with filthy cutter)"

HUH?

Morgan LHB
Guzman SWI
Zimmerman RHB
Dunn LHB
Willingham RHB
Johnson LHB
Bard LHB
Gonzalez RHB

I think I see 4 left-handed hitters plus 1 switch hitter ... not sure which side he is most effective on?

Posted by: periculum | July 29, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Yes, and ... he came to the game in his 20's. Some people are late bloomers--it happens. He may have 10 years of productive CF left. Some people don't thrive until they get into just the right circumstances, and then they learn how to replicate that. I wouldn't bet the house on it, but it does happen. And really good centerfielders are hard to find.

*********
Nyjer Morgan will cool off at the plate, but so what? He is still exactly what this team needs. Even if he hits .280 instead of .380, that's good enough. His defense and speed wont go into a slump. He has been rejuvenated by the trade and coming to a team where he feels wanted and respected. Good for him.
Posted by: natshopemonger | July 29, 2009 1:59 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Why would anyone want to write Elijah Dukes off after one slow start to a season? That makes ZERO sense. In just over 300 ABs last season he was a very productive in LF/RF (.386 OBP, 125 OPS+), and that was in a lineup with absolutely no production. Plus, dude is an above average defensive corner outfielder.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | July 29, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

As we continue to contemplate vets for prospects, let's keep in mind the following: Baseball America's Top 10 prospect list as of 10 years ago. If this doesn't show how hit or miss prospects can be, what does? A bird in the hand...

1. J.D. Drew
2. Rick Ankiel (as a pitcher)
3. Eric Chavez
4. Bruce Chen
5. Brad Penny
6. Michael Barrett
7. Ryan Anderson
8. Pablo Ozuna
9. Ruben Mateo
10. Matt Clement

Posted by: cdstej | July 29, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

and Dunn is ... well, improving. If he can catch ball coming right at him (and I think he does, in left and occasionally at 1st), and hit like he has been, he's earning his considerable pay.
Give up some for the sliding catch--and then tell him DON'T EVER TRY THAT AGAIN! Nobody hits much with a broken leg.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

506, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one wondering what's going on. I feel like a curmudgeon because I'm not jumping up and down like old Scrooge on Christmas morning, after a four-game winning streak. Four games!

Now, if you read today's posts, it's only been a case of bad luck and, of course, the evil spectre that is Manny Acta that's kept this team from winning. The playoffs are just around the corner, apparently.

I have a simple question. If a lot of the good teams are willing to make trades (some of which involve trading current starters) why wouldn't the worst team do the same thing?

Posted by: baltova1 | July 29, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

> and yet, he played major league baseball for several years.

Well, he was on major league fields wearing major league uniforms, I'll grant you that. But really, what was he doing? What was he thinking?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 29, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Just a guess, but it might be because he is in fact an average at best corner outfielder, with bad knees.
**************
Why would anyone want to write Elijah Dukes off after one slow start to a season? That makes ZERO sense. In just over 300 ABs last season he was a very productive in LF/RF (.386 OBP, 125 OPS+), and that was in a lineup with absolutely no production. Plus, dude is an above average defensive corner outfielder.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | July 29, 2009 2:20 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I didn't say it was always pretty...

**********
> and yet, he played major league baseball for several years.

Well, he was on major league fields wearing major league uniforms, I'll grant you that. But really, what was he doing? What was he thinking?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 29, 2009

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Cliff Lee to the Phillies along with outfielder Ben Francisco.

The Phillies will send pitchers Jason Knapp and Carlos Carrasco, shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson to the Indians, an American League executive told CBSSports.com's Scott Miller.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 29, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Everyone can contribute, even if it's only as a cautionary example.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I think he's from California but played hockey for Canada.

---

He's from Canada I tink thus the hockey obsession.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 29, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

> Why would anyone want to write Elijah Dukes off after one slow start to a season?

Haven't you heard? Mike Rizzo is all about changing the clubhouse culture 'round here. That's all the reason that's needed.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 29, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Bad news: Halladay to Phils. Really bad news: this article is by Ken Rosenthal.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/9866900/Sources:-Phils-reach-agreement-for-Indians%27-Lee

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

No, that was supposed to read:
Good news: the Phillies aren't getting Halladay. Bad news: ....

