The Morgan-Milledge Deal

Over the last few years, one of the easier running jokes in baseball was to suggest that any available outfielder would interest the Washington Nationals. Jim Bowden couldn’t hide his love of toolsy, athletic underperformers, so every kid who had ever been ranked on Baseball America’s Top 100 and became available gravitated towards the nations capital. So, it would be easy to continue to chuckle right along with the old joke, as today, Washington traded for another outfielder, completing the rumored Lastings Milledge for Nyjer Morgan swap by agreeing to exchange Joel Hanrahan for Sean Burnett as well.

However, this move is different. Morgan doesn’t follow the previous pattern – he can actually play baseball, especially defense. 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.

Now, he’s almost certainly not that good. There’s a lot of noise in small sample UZR numbers, and we only have about one full season’s worth of data on Morgan as an outfielder. Odds are Morgan is just a good defensive CF, not the best that anyone has ever seen. If we were to project his defensive value going forward using a regression, we’d likely end up expecting him to be something like a +10 to +20 center fielder, which puts him in the category of guys like Carlos Gomez, Franklin Gutierrez, Mike Cameron, Rajai Davis, and Darin Erstad.

Given what we know about Morgan’s skillset and his status as one of the fastest players in the game, this shouldn’t be that surprising. He has the physical skills to be a terrific defensive player, after all, so when the metrics and the scouting reports agree, there can be increased confidence in the result.

Of course, guys that are this good at defense usually aren’t much offensively. Morgan follows the pattern of a slap-hitting groundball guy who tries to get on base via a horde of singles to compensate for his lack of power. Unlike Gomez and Erstad, though, Morgan has shown some adeptness at making this work for him – his career line in the majors is .286/.351/.376, which translates to a barely below average .322 wOBA.

That’s the high end of what the Nationals should expect going forward, however – it is based on a career .346 batting average on balls in play, and while fast guys do better than average at getting on via contact, .346 is still tough to sustain. If his BABIP falls down to .320 or so, about what ZIPS projects for him going forward, than he’s more of a .310 wOBA guy.

A .310 wOBA and +10 defense in center field is still a pretty nifty player, though. Over a full season, that would make him a +2 to +2.5 win player, or right around league average. Considering that his lack of service time means he’ll be making the minimum the next couple of years, the Nationals are getting a pretty significant value in this particular outfielder. The upside isn’t super high, but he’s instantly one of the better players on that team, and will make them better both in 2009 and going forward.

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. Hanrahan is a nice buy low candidate, and a better bet for the future than Burnett, but relievers just aren’t that hard to acquire. The Pirates get worse now for some hope of getting better in the future, but that hope is tied to a belief in Lastings Milledge‘s improvement that I don’t have.

Good trade for Mike Rizzo and the Nationals. For once, they finally acquired an outfielder with some usefulness.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

44 Responses to “The Morgan-Milledge Deal”

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  1. matthew says:

    Matt Kemp actually has the best UZR among Center Fielders this year and you didnt even mention him at all.

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    • Eric/OR says:

      Maybe because there’s a couple-thousand innings in his empirical record suggesting that he’s not as good as those other guys in the OF?

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    • phildo says:

      “There’s a lot of noise in small sample UZR numbers”

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      • CH says:

        Regardless of UZR numbers, if you actually watch Matt Kemp play, he looks much better in CF this year and I think he’ll continue to be a very good CF moving forward. No, he’s not the best CF in baseball, but he does at least belong in the conversation.

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  2. dtoddwin says:

    Dave, I know you have nothing personal against the Bucs’ front office, but it is a bit perplexing to see that you don’t get what the Pirates are trying to do. In trading McLouth, who is an average major league outfielder, they got a young guy already in their starting rotation and two of the Braves top ten prospects.

    In trading Morgan and Burnett, they traded two somewhat useful, limited upside guys. Morgan is also 29 (in two days) with a skill set based on speed that probably won’t age that well. In return that received an underperforming (headcase?) player, that was deemed to have tremendous upside not long ago and a power pitcher with good peripherals.

    The Pirates have Moss, Delwyn Young, Steve Pearce already sharing time, but none of those players have the potential of Milledge.

    This organization was bereft of talent when NH and FC took over almost two years ago. Between the draft and trading four outfielders (Bay, Nady, McLouth and Morgan) they have stockpiled some good young assets as well as guys who are contributing to the team today.

