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Are Nats better in center without Morgan?

Mar 28, 2011, 12:11 AM EDT

File photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Sadly, this is likely to be the lasting image of Nyjer Morgan in a Nationals uniform.

VIERA, Fla. — The competition in center field this spring, the Nationals insisted all along, was an open one. Actually, first they said it was Nyjer Morgan's job to lose, then they said it was a three-way battle between Morgan, Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina.

So let's take a look at everyone's Grapefruit League stats through the weekend, throwing Jerry Hairston into the mix as well…

MORGAN: .241 AVG, .328 OBP, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9 RUNS, 6 SB, 3 CS
ANKIEL: .218 AVG, .271 OBP, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 8 RUNS, 2 SB, 0 CS
BERNADINA: .255 AVG, .321 OBP, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 6 RUNS, 3 SB, 1 CS
HAIRSTON: .174 AVG, .235 OBP, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 RUNS, 0 SB, 0 CS

If this really was an open competition, and the player who best performed all spring was going to get the job, who would you choose? It's certainly nowhere close to as cut-and-dried as Jim Riggleman and Mike Rizzo tried to make it sound this morning in explaining why Morgan was traded to the Brewers for minor-league infielder Cutter Dykstra and $50,000 cash.

"Nyjer had a nice spring training," Rizzo said. "After the first week [when he went 1-for-16] he played really well and did everything he had to do. It's just that I feel it was Ankiel winning the job, not NyjerRead more ยป

  1. Anonymous8 - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    Mark Zuckerman said…the Nationals prepare to open the season with no traditional leadoff man and a shaky platoon at one of the game's most important positions, you can't help but wonder something: Why didn't they just take care of this during the offseason?Mark, didn't some of us say just that as the "Rizzo fail" in that he should have taken care of this in the offseason just like the E. Dukes situation before the 2010 season.

  2. raymitten - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:29 AM

    I think they did take care of it in the off season– they signed Ankiel. If you watched Morgan and Ankiel play daily in spring training, it was clear who the best player was. Morgan might have a higher average because he got a few bloop hits, but he retained the surliness of last year and was making terrible plays in the field and on the basepaths. I believe that Ankiel was a target of Rizzo's in in 2009 offseason but Ankiel chose the Royals because the Nats wanted him in right and Ankiel wanted to play center. This year, the spot opened up.

  3. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:39 AM

    I believe that Ankiel was a target of Rizzo's in in 2009 offseason but Ankiel chose the Royals because the Nats wanted him in right and Ankiel wanted to play center.He may be the better centefielder but if he can't hit better than Willie Harris then both he and Hairston are nothing more than bench players starting in a position where one of the franchise's top athlete's should be safely ensconced. Bernadina has looked like that off and on … and then the braintrust evaluated him as left fielder? @RayMitten do you really think Ankiel is better than Bernadina in centerfield? At the plate?Nats fans are now left to hope that Corey Brown and Bryce Harper tear up the minors in pursuit of a promotion to the major leagues as the Nats best internal solutions to this problem.

  4. Donald - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:39 AM

    I think a lot of this has to do with Harper and Morse. Harper seems destined to be in the big leagues soon, and Morse is showing that he has the potential to be an every day player. If Harper (or Werth) moves to center, which seems a possibility, then Morgan is the odd man out. I don't think they want to push Morse to first so what are the other options. Even if Morgan started the year in center, would they have a place for him next year?

  5. Anonymous8 - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    Ray, what ST games have you been watching? .218 AVG, and .271 OBP stinks. The power numbers are nice, but it is Ankiel's career numbers which are awful that I will address below.ANKIEL: .218 AVG, .271 OBP, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 8 RUNS, 2 SB, 0 CSMORGAN: .241 AVG, .328 OBP, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9 RUNS, 6 SB, 3 CSBERNADINA: .255 AVG, .321 OBP, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 6 RUNS, 3 SB, 1 CSLet's be real. Typical Nyjer, took himself off the basepaths 3 times. Next you have to factor when Nyjer was intentionally HBP by the Marlins which gave a healthy boost to his OBP. I can't remember if it happened more than once during ST.Nyjer is gone and that is a good thing. Bernadina should probably be the starter over Ankiel if we believe in ST stats or past season stats. I don't have a big problem with Ankiel since Rizzo hasn't provided anyone much better. Still don't know why anyone thinks he will be any better than his career averages which frankly stink. A .312 career OBP and .248 ave and that horrible .232 BA against LH pitching causes a virtual platoon against LH starters. It was almost like last years reverse with Maxwell who couldn't hit RH pitchers.

