Nationals' interim GM Mike Rizzo seems to be a little less risk averse than his predecessor, the all-knowing Jim Bowden. While Bowden failed to capitalize on trade markets in years past for such players as Alfonso Soriano, Chad Cordero, Dimitri Young, and Ronnie Belliard, Rizzo went out today and assembled what I think may turn out to be a decent trade for the Nats, if not for the balance of this year, certainly for start of the 2010 season.
The Nationals traded OF Lastings Milledge, who was demoted to AAA-Syracuse early on in the season, and reliever Joel Hanrahan to the Pittsburgh Pirates for CF Nyjer Morgan and left handed reliever Sean Burnett, a former first round draft pick.
This trade makes sense for the Nats on a number of fronts. First, while Willie Harris has done an admirable job as a stop-gap in CF, they are in clear need of an established everyday center fielder who can makeup for the lack of ground that corner outfielders like Dunn and Willingham bring to the field. At 29, Morgan is still relatively early on in his career, and can get on base and run extremely well. Having Morgan as the everyday leadoff hitter may help Chrstian Guzman increase his disappointing RBI total.
Burnett is shaping up to be a decent reliever. And lets face it, the Nats need some improvement in the bullpen, no matter who it is or where he comes from. I expect a lot of experimentation to take place in the rest of 2009 as the Nats try to figure out how best to solve their bullpen woes. Hopefully Hanrahan, who has been downright miserable in a variety of situations this year, will find better luck in Pittsburgh.
From the Nats perspective, one starts to wonder what future moves might be coming down the pike as we approach the trading deadline at the end of July. Will Nick Johnson be moved to a contender? What does the acquisition of Morgan mean for Willie Harris, who has arguably been one of the Nats' most solid players of late? We'll have to see how things shape out, but hopefully Rizzo can start to assemble some additional pieces with an eye towards next year.
If you are a Pirates fan, you have to start to wonder about the team's recent personnel moves. After dumping all-start OF Nate McLouth in a trade to the Braves, the Pirates were busy sellers today. Apart from the Morgan/Burnett trade, the Pirates also traded utility-man Eric Hinske to the Yankees for two minor leaguers...for a team thats only 6 games out in the NL central, seems like they're trying to swindle their chances for contention in 09.