This weekend the Nationals go to Pittsbugh to play the Pirates for the first time since the two teams made a deal involving Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett, Joel Hanrahan, and the enigmatic Lastings Milledge on July 1st. At the time, the deal was generally thought to have been a slight win for the Pirates. The Pirates kick started their firesale by getting rid of a 28 year old journeyman and got a former blue chip prospect who could benefit with the new address in return. Well, nearly a month later, it’s painstakingly obvious that the Nationals won this deal in convincing fashion.
After the first month in a Nationals uniform, Nyjer Morgan has managed to hit a red hot .389 to raise his batting average by over thirtypoints all the way up to .310 on the year. Thanks to that, Morgan is now just outside to top ten in the league for batting average. He also managed to steal thirteen bases in seventeen tries, firmly placing him second in the National League in stolen bases. And as good as those numbers are, it’s his play in center field which has been most valuable for Washington. Morgan has entrenched himself as the team’s everyday centerfielder, officially ending a revolving door approach that featured Willie Harris, Elijah Dukes, Justin Maxwell, and the aforementioned Milledge, thanks to blazing speed and range that has made things easier for guys like Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham in the corners. Not bad for a guy who until this year, was a career minor leaguer who might have been a better hockey player.
Morgan wasn’t the only talented player in this deal. Sean Burnett has helped provide a stabilizing presence in the bullpen that this team has desperately needed. Since coming to Washington, Burnett has a microscopic .082 ERA. Sean is now the best left handed relief pitcher the Nationals have and a big part of the reason why the Nationals’ bullpen has been the best in the NL since the All Star Break.
Just to show how well the Nationals made out in this deal, let’s look at how Joel Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge have fared. Hanrahan has been sparsely used by the Pirates since the trade and received his only win of the season…..as a National, in a game in which he didn’t even pitch. Lastings Milledge has yet to play a game in Pittsburgh but has been tearing up the minors and is rumored to be called up this weekend, just in time to face his former team. If anything positive has come from this deal it’s that it was the move that allowed for Garrett Jones and his unbelievable power to be called up. So as you can see, I’m not just being biased when saying that the Nationals managed to fleece the Pirates in what might be the biggest deal in the brief history of the Nationals. Of course, I’d be an idiot if I didn’t mention that while Neal Huntington got screwed in this deal, he’s been simply amazing in his other trade deadline moves, acquiring several great young prospects.