  6. raymitten - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    Ankiel doesn't have big averages, but he got several hist in the clutch and is more productive than Morgan. And he never once this spring cost the Nats a run in the field — his outfield play was stellar. Can't say the same about Morgan.

  7. Feel Wood - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    "Why didn't they just take care of this during the offseason?"Aside from cutting Morgan, what exactly could they have done during the offseason to take care of this, Mark? Were there any centerfielders and/or prototypical leadoff hitters they could have gone after via free agency or trade? Carl Crawford, perhaps? B.J. Upton? Rumors had the Nats being in on both of those guys as well as others, but it's a tough market out there. They probably did all they could. And they did trade for Corey Brown, who's unfortunately hurt right now, as well as picking up Ankiel and Hairston. They certainly weren't standing pat taking their chances with Nyjer, by any means.And this probably makes it even more likely that your Nats centerfielder of the future is a guy named Bryce Harper. Keep an eye on where they have him playing down in the minors this year.

  8. Anonymous8 - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:03 AM

    Ray, I totally agree with NO Morgan so using your logic, why Ankiel over the younger Bernadina?

  9. SonnyG10 - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    I don't think there were any good options in the off season or Rizzo would have taken it. I think he signed the best available to him and hoped Nyjer would come around. That didn't happen. I'm sure Rizzo is searching for a leadoff hitter and a permanent center fielder, either within the Nats organization or outside it. I just don't think there was anyone available over the off season.

  10. Mark'd - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    Ray, Ankiels career BA w/ runners in scoring position is .239 vs. Bernadina at .235.

  11. Hal - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:12 AM

    I think this is in keeping with Rizzo's mantra of defense, defense, defense. Ankiel has a cannon for an arm, versus Morgan's pop gun.

  12. Sam - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:13 AM

    Guys, Ryan Zimmerman hit .250 with a .314 OBP. Obviously, he's going to have a terrible season this year because we are judging based on Spring Training stats…oh wait, Spring Training stats mean NOTHING. Nothing at all. Zilch. And this isn't hyperbole. They mean NOTHING.Hell, Alberto Gonzalez hit .377/.421/.434…I think he's going to be an All-Star this year.Even if the competition in Spring Training was at 100% and mattered, judging based on 50 or so at-bats is absolutely absurd. Let's ignore the fact that Ankiel put up a 113 wRC+ vs. RHP last year and a 132 wRC+ in 2008 vs. RHP. Let's point instead to 50 meaningless AB to suggest that Ankiel is not worthy of a starting position.

  13. Another_Sam - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:15 AM

    Short answer: no, Nats are not better off in CF without NM, IMHO.And Anon8, I laughed at your theory about NM's OBP being inflated by his being plunked. That's a tautology, friend. Think about it.

  14. Theophilus - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:17 AM

    Ankiel seems to be better in CF than Bernadina. The Nats have never been eager to see Bernadina start in CF. His throwing is sometimes erratic. I haven't seen enough games but it is possible he covers the angles and the gaps just fine but has trouble coming in and going out. The coming in and going out are the most difficult aspects of playing CF and distinguish the truly good ones from the merely competent. And, unless Ankiel does .250, 20 HR and 60 RBI, he isn't going to be the LH CFer in August or September. (Personally, I'm unhappy Jim Edmonds hung up his glove. Another 40 year old LH hitter who would have done us a lot of good. Should've traded for him last year.)

  15. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:19 AM

    Sorry, but if we are going on just pure athletic ability (as Bernadina recently showcased in left field recently) Bernadina is far-and-away the better center fielder over Ankiel. And a far better place holder as he appears to be an asset that will be a part of the Nats future whereas Ankiel does not.

  16. Theophilus - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    Who said anything about athletic ability being the sine qua non of playing centerfield? If you're looking for athletic ability go see if Elijah Dukes is available on work release. Michael Jordan would have played ten years for the White Sox. Roberto Clemente was the best right fielder in the history of baseball but Bill Virdon was the centerfielder. Sheesh!