    They aren’t going to compete for a title in the next year or two, so Morgan and Burnett are easily replaced. Getting potential upside seems like a great trade. If Milledge doesn’t work out I don’t think Morgan and Burnett are going to be sorely missed.

    I don’t know why you are scratching your head.

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    • Teej says:

      Morgan is also 29 (in two days) with a skill set based on speed that probably won’t age that well.

      Speedy contact hitters tend to age pretty well, actually. It’s the guys like Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard who fall of cliffs.

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      • joser says:

        Yeah, the “fast guys don’t age well” thing is one of those seemingly intuitively obvious truths that just turns out to false in many cases — and yet we keep repeating it even as we watch guys like Rickey Henderson or Ichiro go on succeeding year after year while the slow, strong guys stumble out of baseball..

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      • Bill says:

        But you could also look at guys like Jim Thome and Frank Thomas who did age very well. It’s not as much about having a specific talent as just having a lot of it.

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      • joser says:

        Nevertheless, the presumption is not “strong guys weaken” with age, it’s “fast guys slow down.” And while both of those are true to some extent, the bias tends to reinforce the latter, not the former, despite evidence to the contrary.

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  3. Hector F says:

    From Pravda:

    “The Nationals see Morgan as a center fielder/leadoff hitter. Washington also likes his hockey attitude. He once played with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League during the 1999-2000 season.”

    Ah. So the Nats have tipped their hand. Will Orel Hershiser be next? Or Ovechkin?

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    • Max says:

      I’ll tell you what. He runs the bases like a hockey player. I mean that in both a good and a bad way.

      Aggressive, great. Oversliding on a steal, not so great.

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      • joser says:

        When he starts hip-checking the second baseman into the boards and pulling jerseys up over guys’ heads in fights, then we have a problem.

        But I would love to see the dancing groundskeepers replaced by a Zamboni.

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  4. Max says:

    I wonder what the park adjustment is for UZR in PNC’s Left Field. It’s gotta be one of the toughest in baseball, no?

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    • joser says:

      I don’t know about that — Jason Bay went from an average of -6 UZR/150 over his time there to -16.65 in Fenway. Though this (combined with Manny’s seeming defensive rejuvenation in Dodger Stadium and the miracle transformation of Raul Ibanez from Safeco to Citizen’s Bank Park) suggests an alternative explanation to me: that UZR still doesn’t capture park effects adequately, at least when it comes to translating numbers when a player changes stadiums.

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  5. mymrbig says:

    Dave, as I read through the portion of you post on Morgan, literally my first thought was “Great job Dave, after skimming through some of the comments over at MLBTR I’m thrilled to read something intelligent.” I was going to post those exact words!

    But I was pretty disappointed with your glossing over of Milledge and a few other items.

    First, while Milledge has undoubtedly been a tremendous disappointment, he just turned 24 in April. Morgan is almost 5 years older, as he turns 29 on Thursday. Basically, Morgan is at his peak right now and realistically can’t be expected to improve at all (though maybe he holds steady for a few years). Milledge is just before his peak years and even though he hasn’t been all that good so far, he still has some upside beyond his performance to date.

    Second, while I know this is a stat-friendly site, I don’t think it is fair to completely ignore the scouting angle (and you usually do not). Milledge was the Mets’ top prospect in 2005 and 2006. He was the #9 overall prospect according to BA in 2006. In 2007 Jim Callis said he would have been in the 15-30 range if he hadn’t lost his prospect eligibility. Scouts apparently liked Milledge’s above-average speed, good arm, and lightning-fast bat. While he certainly hasn’t attained his potential, I think it is unfair to completely discount his performance to date if scouts still really like him. And let’s be honest, he had a .325 wOBA last year as a 23-year-old and his K% was below 20%. That is pretty impressive. For comparison sake, Chase Utley has a .331 wOBA as a 24-year-old, Hunter Pence didn’t make his major-league debut until he was 24, Carlos Lee had a .332 wOBA as a 23-year-old, Adam Jones had a .313 wOBA as a 23/24-year-old, Curtis Granderson had a .333 wOBA as a 25-year-old, etc. I am NOT saying that Milledge is going to continue to develop like these guys did and turn out to be a valuable bat for the Pirates. I AM saying that I think you did your analysis a disservice by failing to at least note that Milledge had a relatively successful season with the bat as a 23-year-old and that past scouting reports have been very glowing, at least suggesting that further improvement is possible.