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, don't you people have editors?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

natshopemonger = great moniker

Wut r edterz, sec3?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 29, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

@baltova: the good teams can taste the playoffs--and a good GM knows just what weakness the team has and which team can fill that weakness, and how much to "pay" for him. The GM knows what kind of team he has, and how to play to the strengths

We have:

1) No "identity" as a team. Are we a "scrappy", great defense, team that wins those extra inning 2-1 games?

2) Do we have great pitching, but need offense?

3) Do we have offense, but need pitching?

Basically what we have is a bunch of guys who like each other, apparently, and a GREAT reluctance to give up any of them because NEXT year that guy might be the key to breaking .500. There isn't a single guy on the current team who doesn't have his defenders on this forum.

We need to keep Dunn.
Why would we get rid of Beimel?
We should work Nick till he breaks down like an old racehorse.
Gotta keep Hernandez/Gonzales they are young.
We should keep Dukes, and what is he doing in the minors?
Well, of course we have to keep Willingham, especially after the 2 slammers...

and on and on it does.


Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 29, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

er, on and on it goes...

It was pretty clear Hanrahan had to go, and in retrospect, Milledge, too. But after that--?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 29, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I moved the few I didn't lay off to covering the Arm-Wrestling Championships.

***********
Wut r edterz, sec3?
Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 29, 2009 2:34 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Good one!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 29, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Fortunately, Natslady, you answer your own question. The GM makes the trades, not us.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Good news: Ken Rosenthal is calling another team a laughing stock.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/9860956/There-are-plenty-to-blame-for-Mets/%27-dysfunction

Bad news: Nobody gives a rat's patoot what Ken Rosenthal thinks.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 29, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

But since you brought it up, it *is* a good question, Nats' team identity.
Among themselves, and in the public eye.

Right now, I think they're in a position to start transitioning from Perennial Loser, Butt of All Jokes to Mediocre Decent Hit, Young but Talented SP, Flawed D and Bullpen.
But that'll take at least a full year if it happens.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow, *Rosenthal* calling you a laughingstock--that's gotta hurt. That's like a rottweiler criticizing your table manners.

*********
Good news: Ken Rosenthal is calling another team a laughing stock.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Ok, here's my say.

Nick's gotta go.
Willingham is at his peak, and a contending team would give a lot for him RIGHT NOW--trade him while his price is high.
As long as we have Villone and Burnett in the pen, we don't need Beimel. I like him a lot, but we ain't gettin' nada for Villone and Burnett is younger.
Take a SOLID look around and see if we REALLY need to continue the Gonzales/Hernandes experiment.
I wouldn't trade Harris, because where are you gonna get a replacement for him? But, if you can make Gonzales or Hernandez into Willie--then go for it.
After you've done all that, you look around at Belliard, Guz, and Kearns and see if there is any team that might have an immediate need for their talents. If so, go for it.
You have to keep the two catchers until we are sure Flores is back.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 29, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Couple comments...

Imjustlikemusiq commented above about giving up on Elijah Dukes... you don't give up on someone because of a slump. You give up on someone because they're a distraction in the clubhouse. It is one thing to have a player in a slump... and another to have a team in a slump because the clubhouse has negative synergy. Elijah Dukes could be the redemption story of the decade *IF* he could get his personal life in order and be a positive contributor to the clubhouse. I'd love to see it... I think he's electric on the field... but I am not counting on it... and I think the Nats have in fact given up on him...

Which brings me to Morgan (who, incidentally, is from the Bay Area)... Even if you forget about Burnett in the trade, and look at it as Morgan for Milledge straight-up, it is still a win for the Nats... because even if Milledge becomes a superstar, he's a disruptive superstar. Morgan is better defensively, for the moment, comparable offensively, and maybe a year ahead developmentally.

A lot of people discount the influence of clubhouse atmosphere, and point to teams like the Yankees that have had world series seasons with a crappy clubhouse... but it is one thing when everyone is being paid like a star, and the clubhouse stinks, and another when players are getting something close to the league minimum. Being a professional doesn't come naturally to a 23 year old kid.