  17. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:35 AM

    With Morgan finally gone, who will be the new whipping boy for the pessimistic Nats fans who thrived on how bad he was comment after comment?He is gone. Time to move on and look forward to Thursday :)

  18. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:36 AM

    Another 40 year old LH hitter who would have done us a lot of good. Should've traded for him last year.His knees couldn't hold up because he continued to play with them like he was still 20. It wasn't working over an entire season. He was too often called upon to play in the field because he was that good. He wasn't a crappy athlete like Stairs who no one asks to play the field … if you have an Edmonds you are going to get him into 100+ games or more … and the knees couldn't handle the pounding. But yeah, if you are going to bring in a 40+ veteran you bring in Edmonds NOT Stairs.

  19. N. Cognito - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    There were no really good leadoff centerfielders available as free agents. Some want to point to David DeJesus and say the Nats should have gotten him, but he's starting to age and was moved to left field by the Royals. The "vacancy" in centerfield and the leadpff position was not going to be filled this season – just wasn't gonna happen. It will be addressed as the Nats move forward.

  20. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    With Morgan finally gone, who will be the new whipping boy for the pessimistic Nats fans who thrived on how bad he was comment after comment?Personally, I was never anti-Morgan … and I am often called out as negative? The only thing I ever said was that I thought him more a left fielder because of his weak arm. I think he could have improved his game and become an asset even if it was as a utility outfielder. But he apparently poisoned the well with Riggleman, Rizzo and others in the organization. I still like his approach to the game … try to win no matter what, no matter what inning it is, no matter what the score. Try to win. I really, really appreciated that.

  21. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:55 AM

    The Nationals are turning into a very white baseball team. We've got some latin players, but this is the chocolate city. Obviously the best man should get the job regardless of race or national origin, but that doesn't really seem to be happening.

  22. Golfersal - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:07 AM

    I really feel the key to all of this is Roger Bernadina. He seems better than Ankiel, the consensus on this board sounds that way and we haven't heard what is going to happen to Roger. Just ship him out to Syracuse?I really feel that Adam LaRoche problems will be more serious than first thought and that Morse may have to move to first opening up another outfield spot.But I am not sold on Ankiel and will bet that he isn't the solution come May.

  23. Constant Reader - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:15 AM

    One point in the discussion I would like to take on is the concept of the traditional leadoff hitter. I think Rickey Henderson is really retired for good and that type of leadoff hitter doesn't appear to be the norm these days. Of the top 20 players in SB last year, only 6 played in the post-season and the world champions Giants were dead last in all of baseball in SBs.Morgan was given the chance to give us an inkling of the 2009 Morgan. If you don't feel very certain that's your Morgan, Desmond at the top with Werth behind him and Ankiel in the 6th slot makes much more sense. If Desmond's stats as a #2 hitter with Zim behind him are any indicator of what to expect with him at leadoff with Wrth behind him, color me not so concerned about the traditional leadoff hitter issue.Seems to me this decision comes down thinking Ankiel in the field and the likelihood of his numbers rebounding are a better bet than one more roll of the dice with Morgan. That's not nearly the same as the way we tried to plug the dam with paper mache after cutting Dukes last year (though in fairness, didn't J. Dye turn down an offer to play for us after Dukes was cut?).I wish Nyjer well except when we play the Brewers. Thursday's on the way.

  24. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:18 AM

    "The Nationals are turning into a very white baseball team. We've got some latin players, but this is the chocolate city."Have you seen the latest census numbers? Not so much chocolate city any more.

  25. Sec 3, My Sofa - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:34 AM

    Hernandez, Desmond, Espinoza, Ramos, Rodriguez, Hairston (if he stays), Gonzalez (if he stays) … that's 5-7 out of 25. I think "very white" is a bit overstated.

  26. Sec 3, My Sofa - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    Forgot Roger Bernadina. That's at 6 to 8. Sorry, Roger.

  27. Whatsanattau - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:53 AM

    Good luck Nyjer. I noticed quite a few media notes citing Morgans improved stats after a slow start, but I believe the same is true of Ankiel. I thought he had started the spring slow too. He has a good arm, good power and hits RHP well enough. Hairston will likely lead off when facing LHP. That needed to be true if Morgan started as well. Morgan can't hit LHP either. And on another topic, I am looking forward to seeing Stairs as pinch hitter. I think fans sometimes under estimate the importance of a legitimate PH.