    I actually like this trade a lot for both teams. As noted, the Nats have a terrible OF defense and a lot of young pitchers. Getting a guy like Morgan to chase down some flyballs can make a pretty big difference for young pitchers (fewer pitches, better stats, increased confidence, etc.). Morgan’s defense and decent OBP should keep him an above-average player for the next couple years while he’s cheap. The Pirates get some upside and have bought-low on a former top prospect (again!). This really seems to be a M.O. for Huntington, as he has bought low on other former top prospects like Andy LaRoche, Craig Hansen, and Jose Tabata. Maybe none of these guys achieve their potential, but for a system that was almost completely lacking in high-ceiling, star-potential players two years ago, I like the risk of taking these kind of chances.

    And even if Tabata and/or Milledge don’t develop for the Pirates, they do have Nyjer Morgan Jr. in the minors (Gorky Hernandez).

    One final note (sorry for being long-winded). I think it is pretty funny that Mets fans, Yankees fans, and scouting experts used to engage in some great Milledge/Tabata debates on who would be the better player in the long run, yet now are both with the Pirates. Maybe the Pirates screwed up in acquiring both, but if they end up being pretty decent players than the Pirates can at least strut a little when they play in New York.

    Not a Pirates fan or Nats fan, but I do really like the move for both teams, but for completely different reasons.

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    • mymrbig says:

      Ok, I am an idiot (at least partially). The great Mets/Yankees prospect debate (at least the most recent one) was between Fernando Martinez and Tabata, not Milledge and Tabata. Why can’t we edit our comments to save ourselves from our own foolishness?!?

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    • mymrbig says:

      Oh yeah, and both Dave’s analysis and my dissertation ignored the Hanrahan/Burnett part of the deal. I think this works in favor of the Pirates on almost every level (age, upside, roster management, present performance (ignoring luck)). I don’t think the margin is necessarily enough to give it to either side, but the Pirates got the more valuable reliever and the younger outfielder with more upside. I think I like the deal slightly more overall for the Pirates, but I’m also OK with it from the Nats perspective. Their OF defense was just that bad and I think most sources under-appreciate the kind of difference a defender like Morgan can make to a team.

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  6. David R says:

    The Pirates won this deal if you ask me. Not even close. If Capps loses his role in 2009, admittedly not likely, it will be to Hanrahan. And, Milledge brings a lot of potential.

    For 2009, CHONE, Marcel, Oliver, Zips and Bill James projected Milledge at 13-18 HR, 15-22 SB, .271-.281 AVG, .332-.353 wOBA. Milledge is age 24.

    For 2009, Morgan was projected at 0-5 HR, 11-36 SB, .262-.292 AVG, .295-.331 wOBA. Morgan is age 29.

    If the ages were reversed, you might make the case the Morgan has the most potential. Unless you are throwing away all of the history that led to these projections, you can not make the case the Morgan has the most potential now, even if Morgan is a good CF, while Milledge is a poor to adequate RF or LF.

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  7. acerimusdux says:

    “If his BABIP falls down to .320 or so, about what ZIPS projects for him going forward, than he’s more of a .310 wOBA guy. ”

    I suspect .320 is giving him too little credit. Just looking at his fangraphs page, you have data there from 5 minor league season/levels and 3 big league seasons, and the lowest BABIP is this season’s .330.

    In addition, he’s one of the fastest players in baseball, and a guy whose approach to hitting is definitely geared towards achieving a high BABIP. So he’s the type of guy you’d pretty much expect to be in the top 10%, likely a full 2 standard deviations or more from the mean.

    So, I guess my question is, does anyone know what the “true talent” standard deviation for BABIP is estimated at for hitters? I know for pitchers it’s around 10-11 points (.010-.011), but I think hitters are supposed to have much more impact on it.

    I would guess a true talent BABIP here of around .335. He has a career speed score of 7.1, and a career line drive rate of .19.9%. Figure .320 just for the line drives, and another 10-20 points for the speed.

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  8. Ryan S says:

    I like both the Hinske deal as well as the Morgan one. I’ve lambasted the Pirates plenty in the last decade, with the ’07 draft being the boiling point. But in all honesty any trade that not only continues to stockpile talent as well as having some possible upside is a good one for a team that is still a few years away. I love Hanrahan, I think he’s better than Capps is right now, and if he settles in nicely, Capps might be the next to go.

    I still wish the Bucos would snag Brandon Wood from the Angels for one of their million OF prospects. If Wilson and Sanchez were to leave today I’m not sure there’s any MI’s in our farm system that could even hit MLB pitching.