I think Rizzo is right going for the "character" guys... Synergy is a big deal, and not quantifiable statistically.


Posted by: wigi | July 29, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Nats_Lady, I am gonna quote Boswell and say that if the Nats were a car, they would not be a car. They have 5 wheels, no brakes, no steering wheel, and etc.

"We need to keep Dunn."
Yes

"Why would we get rid of Beimel?"
Because he will not be Nats after this year. Other teams would out-bid us for his services in free-agency. He should be traded like we did Mike Stanton for Shairon Martis.

"We should work Nick till he breaks down like an old racehorse."
If he signs a 1-year deal around 5 million then I will agree with you.

"Gotta keep Hernandez/Gonzalaz they are young."
Hernandez is 26-27? He is not getting better, he looks lost at the plate anymore and at defense, he should go to AAA for some work. Gonzalez is about the same age and good off the bench so yes should keep him but not start everyday.

"We should keep Dukes, and what is he doing in the minors?"
Dukes is in the minors because of Willinghammer. He should be traded because he isn't really getting better as a player. He has regress since last year and his body can't handle his aggressive playing style. I hope Dukes can turn it around tho, can't help but wish for a turnaround.

"Well, of course we have to keep Willingham, especially after the 2 slammers..."
Unless we are offered 2 awesome prospects, than yes.

Posted by: hleeo3 | July 29, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Here's the thing about trades: if any contender would have given "a lot" for him, it would have happened. Not every contender needs him, at least not badly enough to offer value for him. The Nationals need someone like Willingham anyway, IMO, so I would be asking full price for him, too.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 29, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"1) No "identity" as a team. Are we a "scrappy", great defense, team that wins those extra inning 2-1 games?

2) Do we have great pitching, but need offense?

3) Do we have offense, but need pitching?"

________________________________________________

The Natinals are 4 or 5th in team batting average. They are dead last in pitching in the National League and just above Cleveland in the Major Leagues. They are dead last in saves. They are dead last in errors committed.

_______________________________________________

Rizzo addressed your first point and the last with Morgan and improved the offense.

Rizzo / management decided that the franchise has pitching ... just the wrong philosophies on how to manage / pitch games and pitchers. They changed out manager and pitching coach. However, in the end when dealing with young prospects (both Detwiler and Martis were born in 1987, Balester in 1986) you are going to have to be patient.

Rizzo drafted Strasburg and Storen; both address desperate needs. They were followed with even more pitching and some of those prospects also look promising.

________________________________________________

Rizzo does not need to make any trade unless it has the kind of immediate, and future affect that trading for Morgan and Brunett had.

Posted by: periculum | July 29, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

So much for that theory:

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/sports/The-Mystery-of-Jose-Morales.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 29, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"Why would anyone want to write Elijah Dukes off after one slow start to a season? "

And a slow down (it started strong) that corresponded with being shoehorned into a new fielding position immediately following an injury.

Character only wins championships in the movies, it's about six skillz, folks.

Posted by: Section506 | July 29, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Baltova and 506, No disrespect meant, but you are right, you are both curmudgeon's.

Are people on this forum overreacting to a 4 game winning streak? Yes.

Are the Nationals better than they have played this year? Yes.

We are Fans though, so some of the enjoyment in being a Fanatic is getting a little over excited about a few wins.

The facts are that we haven't had anyone play CF like this for us for even a week, let alone a month. That is a reason to get excited.

Another fact is the players seem to see a difference in playing for Riggs vs Acta, at least according to their quotes and recent production (small sample size i know, but the quotes speak volumes). I think the players probably have a better read on this than anyone on this forum.

We have some pieces and also have a lot of areas for improvement. This team doesn't need to be blown up, but we should move certain pieces (i.e. Nick Johnson, as much as I like the guy) for younger pieces. I really feel with a few smart moves we can compete in two years.

Posted by: curz | July 29, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Get off my lawn, curz!!!

Sorry, I was living up to my curmudgeon role. I actually don't disagree with much of what you said. Except, "Are the Nationals better than they have played this year? Yes.

Um, no, probably not. I'm a believer in the Bill Parcells "you are what your record says you are" theory.