  28. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:30 AM

    Hernandez, Desmond, Espinoza, Ramos, Rodriguez, HairstonPretty much white bread except for Hernandez Sec 3? Your point?

  29. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:32 AM

    Okay we might give you Ramos but that's only two and only one is a starter.And Ramos is pushing it.

  30. JayB - Mar 28, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    It is amazing Mark now sounds like me back in January….I said then that Morgan should not and will not be on this team….Mark then said Rizzo fully supports him and he will be the CF…Mark now says it was inevitable……I know Mark vacillates back and forth from reporter who writes what Rizzo says and colonist who says what should happen….I really prefer the Columnist Mark….I can read what Rizzo says for public consumption other places.

  31. N. Cognito - Mar 28, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    Anonymous said… "The Nationals are turning into a very white baseball team."What's your point?

  32. Rabbit - Mar 28, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    I know I don't care if Morgan was hitting .800 and would hit .400 during the season. I AM SO HAPPY HE IS GONE!! He, TO ME, was just not a serious baseball player. He seemed to lose focus too often, in the field and on the bases. And, I never had confidence in him at bat. In clutch situations I always expected him to strike out. There, I feel better now!!

  33. Rabbit - Mar 28, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    Annon 11:18 is an idiot.

  34. Sec 3, My Sofa - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    White BREAD?Oh.Nevermind.

  35. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Ah, so colonist is what they call an a**hole in JayB Land?

  36. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    Folks, knock this off. NOW.

  37. natscan reduxit - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    … and on this bright but cold Monday morning, I want to ask – yet again – that all Nats fans take a moment to realise how fortunate you are to have this team. Read it here:http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Amours+fondly+remembered/4512925/story.htmlGo Nats!!

  38. Bowdenball - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I looked at those spring training numbers. I looked at the stats from last season. I looked at the projections for this season. Seems to me that taken together they paint a very clear picture- Roger Bernadina should be starting in CF. What am I missing? What has Riggleman said about Bernadina?

  39. JayB - Mar 28, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Agreed Natscan…..I am so excited about this week and the whole season….the way I see it we have finally turned the corner…this team will never again be the butt of MLB jokes…..Go Nats!

  40. N. Cognito - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    Sadly and disgustingly, the vast majority of people who have been making the Nats the butt of MLB jokes are so-called Nats fans.

  41. Depot Master - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    In reference to the "white baseball team" comment…While you may be correct that DC has a greater Af-Am population than any other "state", unfortunately, baseball has lost its appeal in many cities and the fact is that there are fewer black kids choosing baseball as a sport growing up.If I were you I'd concentrate my efforts, if you would like to see this change, on supporting programs like MLB's RBI program (http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/community/rbi.jsp) if you would like to see this change. Clearly, if MLB sets up a program to address this, it's not a matter of Rizzo's choices, it's a matter of available talent pool.

  42. Frediemac - Mar 28, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    Mark,Who's pitching today? Have they announced it yet?

  43. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    Tom Milone is getting called up from minor-league camp to make a spot start.That's assuming the weather holds up. It's been pouring all morning, and it's supposed to continue throughout the day.

  44. Frediemac - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    Thanks Mark,Hey a rain out will insure the Nationals 1st winning Spring Training. YEAH! ;)

  45. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Not only will the Nationals be a better team on the field in 2011 without Nyjer Morgan but also they will be a better team off the field/in the clubhouse. Nyjer is not a nice guy, actually a horrible excuse for a human being and except for Nats 320 and his African Queen I cannot think of anyone who claimed to have a good relationship with him, he was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde most of the times I interacted with him.Ankiel is the kind of guy you want on your team, someone who does not give up no matter what the odds and he flourished under Rick Eckstein before so why not recreate that magic. Defensively he has a better arm than Morgan or Bernadina so that is a plus and hitting lower in the order he will not hurt us offensively.

  46. Theophilus - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    N-Cog: I think it's a blog phenomenon. I stumbled into a Giants blog the other day and you'dve thunk Andres Torres was Nyjer Morgan's twin brother.