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  9. Evan says:

    If the Nats want guys like Morgan, why did they trade Langerhans yesterday?

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    • ColonelTom says:

      That was my first thought – why deal Langerhans for a quad-A player in Mike Morse, and then turn around and deal for a similar player to Langerhans in Nyjer Morgan, while giving up a guy (Milledge) who led the team in HR, RBI, and SB just a year ago at age 23? The Nats dealt Milledge at the absolute nadir of his value. Why not wait and see if Milledge rebounds, and play Langerhans in the meantime?

      Morgan’s a useful player and a great patch for the Nats’ OF defense in the short term, but he’s 29 and probably at his peak right now. They just dealt one of their highest-ceiling hitters for a clone of a guy they basically gave away a day before. Insanity.

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  10. WallyBall says:

    I am a Nats fan (yes, I admit it) and I like this trade for them for the reasons that Dave expressed, but Amen to Evan’s comment. I don’t get why they let Langerhans stay in the minors while their pitching was being betrayed daily by their defense.

    As for Milledge, I didn’t mind his attitude, he seems like a nice kid actually, despite the rep. But he is one of those guys with a carefree attitude that has a tendency to alienate a fan base because it sometimes looks like he isn’t trying hard. I am not saying that he doesn’t try hard, I think he does, but it doesn’t always appear that way. But he is a horrible defensive player – terrible instincts out there and no chance to play CF like the Nats tried. You have to really hope that his power improves to warrant giving up a corner OF spot for him. He definitely has a quick bat, so maybe he can increase his power numbers, but I think that he is starting to run out of time to demonstrate it. My guess is that he doesn’t make it. Hanrahan, though, has excellent stuff (regularly hits 95/96 on the TV gun with a pretty good slider) but really had a hard time with his confidence. He got hit incredibly hard this year, but I think that he was worth a shot. I think that it is a decent trade for both sides.

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  11. Longgandhi says:

    Langerhans, while terrific in the corner outfield spots, was not that great in center, which was the Nats most glaring weakness. Of all the toolsy guys they’ve acquired over the last 6 or 7 years, none of them were really very good center fielders with the possible exception of Endy Chavez and/or Nook Logan. They needed a dependable gloveman with good range in center and they apparently got one in Morgan. I agree that Morgan has little or no upside from what we are seeing this year, but that’s ok as long as they don’t completely dismantle the offense… which is apparently what Rizzo has on his to-do list, so there’s still time for head-scratching.

    Milledge’s biggest problem wasn’t attitude but competence. He never understood situational hitting, in fact never seemed to adjust to how pitchers were approaching him so almost all of his hits were on mistakes, got poor reads in the outfield and never took to coaching. Whether that was by choice or aptitude is subject to debate, but the results speak for themselves. If the Pirates can unlock that physical potential, more power to them. But the Nats tried just about everything to get that done and all they ended up with was a toolsy fourth (or fifth) outfielder.

    As for the reliever exchange, I think the Pirates probably got the better end of this deal. Manny Acta is incompetent when it comes to managing a bullpen and did much to destroy Hanrahan’s confidence this year. Given a safer role in Pittsburgh, it would not be surprising for him to develop into a very good set-up man. Burnett seems to be a future LOOGY.

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    • Jim M. says:

      You hit Milledge’s biggest problem (in my opinion) on the head. I remember watching a game earlier this year where Milledge misplayed a ball in center. I turned to my friend and said he just didn’t have the instincts to handle center. I followed by complaining about his inability to work a count in the batter’s box and how it made no sense for him to be in the leadoff spot. He responded by saying that he wasn’t sure if Milledge was smart enough to count to four, much less draw the occasional walk. Upon thinking about it for a second, I decided that I pretty much agreed with that assessment.

      Milledge is the definition of a player with million dollar talent and a ten cent head. Whether it’s that he chooses not to apply himself or that he simply lacks the mental capacity to try and make adjustments (at the plate, in the field, on the basepaths, in the clubhouse) I can’t rightly say. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that after having watched him pretty closely for over a year (yes… I’ll proudly stand and say that I’m one of those few Nats fans going back to their days in Montreal), I believe that he counters his physical skills by being one of the stupidest players in the league.

