The comments yesterday turned into a little bit of a "We Hate Nyjer Morgan" Fest (to be held under tight security in Rome NY) even though he wasn't directly mentioned in the post. There's a lot of deep-seated ill feelings toward Nyjer and it's not hard to understand why. He's hitting .249 / .313 / .333. His fielding, courtesy of De Civitate, hasn't been up to snuff either. And let's not forget he's been caught stealing 10 of 22 times, leading the league in that category.
Nyjer isn't hitting, running, or fielding well, so it's pretty easy to call for his head, even though most Nats fans were naming their goldfishes "Tony Plush" at the end of last season. I'm thinking that's a bit premature. Morgan can be an asset to this team, if he is used correctly. In an ideal world this would mean Nyjer would be platooned. But can he be?
It wasn't easy to see his issues with lefties in 2007 or 2008, at least at the major league level. Nyjer hit fairly well against them. The problem is he only had 55 plate appearances against them over the course of 2 years. His minor league stats were also not telling. Through most of his minor league career he hit lefties just fine. It was only when he got to AAA did a L/R split begin to emerge and really only that last year was it pronounced. We needed to see more.
Last year he finally got to see a lot of lefties and the results were not pretty. .175 / .283 / .223. It was thought though, that maybe that was the fault of sporadically seeing lefties, that if Morgan could see them as an everyday player that he would gain some ability to hit them. What have we seen this year? .191 / .276 / .279. I guess that's a bit better but not much. Not enough to justify seeing him flailing at lefties the rest of the year.
The obvious solution would be to platoon Morgan. His line versus righties .272 / .328 / .355 isn't great but it's well below a career line of .317 / . 368 / .405 so you would expect a bounce back. Problem is the obvious "solution" may not work. One would think that vs lefties, Morse may start in RF and Bernadina could cover center. Two things though. Bernadina also may have been underperforming in the field and there's no guarantee Roger can hit lefties. The former might just be a temporary thing, but you have to question how well he'd do in CF all the time, considering when given the choice the Sky Cheifs would put Maxwell there and play Bernadina in right. The latter may take even more of a leap of faith. He spent most of his minor league career struggling against southpaws with only 2008 standing out as a year without a pronounced split. Part of his success this year I'm sure comes from only getting up to the plate 17 time versus lefties. By essentially replacing Morgan with Bernadina the Nats might be making a lateral move at best.
Of course that's just a guess and Roger does have one big advantage over Nyjer, he's younger - just about 4 years so. He may still be able to learn to hit lefties, where that has likely passed Morgan by. Do you move on Bernadina now, play him full time while Morgan "platoons" with Morse, something that for all we know does not have a very strong chance of success, or do you stick with Morgan and keep giving Bernadina the best chances to succeed. I would probably do the latter. Morgan's fielding, one would hope, would come around. It's hard to believe he fell off a cliff just this year. And he should hit better versus righties. The baserunning would have to be contained but if the other things come around he should be a worthwhile play and in the meantime the Nats can take the whole year if needed to make a judgement on Roger.