  47. Steve M. - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    To Mark's question "Are Nats better in center without Morgan?" The short answer is YES.This is my opinion that first off he had become a distraction to the team with all the antics. In the Cardinals ST game he got some of his teammates Hit-By-Pitch and that becomes an occupational hazard. His defensive play had become a liability where he had to play shallower due to his weak arm and his routes to balls weren't always crisp.His baserunning was just the amateur hour. Caught 3 times in 6 attempts. Enough said there.His .319 OBP is better then a few on the team so can't bash that except to see that Nyjer took himself off the basepaths too many times once he was on it making his .319 OBP inflated if you will along with as mentioned by someone else all the intentional HBPs inflated his OBP to the point that he wasn't as good as his mediocre stats indicated.Here's the rub with me. Once Nyjer decided not to partake in Winter Ball, Rizzo should have traded him or DFA'd him to avoid more Spring Training drama. Nyjer should never have been part of the Nats camp. In the off-season, the team at that point could have told Bernadina to work on CF and given reps to Desmond and Espinosa at lead-off through-out Spring Training. It really was time lost. If Ankiel was brought in as the heir apparent to Nyjer, I just think the Nats weren't creative enough. As pointed out, Ankiel is a decent role player but not a high quality starter in CF since he just does not match up well in Lefthanded pitcher scenarios. I can tell a lot of people like him, but he still isn't much of an upgrade offensively over Nyjer. He should be a defensive upgrade and certainly an upgraded in power stats.

  48. Big Cat - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    I think Rizzo is a loyal guy and promised Morgan a fair shot in spring. Well Morgan had his chance and he bellied up. The bottom line here is that Ankiel is a professional big league baseball player, who prepares properly, both mentally and physically. The same can be said about Bernie. Morgan is a little punch and judy hitter who has a terrible arm as well as terrible baseball instincts. We are a much better team with him gone. I would be willing to wager a months salary that he does not last the year with the Brewers.

  49. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    I will make this my last comment on Nyjer Morgan, the Nat.To his credit, he reported to camp in late January and worked extensively with Bo Porter on base runnning and CF play. I found it interesting after watching one particular CF session with Corey Brown when he came off the field for a break and told Brown "I have no excuses. I just can't see it." when discussing his ability to read a bal off a bat.Anybody who knows baseball could see that he did not have that innate ability required by a ML center fielder.Rick Ankiel does. And Rick Ankiel has one of the strongest arms in baseball.Rizzo's dedication to providing an improved defense has taken a major step forward.

  50. Steve M. - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    NatsJack, I believe Ankiel is a defensive upgrade over Nyjer but how about Hairston since they may be a LH/RH platoon.So we know the OF is Werth, Ankiel, Morse, Hairston so far and then a pick 'em from Bernadina, Nix and Stairs.

  51. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Bernadina…. Hands down. Did you see his two catches Friday night?

  52. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 28, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    And Hairston is serviceable. Still an upgrade over the new Brewer.

  53. Carl in 309 - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    On the subject of new Brewer Morgan, I think I'm with NatsJack. As an amateur observer, just watching Morgan one night in center and Ankiel the next afternoon this past weekend, one looks comfortable and other doesn't. Morgan has always looked like he was scrambling to get into position . . . And having an accurate cannon of an arm in center addresses a key concern of mine. We don't have a permanent fix in center, but the Nats appear better defensively there then they have been in years.But I have a different question: when trades are executed and cash involved, it always seems to be for a sum like $50K. While that would be real money in my budget, it seems like a paltry sum in the context of MLB. So what's the purpose and utility of that cash consideration? I'm just curious.

  54. Water23 - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    As discussed earlier, there were few available FA players to fill CF. So Rizzo did what he could and brought in a defensive specialist. If Morgan really turned it around he was good otherwise Plan B was available. Now looking forward, what are the Nats options? A few close to the majors players al a Brown. A once in a lifetime prospect who is at least a year away and playing him would require putting him or you $20 Mill a year player in another position? or How about a trade? We have a bunch of decent 3-5 Starters and some decent depth so go after a CF? Lawrie? BJ Upton? Possibly, but why not go after a former Expo? Grady Sizemore is in the final year of his deal with a team option for next year? The Indians are always looking to build and they are a long way off from competing. It might take a Corey Brown, SP and prospect possibly more but it would fit the Nats needs.Granted Sizemore is a gamble but he could be a stud and you have Ankiel etc just in case. Also, when Harper & Morse become the Nats outfield Sizemore's contract/option would done? Then the let him walk and possibly get a pick. This is the kind of money deal big market teams make. You continue to build the franchise name and prestige.Just a thought.