      He has no approach at the plate. He has no clue of how to get a solid read off the bat in the outfield. His instincts on the basepaths have never impressed me much either (speed alone doesn’t make for a good baserunner). I’m not bitter that he didn’t live up to the hype in Washington. It’s just a fact. The guy just doesn’t seem to have the mental capacity to use his physical tools (or at least isn’t showing that he does).

      That said, I’m not enamored with the deal. First off, Evan hit the nail on the head with the Langerhans comment. It made no sense to deal him for Morse only to pretty much acquire his clone a day later. While the Nats lacked a true CF, Willie Harris had been showing a lot more promise in that department of late. While his UZR on the year is still negative, I feel fairly confident that the converted 2b would only get better with his instincts in CF given a chance to play more regularly. The corner outfield remains overloaded either way, and there are so many other areas of need that could have been addressed here rather than trading for yet another outfielder.

      Burnett’s far from a stud, but I think that the secondary part of the deal is being overblown a bit. With the results that Hanrahan has had this season, moving him will almost seem like addition by subtraction to the (albeit small) fan base. I’ll admit that most of my experience regarding Hanny has been actually watching him and simply assuming (based on having watched him perform) that his numbers were pretty awful in every area. I study some players numbers closer than others, and having to watch Hanny pitch left me with no desire to find some kind of redeeming quality about him. He has great velocity on his fastball, but little to no movement. He seems to have little command of his slider, as about 60% of the time he either hangs it or bruises the catcher (who often can’t) as he tries to keep it in front of him.

      I do find it amazing that Hanrahan’s actually maintained a much better walk rate than I thought he had, but maybe it’s just that he’s followed almost half of those fourteen walks this season up with six wild pitches in 32 innings. His confidence was clearly shot in Washington at this point, and maybe the change of scenery will do him some good. I’d ask all the Pirates fans that are rejoicing about Hanny being a steal watch him pitch three or four times and then try saying that.

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  12. ColonelTom says:

    “But the Nats tried just about everything to get that done and all they ended up with was a toolsy fourth (or fifth) outfielder.”

    They buried Milledge – one of their best players last year (faint praise, I know) – five games into the season, sending him down abruptly in a way that couldn’t be anything but humiliating for him. That’s not trying to accomplish anything meaningful; it’s the organizational equivalent of a wild mood swing.

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    • Longgandhi says:

      Actually, it was 7 games into this season but they had a whole season from him last year. As an example of the Nats efforts to make him a better player, this spring they brought in Marquis Grissom and Cesar Cedeno to try to teach him how to play center but all he did was blow them off.

      And all this business about him being one of the team’s best players last season ignores the fact that he was the only one who was relatively healthy.

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      • JH says:

        health is a skill

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      • Longgandhi says:

        Health may be a skill but even the most “skillful” player can’t prevent all injuries. Sometimes s*** happens. And sometimes staying healthy is just luck. And given Milledge’s health this year, it’s clear last year in that regard was more luck than skill.

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  13. sekrah says:

    Pirates won this deal easily on both levels. Milledge > Morgan.. Hanrahan > Burnett.

    Morgan is ridiculously easy to be replaced. Seriously, the guy don’t even have gap power, it’s pathetic. The Nationals improves substaintially with him getting PT, but they still have Dunn and Dukes out there who are dreadful.

    The Nationals pick up a couple wins from Morgan’s defense at the expense of tremendous potential 5-tool OF. There are plenty of immature kids who come up too soon that end up getting their game right, Gary Sheffield being just one example. Everybody wrote him off with the Brewers. The Nats also traded away the better reliever by a long shot.

    I don’t see anyway in hell someone can come to the conclusion that Washington won this deal. This just shows that amateurs are still in charge in DC despite Bowman’s ouster. It took Pittsburgh a while to get things right (I think Huntington has done a brilliant job so far and has the Pirates on the right path), it’s going to take Washington a while as well, because they definently don’t have competence in the front-office yet. Rizzo got fleeced by Huntington.

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    • Longgandhi says:

      Hey, you sound like Jim Bowden. ;-)

      Sheffield had already won a batting title, finished 3rd in the MVP voting and was a two time All-Star by the time he was Milledge’s age. Not really comparable. He’s Franklin Gutierrez but with poor defense.

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  14. big baby says:

    what an awful conclusion. trading a 29 year old 4th outfielder who can’t hit lefties is a bad move when you’re picking up a former top prospect who is only 24?

    what a load of garbage.


