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A Quick Thought On The Brewers' Decision To Acquire Nyjer Morgan

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A few minutes ago, Rubie and I had this conversation via text:

Rubie: I FanShotted the Morgan trade, btw.
Me: Wait, what?

I'm guessing most you are having roughly the same reaction this morning, spitting out your Sunday brunch all over a computer screen while learning the facts of the latest Doug Melvin "no we're not...except that we are." trade. 

If you missed the details, here they are: The Brewers have traded Cutter Dykstra, who we rated 16th in our Community Prospect Rankings, to the Nationals for Nyjer Morgan. And I have no idea why.

Morgan is a career .283/.344/.360 career hitter, but took a significant step back last year in his age 29 season, posting a .253/.319/.314 line. Yes, that's a .314 slugging percentage to round out a .633 OPS. Among players who posted at least 500 plate appearances in 2010, that was the fifth worst OPS in baseball:

Player Team OPS
Cesar Izturis BAL .545
Jose Lopez SEA .609
Alcides Escobar MIL .614
Ryan Theriot CHC-LAD .633
Nyjer Morgan WAS .633

Morgan was also worse, OPS-wise, than Carlos Gomez (.655) and Yuniesky Betancourt (.692), and only slightly better than Jonathan Lucroy (.628).

So, you can make a case that Morgan immediately becomes the worst hitter on a Brewer 25 man roster that already includes some pretty poor hitters. Furthermore, though, he's not an upgrade defensively. Morgan was a +4.2 player defensively in 2010 according to UZR/150, while Gomez was worth 8.0.

The WAR numbers put a nice bow on this argument: Despite getting more playing time, FanGraphs has Morgan at 0.9 WAR in 2010, while Gomez was worth 1.1.

It's possible that Morgan is just coming off a down year, and could come back to provide some value.  At the moment, though, it looks like the Brewers just acquired an older, less talented version of Carlos Gomez. I have no idea why someone would give something of value for that.

If nothing else, Corey Patterson was probably available for less.