Just a few more words about the trade

I feel like I didn’t quite cover all the bases yesterday on this trade yesterday, so I’ll put together one more post here about the things I feel like I missed.

As sad as a lot of people are to see Morgan go, I always liked Sean Burnett. I saw his first win back in 2004 as I guess because of that, I always had a special place for him as a fan. He went through a lot of stuff with his arm injury and got really frustrated with the Pirates when they kept sending him back to Triple-A despite a couple of great spring training performances, but he never let that get in the way of things and he worked hard to get back to the point he was at this year. Certainly, a lot of his good ERA was lucky (his BABIP was only .218 this year, so despite a big raise in LD% he was having success on the mound) and we won’t really miss him in the long-term, but I’m still a little sad to see him go as a fan.

That leads us to Hanrahan, who I haven’t really talked a lot about. My gut reaction when I heard he was included was that I know he’s been pretty terrible for the Nats this year, but that doesn’t even start to tell the story. Look at these numbers:

  • 2008: 9.92 K/9, 4.48 BB/9, 0.96 HR/9
  • 2009: 9.64 K/9, 3.86 BB/9, 0.83 HR/9

His strikeouts have dropped a bit, but his walks and homers have both improved this year, and yet somehow his ERA has jumped to 7.71. His Fielding Independent stats at THT are about this same from last year to this year, and his BABIP is a ridiculous .451. So really, the Nationals defense is bad and he’s getting unlucky, and that’s the only thing different between last year, when he was a promising young closer in the making, and this year when he’s been terrible enough to be a toss-in on this sort of trade. He’s a lot better than some Pirate fans think, and I’m not even sure there’s anything to “fix” with him. A new uniform and a better defense behind him might be enough to get him back on track.

In terms of defense, since we’re kind of on the subject, I know I’ve assumed that Milledge will be plugged in to left field when he’s ready, but I wonder if right would be a better fit for him. He’s supposed to have a cannon for an arm, and at least with the team configured as it is now, Brandon Moss seems to make a lot more sense in left. He’s not as fast as Morgan, but he’s been quietly very good defensively this year. It might not hurt Milledge to put him in right field and keep some of the pressure off of him at least during his first few months as a Pirate.

Finally, in light of Lasting Milledge’s dad’s defense of his son, I wanted to post a reminder that it’s not really fair for us to judge whether these players are “good guys” or “asshats.” I need this reminder as much as anyone, given some of the assumptions I’ve made about some players (OK — Ian Snell) in the past. He’s surely did some stupid things in the past, but it’s incredibly unfair to say that he’ll never learn from those mistakes. I’m not saying that he necessarily will, mind you, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be judged for the rest of my life on the stupid things I did when I was in high school or 21 or 22. For better or worse, he’s a Pirate now.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.