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    • NadavT says:

      Before you dismiss Dave’s analysis out of hand, you ought to at least look at the rest of what he’s written about Milledge:

      For all the talk about how he was the Nationals’ “best hitter” last year, he was still just a replacement-level player, no better than freely-available talent. Yes, he’s talented and young, but all assumptions we have about young, talented players developing depend on those players being able to make improvements in their approaches to hitting and fielding. So far, Milledge has proven himself to be uncoachable in both areas. Could he start figuring it out on his own, or could a change of scenery help? Sure, but “he’s young and talented!” isn’t an adequate argument on its own.

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  15. sekrah says:

    Agree big baby. This is AWFUL analysis. Dave’s head had to be in the clouds when he wrote this drivel.

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  16. Brian Cartwright says:

    Whether Milledge turns out or not, Morgan just isn’t that valuable overall. Hehas a good glove and a 4th outfielder’s bat, barely a mlb average outfield at age 29. Very replaceable.

    The Bucs front office likes hard throwers. Yates has been hurt for awhile, and couldn’t find the strike zone when he was in there. With Capps still closing, Hanrahan and Chavez give them two right handed setup guys throwing 95-96.

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  17. Softball Girl says:

    The one thing that isn’t being discussed here is LMillz’s attitude. The flaws were highly publicized in NY (of course) and somewhat apologized for here in DC—publicly. But there were some major issues there that we as fans didn’t fully see. He got busted to AAA for his attitude more than his performance.

    So does Milledge have more upside? Absolutely. But he’s got some major soul-searching to do to reach it.

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    • hleeo3 says:

      As a Nats fan, I like this trade. No wait… I love this trade! Pirates fans will know why Rizzo dumped them both for Morgan and Burnett… trust me. Milledge is projected, at best, a 4th outfielder on a contending team. Milledge does not have the mental aspect of baseball. In 76 ABs in AAA he was batting .256 with .277 OBP and .316 slugging. I know it is a small sample size but thats pretty much how he was playing in spring training. Rizzo is changing the philosophy of the Nationals. He is looking for pitching, defense, and good clubhouse guys. We saw this in the draft and you can see it in this trade. We are going to see alot more of this because the worst team in baseball is a product of Jim Bowden. Rizzo is trying to reverse what he did.
      The Nats were trying to push Milledge to work harder and he responds negatively. In AAA, they switched him back to LF and took him out of the lead-off position btw. He broke his finger attempting a bunt… it happens I know but not usually to a professional major league hitter.

      Hanrahan sucks. period. I can’t believe we were able to get rid of him. He is broken… good kid tho. Older than Burnett, so I think Burnett will have more upside especially since was he a 1st rounder. In his last game, Hanrahan gave up 3 hits, a walk, and 4 earned runs in 0.1 innings againist the Orioles. I know it is one game but lets just say that is the summary of Hanrahan. A strikeout pitcher who will probably give up a run for every strikeout.

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  18. MCR says:

    Relievers are incredibly fungible commodities. The Mariners picked up David Aardsma for nothing, and he’s been fine. Okajima came from Japan for cheap to the Sox, and they got Saito for comparative peanuts as well. Billy Beane’s been doing the closer shuffle for a decade now, and at one point Mariano Rivera was just a failing starter. Obviously, not every failed starter turns into Rivera, but relief pitching is still easy to acquire for nothing.

    Two and a half wins a year for the league minimum is exceptional value. Even though he’s not young, he’s not about to fall off a cliff. Historically, speedy, low-power players age pretty well, and it’s rare to see one just completely disappear without some sort of injury. Milledge is still a good prospect, but his CF play isn’t good. In 153 games (nearly 1350 innings) in CF, he’s put up a -16.1 UZR/150. It’s not a big enough sample size, but it’s highly, highly unlikely that he’s any better than -10. ZiPS projects him for a .331 wOBA going forward- not bad, certainly, but not enough to close a twenty-to-thirty run gap on Morgan, who’s the better player right now.

    Either way, this deal isn’t a slam dunk for either side the way some people are making it out to be.

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  19. Sam says:

    Haters will hate, Cameron. Consider yourself on Blastings’ list.

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  20. Tom Au says:

    The Pirates are playing for “top or bottom” again. Trading a very good player for a potentially outstanding player, but also trading a good citizen for a bad citizen. “Bird in hand” doesn’t really say it: The German version is “sparrow in hand versus pigeon on the roof”

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  21. Jonathan Laden says:

    Hmmm… sounds a bit like other players I’ve heard of. Any chance Millings has ADHD?

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