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Monday, March 28, 2011

Brewers Trade For Rabble-Rousing Center Fielder Nyjer Morgan

Doug Melvin surprised Brewer Nation this weekend by acquiring Nyjer Morgan from the Nationals a mere 48 hours after stating he had no interest in the troublemaking center fielder. A career .253 hitter in parts of four seasons with Pittsburgh and Washington, he lost his starting job last year and in the process let his struggles get to his head, to say the least.

Morgan created some trouble for himself last year when he let his frustrations get the best of him. Major League Baseball suspended him for seven games last August for throwing a ball at a fan in Philadelphia (he later appealed the decision and won). He drew the ire of the Cardinals when he plowed through their catcher, Bryan Anderson, after Anderson had already stepped out of the baseline. Morgan scored the thirteenth run in a 14-5 blowout on the play.

Shortly thereafter he separated the shoulder of Florida's catcher, Brett Hayes, in another plate collision. The Marlins deemed the move unnecessary and retaliated the following night. Pitcher Chris Volstad beaned Morgan in his first at bat and threw behind him in his second. Morgan apparently had had enough, and then this happened. (If you don't know what that link leads to, you should probably check it out.) He was suspended for eight games and fined $15,000 for the incident.

Morgan commented last week that he didn't feel he fit in with the Nationals organization anymore. The Nationals apparently felt the same way, trading him for Cutter Dykstra, an infielder many scouts don't think will do much at the Major League level.

Doug Melvin made some calls and says that Morgan is not a bad guy, but plays with passion and sometimes lets his emotions get the best of him. Brewers catcher, Wil Nieves, a former teammate, also vouched for Morgan, saying he "plays hard, loves baseball, and respects his teammates."

Melvin and Ron Roenicke met with Carlos Gomez Sunday morning and assured him that he's still the team's starting center fielder. One thing is for sure, though. If Gomez's success at the plate this spring doesn't translate into regular season success, Morgan will be ready to step up and take his job.

Morgan has one thing going for him already as he joins the Brewers: the Cardinals don't like him. He's a quality defender in center field, quick on the base paths, and hits for contact. He has batted leadoff in the past, and might even allow Rickie Weeks to slide into the two spot. Ultimately, he'll be judged by his production. If he performs well for the Brewers, fans will forget some of the quirks of his personality. If he doesn't, Melvin won't hear the end of it.

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