I love Nyjer Morgan as much as anybody and actually give him more credit for the surge than the change in managers. I think the love affair with Riggleman will fade a little when the Nats still struggle to play quality defense and to find a steady bullpen and a set rotation. I think they need to make more than a few smart moves to get better.

But I'm glad to have this debate in the midst of a winning streak and hope both the debate and the streak continue.

Now get off my lawn.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 29, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

"Get off my lawn" - now that is funny.

I probably should have worded that differently.

Instead of
"Are the Nationals better than they have played this year? Yes."

I should have stated:

"I think the current Nationals roster is better than their record this year." Take a look at the roster in April and now, so much different.

Yes, the Nationals with Cabrera, et all are one of the worst teams ever, but I think this current Nationals roster is much better than their .300 winning pct this year would indicate.

But you are correct, lets see how they play against the Phillies and Marlins coming up. I hope they keep the error free, high intensity play going and compete like they have been.

Posted by: curz | July 29, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

@Baltova: I think curz is right, this team IS better than it's record. Maybe not 40 games better, but much better than the record indicates. The bullpen blew at least 10 clear wins in April and May. I don't mean 1- or 2-run GasCanrahan blown saves. I mean leads of 3 or more after the 7th. I'll bet that number is closer to 20 for the entire season. If they'd won half of those they'd at least be within spitting distance of .500.

@Sec506: With all due respect, if you think character doesn't count in sports you've never competed at a high level. There's TONS of guys with "skillz"... character -- in a collective sense -- often separates the wheat from the chaff. Not always, of course. There are exceptions. But championship teams are rarely the most skilled. Character counts. Joe Gibbs proved that 3 different times.

Posted by: outsider6 | July 29, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I say keep Willingham and Dunn, move Nick Johnson if possible (ditto that with Guzman, but too doubtful to be worth contemplating).

Move Dunn to 1B, Willingham to LF, bring Dukes back up to play RF (hopefully he's regaining his plate patience in AAA). Line-up would look something like this;

1. Morgan (CF)
2. Guzman (SS)
3. Zimmerman (3B)
4. Dunn (1B)
5. Willingham (LF)
6. Dukes (RF)
7. Bard (CA)
8. Gonzalez (2B)
9. Pitcher

I personally would prefer to swap Dukes and Guzman or if Guzman is traded then Dukes batting second, Willie Harris at 2B batting 6th and Gonzalez playing SS.

And how about this starting rotation for March '10;
Lannan
Zimmermann
Stammen
Detwiler
Balester

Martis, Martin, Mock and Chico either in AAA or the bullpen and Strasburg getting some seasoning in AA.

Posted by: estuartj | July 29, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

estuartj, bless you for not putting the college kid in your 2010 rotation.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 29, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

And bless the new post, too.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 29, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

What concerns me regarding Dukes is his injury pattern. I do not think that he will ever be able to play a full season and never one without pain in his knees. Injuries do affect a player's ability to master a position and to master himself. The frustrations involved in constantly rehabbing always push the bar higher for one such as Dukes. One thing that the Morgan acquisition does is to nail down the centerfield posltion in the minds of Rizzo and Riggleman. Players won't be forced to play a position that shows their weaknesses. Dukes won't be exposed in center. Maybe that trade will be the best thing for Dukes' reentry into the majors. Concentrating on right field only (after Kearns' departure) will be the right move for Dukes and for the Nats. Is anyone else looking forward to having Bernardina back next season? He would be the perfect sub for Morgan.

Posted by: driley | July 29, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't matter why the Jose Morales card showed up when it did. It just came at the right time. And I am wearing one of my 2 "Natstown" tee shirts again tonight (wore one of them for the last 4 days...).

Go Nats - 5 in-a-row-tonight!

Posted by: alm1000 | July 29, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

All I can say about the trade deadline is: Don't trade Elijah Dukes!!

Yes he hasn't lived up to his projections, but unlike Milledge he was always trying 100%. He only needs a little more time. I once saw him throw a ball from the right field warning track to home plate on target.

I'd put his current skills below where Willingham is now, but he projects as a all star caliber right fielder.

Posted by: anyone1 | July 29, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd put the chances of reading a new post right now at 100 percent.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 29, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

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