As the 2007 season approached its conclusion, it frustrated me to no end to watch Nyjer Morgan repeatedly start over Nate McLouth and Steve Pearce. Morgan does not have a future as a starter in Major League Baseball, and it was ridiculous to put him in the lineup when players with much more potential wasted time on the bench. This season it is happening again.
Since his August 19 recall, Morgan has started 14 of 18 games. Pearce has made three starts with the Pirates during that period, and also spent some of that time in Triple-A. Letís very briefly recap their performance during their professional careers. In Pearceís minor league career, he has hit .290/.361/.519, good for a .880 OPS. Morgan has hit .293/.358/.365 for a .723 OPS. Pearce has generally been a little old for his level; Morgan has generally been very old for his. Pearce is 25, just approaching his peak years. Morgan is 28, right smack in the middle of his prime, and approaching the typical decline phase of a playerís career. Jason Michaels, a 32-year-old journeyman, has also started eight of those 18 games.
Obviously, this season is lost and the Pirates should be focusing on the future. It doesnít matter if they lose every game for the rest of the year. Winning has to be secondary to learning about their young players with potential. By running out McLouth (26), Brandon Moss (25 on September 16) and Pearce (25) on a daily basis, the Pirates could have an outfield of three guys in their mid-twenties. Each has shown some promise for the future, with McLouth obviously being the most established Major Leaguer of the three. The last time this was the Piratesí starting outfield was August 16. That is absurd.
I just want to point out that I have serious doubts about Pearceís future in the league. He has to improve his plate discipline and hitting approach to have any shot of long-term success. But he has a much better chance of being an impact player than Nyjer, and Pearce is never going to figure things out by rotting away on the bench.
By the way, Morgan will turn 30 in less than two years. What use will he be to the team when his speed starts to diminish?
EDIT: Charlie at Bucs Dugout is having the same concerns. Check out his thoughts on the matter.