The Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed on a deal that will send OF Lastings Milledge and RHP Joel Hanrahan to Pittsburgh in return for OF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett.
After reading some opinions from a few Pirates and Nationals bloggers, the consensus seems to be the Nationals have a slight edge. In my opinion the Nationals fleeced the Pirates. Of course we may not know the real winner for years to come.
Fan Graphs believes baseball’s worst outfield just got better with addition of Nyjer Morgan. I like their analysis of the trade.
Washington’s outfield has combined for a -24.5 UZR this year, easily the worst in baseball (the next lowest is the Blue Jays at -19.2). The combination of Elijah Dukes, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Austin Kearns, and Willie Harris have been disastrous in the field, which is a pretty significant problem when you’re trying to develop a young pitching staff.
Morgan is far form a defensive liability. He has 743 innings between LF/RF and a career UZR of +15.4, along with 391 innings in center field and a UZR of +11.9. Those numbers are off-the-charts awesome. If Nyjer Morgan was really a +35 UZR/150 center fielder, he’d be in the conversation for the best defensive outfielder of all time.
For the Pirates, they get to try to figure out how to extract some value from Lastings Milledge who would have to take several steps forward before he was as good as Morgan is now. Can’t say I’m a fan of this move for Pittsburgh, but that’s getting to be a theme lately. The Pirates have made a series of head-scratching moves of late, and this one just continues that trend.
I like the deal for the Nationals simply because in Nyjer Morgan they get an everyday player with value who won’t embarrass himself at the plate, and they lose a major headache in Milledge who was sent to AAA after a slow start with the Nationals that saw him batting .167 after seven games.
Morgan was batting .277 (77-for-278) with six doubles, five triples, two home runs and 27 RBI in 71 games. Morgan was leading the Pirates in batting (.322, 66-for-205) against right-handed pitchers in 2009. He currently ranks fifth in the National League with 18 stolen bases, and he currently leads all MLB left fielders in total chances per 9.0 innings and range factor per game. Morgan is a great addition for the Nationals and it upgrades their speed and defense.
Sean Burnett, 26, was 1-2 with six holds, one save and a 3.06 ERA (11 ER/32.1 IP) in a team-leading 38 appearances for Pittsburgh. A two-time (2001 and 2002) Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Burnett is 7-8 with 14 holds, one save and a 4.54 ERA (81 ER/160.2 IP) in 109 games (13 starts) spanning three big league seasons with Pittsburgh. The Nationals even got the better pitcher. Burnett was having a solid season and he definitely becomes a nice weapon in the Nationals bullpen.
Joel Hanrahan, 27, finished 0-3 with five saves (10 save opportunities) and a 7.71 ERA (28 ER/32.2 IP) in 34 appearances with the Nationals in 2009.
Seriously, I don’t know what the Pirates were thinking here…