  55. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    "So what's the purpose and utility of that cash consideration?"Probably the cash consideration bridges the gap between trading for one guy or two guys when the player you're trading away is worth more than one guy but less than two guys. One player plus a cash consideration = one and a half players.

  56. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Yes the Nationals are better off without Morgan, but the racial issue is a real one and I think the Nationals handling of Bernadina is more questionable than that of Morgan. Riggleman was reluctant to use Morse full time last year and made Morse prove he deserved a starting role. The handling of Bernadina is not much different, so I don't see the double-standard as a real one, but I think the Nationals invite the question. Unless there is some explanation why Ankiel gets the starting nod over Bernadina, the question is a valid one.

  57. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Looks like Nix may be gone.

  58. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    It might take a Corey Brown, SP and prospect possibly more but it would fit the Nats needs.For Sizemore?Terrible deal. The guy still can't go full speed. Better off convincing Edmonds to come out of retirement.

  59. Steve M. - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    NatsJack, I agree on Bernadina (hope Rizzo does) and still wanted him as the CF until Bryce Harper was ready as the full-time player in NatsTown but there was still off-season moves like when David DeJesus was rumored to be available from the Royals and could have been a good pickup along with AAA Lorenzo Cain from the Brewers who was packaged in the later deal for Greinke.I just can't get 100% comfortable with the idea of Ankiel at this moment. Adding Werth and Ankiel and subtracting Nyjer and Willingham makes this an interesting OF where we need to see how it plays out for real and not on paper. I am most happy that Michael Morse gets his first chance as a starter and encouraged that he worked through his only slump of ST rather quickly which is real progress.

  60. MGG - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    Are the Nationals better without Nyjer? I think the only answer is a giant YES. I hear all the time from professional athletes about "distractions" and what they can do to a locker room and a team. Nyjer for all intensive purposes last year and this year in ST was a gigantic distraction. The fights, the surly attitude, tanturms, etc. I was a fan of his in 09 and last year when I kept making excuses saying he's gonna turn it around get it back together until the end of the season. And then spring training starts and hes back to his old games? No, he had to go and the nats are better for it.

  61. A DC Wonk - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    "So what's the purpose and utility of that cash consideration?"I had the same question."Probably the cash consideration bridges the gap between trading for one guy or two guys when the player you're trading away is worth more than one guy but less than two guys. One player plus a cash consideration = one and a half players."I can get that, but it doesn't seem like $50K is equivalent to half a player.

  62. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    "I can get that, but it doesn't seem like $50K is equivalent to half a player."Doesn't always have to be a half player. Could be 1/3 of a player, 1/10 of a player, whatever. The cash amount isn't constant. It can be adjusted accordingly.And you're the one saying $50K. The actual cash consideration in the Morgan deal has not been revealed, AFAIK.

  63. erocks33 - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    I think that the Nats are hoping that the following two things will happen between OD and July 31:1) Ankiel's defense in CF is top-notch AND that his batting is better-than-average2) Corey Brown takes to AAA and shows off his 5-tool talent.This will then allow the Nats to trade Ankiel for some prospects and call up Brown to man CF for the rest of the season.I really feel that the team that starts in DC this week will be totally different than the team we'll see come August 1. I really think Rizzo has stockpiled this team with a number of veterans that might appeal to other ballculbs come trade deadline.

  64. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    Adding Werth and Ankiel and subtracting Nyjer and Willingham makes this an interesting OF where we need to see how it plays out for real and not on paper.If Ankiel hits sub Mendoza which seems very much in the realm of possibilities and Corey Brown is raking in AAA as he did at the end of last year? And there's Bernadina? What happens?I guess I agree with Mark in that a decision was made (and perhaps an agreement with Ankiel) that he would start somewhere in the outfield. Does Riggleman stick with his veteran? Or does Rizzo make the change?

  65. A DC Wonk - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    "Yes the Nationals are better off without Morgan, but the racial issue is a real one and I think the Nationals handling of Bernadina is more questionable than that of Morgan."Perhaps it's a real one in your mind, but not for the rest of us.For the rest of us: don't feed the trolls!

