Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

Nyjer Morgan is underappreciated.  I get that.  He's an amazing defender (but hasn't played much CF where I presume he'll be stationed).

But he's 29.  Perhaps his recent increase in plate discipline portends a Brett Butler-like 30's career arc but that's not likely.  That's as much of a gamble as waiting for Milledge's prime year breakout.

Morgan will make the 2009 Nationals better.  It looks like he has the skills to sustain his .350 OBA and that would make him a decent lead off hitter.  As long as his wheels hold out, his amazing defense will overshadow his slightly below mediocre offensive "contributions."  Morgan will never be a key piece and that's what is disturbing.

Basically, in this Pirate swap the Nationals have 1)sold low on two assets and 2) acquired nothing of long term value.

I love the fact that the Nats press release includes this about our new LOOGY:

Burnett sports a .200 (22-for-110) batting average against in 2009

That's pretty good, No?  He must be real good a hit prevention.

Well, not so much his BABIP (the luck factor) is an unsustainable .218.

His 6.4 k/9 doesn't profile as a guy who will always outperform average in BABIP.  In other words, the odds are Burnett turns back into the mediocre lefty reliever he's been destined to be for years. 

So on the reliever side, the swap was to get the pitcher who's had tremendous luck this year for one who's had horrendous luck.  I know it's gambler's fallacy to assume luck changes based on past performance.  But averages are averages for a reason.  The most likely result is Hanrahan pitches better and Burnett pitches worse.  So what have the Nats gained? 

I'm just not comfortable with the fact that the Pirates got 1) the guys who has a chance to be very good in MIlledge and 2) the RP who's better than his numbers indicate for 1) a guy who's likely as good as he's ever gonna be and 2) an RP who's been absurdly lucky. 

I know Milledge will most likely never materialize as an impact player.  In that case, taking the sure thing in Morgan makes sense.  But doesn't a team that is 31 games under .500 need to take big risks?  Play the upside angle at every turn? 

I guess this front office doesn't think so.  I'm sure we'll see more of that tomorrow when the international signing day arrives and well nothing happens in Nats Town.


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