Pirates Notebook: The classic debate

I mentioned some thoughts on the Nyjer Morgan for Lastings Milledge trade rumors Friday night. Since that point I’ve been thinking about the non-baseball aspect of the deal.

There are two opinions on the trade rumors from what I can tell. One side wants Milledge because he’s a talented player that could be an upside over Morgan if he puts it all together. The other side doesn’t want Milledge because he is considered a headcase, part of the reason why he was sent down to AAA this season from Washington.

Thus, the classic debate: would you rather have talent, or would you rather have a good guy?

I don’t mean for that to come across as a slight against Nyjer Morgan. I’m a big fan of Morgan (which mostly has come from his play this year). He’s one of the best defenders in the league. He has speed on the base paths. He hits for a decent average, although not great. He’s also a funny guy, seems to be well liked, and plays the game with an attitude you can admire.

Attitude-wise, Morgan is everything you’d want from a player on your favorite team.

Talent-wise, Morgan doesn’t exactly provide the best value for a team like the Pirates, who don’t have the most feared offense in the league.

Lastings Milledge is young, is a five tool talent, and has shown flashes of being a complete major league player. The downside is that he’s irresponsible (might be due to age, or he might be another Milton Bradley) and a bit of a headcase. You don’t really want the attitude, but any team would love the potential.

So which side wins? Talent or attitude?

In my opinion the answer is simple: attitude doesn’t win ballgames, but talent does.

So far Morgan has a career .349 on-base percentage and a .374 slugging percentage in 606 plate appearances in the majors. Milledge has a career .326 OBP and a career .400 SLG in 1004 PA in the majors.

In my opinion, those numbers for Morgan are close to his ceiling, while the numbers for Milledge are close to the floor.

Nyjer Morgan has value, but Milledge trumps that value. Milledge also has speed on the bases, has more offensive potential, and isn’t a big drop in defense (plus he may cause JR to avoid that ridiculous “Two Center Fielder” formation).

If Nyjer Morgan and Lastings Milledge were similar players, then attitude would be the deciding factor. I’m not sure I could justify attitude making up for the difference between Morgan’s value, and the potential value of Milledge.

The MVP Tracker

The MVP Tracker is updated through yesterday’s win. Here are today’s big impacts:

1. Freddy Sanchez: -.161 WPA
2. Eric Hinske: -.157
3. Andrew McCutchen: -.126
4. Charlie Morton: -.080
5. Delwyn Young: -.065

Prospect Watch

The Prospect Tracker is updated with tonight’s games.

-Pedro Alvarez went 0 for 1 with a walk, before exiting with a leg injury. He is day-to-day.

-Jose Tabata went 1 for 3 with a walk, raising his season average to .274 and his OBP to .377. He’s hitting .310/.451 since returning from injury.

-Gorkys Hernandez went 2 for 3. Gorkys has a five game hitting streak, and has a hit in 10 of the 12 games since Tabata has returned.

-Chase D’Arnaud went 1 for 3 with two walks. D’Arnaud has struck out at least once in all four A+ games, but has also reached base safely in all four games, giving him an early .368 OBP.

-Robbie Grossman and Tony Sanchez didn’t play in West Virginia’s game.

Other Stuff

-Pat at WHYGAVS has a good write up on Ian Snell’s minor league success. Snell struck out 17 batters in 7 innings in his first AAA start since being demoted.

-Jim at North Side Notch has declared Eric Hinske the LVP. I wouldn’t call myself a Brandon Moss fan, despite yesterday’s post saying he could be the next Nate McLouth, but I hate seeing Hinske in the lineup with Moss sitting, especially when Hinske goes 0 for 4.

-Evan at Raise the Jolly Roger has some good pics of Zack Greinke. I have to be honest. I wasn’t too horribly upset when the Pirates lost today, and that’s mostly because I have Greinke on almost every one of my fantasy teams. Now that violates some rule about how you shouldn’t root for your fantasy team over your real life team, but I don’t care. At the start of the season I pegged Zack Greinke as a breakout fantasy ace candidate, replacing last year’s breakout candidate Tim Lincecum. I also pegged Chad Billingsley and Matt Cain. Those are my boys, and when they win against the Pirates, I can’t help but feel like I won as well.

-According to Dejan Kovacevic at the PPG, Neal Huntington says the Pirates are “very close” to signing Evan Chambers and Nathan Baker. I’m guessing the announcement will come tomorrow sometime between 10 and 3, only because I’ll be golfing at that time. However, when the announcement is made, and when I hear about it, I’ll have the Draft Pick Signing Tracker updated. Neal also said the remaining guys from the top 10 (Zack Dodson, Zach Von Rosenberg, Trent Stevenson, Billy Cain, and Joseph Schoenfield) will be “tough” signs. I don’t interpret that to be “impossible” signs, and fully expected this draft to be loaded with guys who were tough to sign. I just hope we get ZVR and Cain.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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