  66. Water23 - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    erocks33,I am hoping that Corey Brown steps up and solves our CF problems by mid-season. We, then, have a lot of OF options which I would gladly take!

  67. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    I really feel that the team that starts in DC this week will be totally different than the team we'll see come August 1. I really think Rizzo has stockpiled this team with a number of veterans that might appeal to other ballculbs come trade deadline.Sober and well elaborated conjecture. We should see something relevant to that well before August 1st. If Milone pitches lights out against the 1st string Braves (and considering Detwiler's ST) you have to wonder if some of those veterans might be at the top of the current pitching rotation?

  68. N. Cognito - Mar 28, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Anonymous said… "Yes the Nationals are better off without Morgan, but the racial issue is a real one and I think the Nationals handling of Bernadina is more questionable than that of Morgan….Unless there is some explanation why Ankiel gets the starting nod over Bernadina, the question is a valid one."The only reason it's a racial issue is because you're looking for a racial issue.Even if Morgan was the starting centerfielder, the centerfield issue was not going to be solved this year. There were ZERO free agent centerfielders worth picking up and nobody is giving away centerfielders that can also hit leadoff – there just aren't that many good hitting centerfielders in MLB.Have you ever thought that perhaps the Nats don't see Barnadina as a centerfielder? Perhaps Bernadina is uncomfortable playing centerfield and would prefer to not play there (other posters might have more insight into this). If Morse is going to see the majority of the ABs in left, it might just be better, development-wise, for Bernadina to play full time in Syracuse.

  69. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    Morgan's only worth to the team was as a lead-off hiter. When it became obvious his OBP would never be enough for that spot he became expendable. Defensively he became a liability because of his weak, inaccurate arm.Give credit to Rizzo. Most GMs wouldn't admit one of "their" guys wasn't cutting it. If Morgan performed as a lead-off none of the theatrics would have mattered.

  70. Theophilus - Mar 28, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    I knew if Anon started raving about Milone again I was gonna barf. Thank goodness he did it before lunch. Milone is as likely to be of help to the Nats this year as that female Japanese knuckleballer in the California independent league.

  71. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    Milone is as likely to be of help to the Nats this year as that female Japanese knuckleballer in the California independent league.You just may end up looking like a total a??clown bozo for saying as much. And I'll be here to remind you of this one …

  72. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    "Yes the Nationals are better off without Morgan, but the racial issue is a real one and I think the Nationals handling of Bernadina is more questionable than that of Morgan."Perhaps it's a real one in your mind, but not for the rest of us.For the rest of us: don't feed the trolls!Its all conjecture Wonk but I kind of suspect that Bill Ladson thinks along these lines as well. In DC given the current team makeup this will continue to crop up and it already has on the WaPo NJ site. Its certainly seems like it could be a reason to keep Livo and not flip him for a prospect.

  73. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 28, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    Perhaps it's a real one in your mind, but not for the rest of us.For the rest of us: don't feed the trolls!I saw this on an email string someone sent me too and it is utterly worthless racial mongering. When I can make the same complaint with any validity about the starting 5 of the Miami Heat or Washington Wizards for that matter in reverse then we know we are grasping at a story that isn't there.Put together your best roster and however that ends up in race, color, creed, national origin, etc. makes it what it is so long as it is the based on ability which this 25 will be.Hopefully Mark can post a new one so we can turn this page and talk NATS BASEBALL!!!!

  74. Sec 3, My Sofa - Mar 28, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    FWIW, I think it's a perfectly valid question. I have a different answer than the anon earlier who raised it, but that's not the same thing.

  75. Anonymous - Mar 28, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    Why is it always that if a white player plays in front of a black player, its a racial issue. Give me a break.And yes, I said black player and not african american

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 92 64 --
ATLANTA 76 81 16.5
NEW YORK 76 81 16.5
MIAMI 75 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 86 21.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Tuesday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (2) 92 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 68 3.5
y-ST. LOUIS 88 70 5.0
-------------------------
y-PITTSBURGH 86 71 --
SAN FRANCISCO 85 71 0.5
MILWAUKEE 80 77 6.0
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Tuesday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
TUE: OFF
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

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MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
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