Monday, February 14, 2011

Bryce Harper to Play Center Field; Nyjer Shakes in Boots

The Nats first drafted Bryce Harper in 2010 to be a distant solution to a current problem in right field. But a few days ago, posted a story that Bryce Harper might end up moving to center field in the minors this year. This doesn't seem unreasonable, as they've recently signed this guy Jayson Werth, who is a right fielder, to a long-term deal. Maybe you've heard of him?

But the one person that gets lost in the shuffle is Nyjer Morgan, the Nationals current center fielder. After exploding in 2009 to outstanding numbers, he limped out of 2010 with lackluster numbers. So should Nyjer be worried that Nats have moved their best prospect to his position all of a sudden? Absolutely he should, though maybe not this season.

These two players have extremely different playing styles. Morgan is small and fast. (So small in fact that he regularly looks like he's swimming in his jersey, but I digress.) He is supposed to be the walk a lot, steal a lot player. The problem there? He doesn't walk enough and he was a less effective base stealer in 2010. Harper, on the other hand, is big and hits for power. His job will be less to be the perfect defenseman than to hit the ball as hard as he can.

It is still extremely unlikely that Harper would make the bigs before the Super Two deadline in 2012, similar to Stephen Strasburg in 2010. That's at the absolute earliest. It's entirely possible it doesn't happen until September callups 2012. So Nyjer might be safe for a little while, though the quality of at-bats that Roger Bernadina and Michael Morse put together while platooning in left field could light a fire under Morgan to have a more successful 2011.

For more on several of these Nats in Spring Training, check out Capitol Baseball all week. You might just see one or two of these guys make a post to come...


  1. For what it's worth, I think Harper's deal buys out some of his arbitration years so Super-Two (if it even exists after the next round of collective bargaining) doesn't matter with Harper. I don't think a 9/1/11 call-up is out of the question.

  2. Don't forget Corey Brown - while I'm rooting for Nyjer to become 2009 Nyjer again, I'm also rooting for Brown to push him hard in camp this year.

  3. John C., I am with you too on Corey Brown. Great attitude, hard worker, has skills, and hope he makes an impact as you can figure it all out when you have a bunch of great players which has never been a problem the Nats have had before.

    I could see Bryce in LF, Corey in CF, and Werth in RF with Eury Perez in the wings and then maybe Michael Morse is ready to play just 1st base.

    Again, a great problem to have. I guess Roger Bernadina and Nyjer Morgan can also figure it out.

  4. Nyjer has a lot more to worry about than Bryce. If he doesn't extract his cranium from his rectum, he won't be the starting CF after this year regardless.

  5. this is more about harpers future than nyger or brown...i think the nats want him to learn CF because it is easier to move from cf to a corner spot than to move down the road after 2 or 3 years in the corner. it will make him that much better in the future, nyger morgan will be done by june of this year

  6. Harper in center field vastly increases his "value" in the future. And there's no reason he can't play there. He's fast and has a great arm. He could be the logical successor to Carlos Beltran in terms of an all-around centerfielders in this league.

    Nyjer's future with this team was always in doubt from the moment his "troubles" started last summer. You can't hit for an OPS+ of 73 AND be a head case. I thought we should have done more to replace him this past off season but i suspect Rizzo didn't want to admit defeat on that trade so soon.