Revisiting The Burnett-Morgan-Hanrahan-Milledge Trade

On June 30th, 2009, the Pirates traded reliever Sean Burnett and outfielder Nyjer Morgan to the Nationals for reliever Joel Hanrahan and outfielder Lastings Milledge.  With exactly one year in the books, which side is ahead?

Hanrahan has tossed 63 innings for the Pirates with a 3.00 ERA, 11.9 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, and 0.43 HR/9.  He's totaled 1.0 WAR for the Pirates.  His fastball velocity has increased since the trade, to the point where he's averaging 95.4 mph this year.  Hanrahan will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, and he's under team control through 2013.  He's part of a strong late-game relief trio in Pittsburgh, along with Evan Meek and Octavio Dotel.

Milledge is hitting .281/.339/.384 in 490 plate appearances for the Pirates.  He's played 928 innings in left field, but has moved to right field since Jose Tabata's promotion.  He's totaled 1.2 WAR for the Pirates.  Like Hanrahan, Milledge is arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2011 and under control through 2013.

For the Nationals, lefty reliever Sean Burnett has a 2.96 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, and 0.70 HR/9 in 51.6 innings.  He's totaled 0.4 WAR for the Nats.  That value came entirely from 2010, as he's increased his K/9 to 8.1.  He's earning $775K this year after losing an arbitration hearing in February.  Burnett is under team control through 2012.

Morgan is hitting .291/.345/.368 in 530 plate appearances with 41 stolen bases in 59 attempts for the Nationals since the trade.  His 2.7 WAR comes entirely from 2009, as he's actually had negative value in 2010.  Morgan's '09 season ended in late August with a broken wrist.  It's been a rough 2010 season offensively, and Morgan leads the league with 11 times caught stealing.  Morgan has tallied 1,000 innings in center field in his time with Washington.  After the season it appears that he'll miss the Super Two cutoff by a few days, meaning he will not be arbitration-eligible until after the 2011 season.  Morgan is under team control through 2014.

I'd rather have Hanrahan than Burnett at this point, and the Pirates' reliever is under team control for an extra season.  Morgan's last two months have been discouraging, but he might be better than Milledge defensively and is under control for an extra year.  While the Nationals are ahead 0.9 in WAR, this challenge trade remains something of a toss-up a year later.


Leave a Reply

53 Comments on "Revisiting The Burnett-Morgan-Hanrahan-Milledge Trade"


Todd Smith
5 years 28 days ago

Milledge just keeps getting better and better after a slow start this year. At this point, he’s outplaying McCutchen.

RBishop1973
5 years 28 days ago

There’s no reasonable, or even unreasonable, metric by which you could justify that statement.

McCutchen is sporting a WAR of 2.5 right now, while Milledge has a -.7

McCutchen has an OPS+ of 128; Milledge has an OPS+ of 97.

McCutchen has more hits, 2B, 3B, HR, BB and SB than Milledge, has a higher BA, OBP and SLG than Milledge, and has a better K/AB and K/BB ratio than Milledge.

What you’ve written is the very definition of incorrect.

Todd Smith
5 years 28 days ago

I said AT THIS POINT, Milledge is outplaying McCutchen. I said Milledge is getting better and better after a slow start.

Milledge is hitting .328/.400/.507 in the past month. McCutchen is hitting .267/.368/.433 in the past month.

Not really a difficult concept.

5 years 28 days ago

This trade is a win for the Pirates, especially with the ages of all involved thrown in.

$4555515
5 years 28 days ago

actually its a win for the nats as they picked up a true leadoff hitter which they lacked at the time of the trade

as well as a very good reliever

i would like to add since morgan came to the nats last year, the offense has been clicking so much better than when milledge was here and btw i honestly dont miss hanrahahn blowing games for us

the WAR doesnt tell the whole story as anyone who has watched the nats consistly over the past 2 years can eassily tell the diffrence between the nats with hanrahan milledge vs nats with morgan burnett

5 years 28 days ago

Brian Sabean and Omar Minaya agree with you! The smarter GMs, not so much…

5 years 28 days ago

Brian Sabean and Omar Minaya agree with you! The smarter GMs, not so much…

5 years 28 days ago

Nyjer Morgan is a true leadoff hitter…who has a .251 average this year, never walks, and leads the league in caught stealing. Yeah, what a stud in the lineup. I don’t miss him oversliding second base at all.

5 years 28 days ago

Nyjer Morgan is a true leadoff hitter…who has a .251 average this year, never walks, and leads the league in caught stealing. Yeah, what a stud in the lineup. I don’t miss him oversliding second base at all.

5 years 28 days ago

At first last year this seemed like a steal for the nationals for how well Nyjer played and burnett was steady. Burnett has gotten alittle better this year but nyjer has degressed quite a bit so at the moment i would say the trade was a stalemate until more games have played. When we traded those Joel and Lastings to the Pirates, they were hanging on to a thread so maybe a change of scenery helped spark something so they are making this trade alot more interesting now with the better play.

$4555515
5 years 28 days ago

wow what a inteligent post^^^ i dont see you throwing any stats out there to justify hanrahan over burnett and last i checked theres nothing wrong with using era as a stat for a reliever

elmedius
5 years 28 days ago

i wouldnt say its a bad stat, just not the best indicator of performance overall given the low number of innings many releivers compile. one bad outing can destroy an era and a whole seasons worth of solid work if thats all youre looking at.

elmedius
5 years 28 days ago

i wouldnt say its a bad stat, just not the best indicator of performance overall given the low number of innings many releivers compile. one bad outing can destroy an era and a whole seasons worth of solid work if thats all youre looking at.

5 years 28 days ago

ERA is a useful stat for starters, but it’s a terrible stat for a reliever because they don’t pitch many innings. It’s much better to look at things like WHIP which aren’t as easily distorted by sample size. Burnett has a 1.36 WHIP, Hanrahan has a 1.13. I’ll take the guy that doesn’t allow as many baserunners.

5 years 28 days ago

how did you end up here ben dick? it sounds like youve never read a post here or anywhere more intelligent than espn

Yankees420
5 years 27 days ago

The guy obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but resorting to child like insults really doesn’t help credit your side either.

5 years 28 days ago

how did you end up here ben dick? it sounds like youve never read a post here or anywhere more intelligent than espn

$4555515
5 years 28 days ago

isnt FIP kind of a joke stat? if you go by that statistic cliff lee is a better pitcher than jiminez so far this season

so forgive me if i dont take that statistic seriously

you still fail to mention how era is a flawed stat

5 years 28 days ago

Cliff Lee is 0.6 better than Jimenez in FIP, and I don’t see why you think that makes it flawed! You may feel Jimenez is better and you may be right, but certainly it wouldnt be by much (for the record, I think Lee is better). And, uh, in most intelligent baseball circles, you are better off not mentioning that you think ERA works and FIP is a joke stat!

ERA is flawed because it doesn’t take into account chance- balls finding holes etc, something which will regress to career means over time. You can search online for more on the topic. The only way you could do worse is if you used wins as a stat!

jdub220
5 years 28 days ago

No, FIP isn’t a joke.
And Lee HAS been a better pitcher than Jimenez this year. Jimenez has just been ridiculously lucky.
Lee has walked only 5 all year. ALL YEAR.
And ERA is a flawed stat FOR RELIEVERS because it gets skewed by small sample sizes.
Which, if you had read, Nate Rose had already explained.

jdub220
5 years 28 days ago

No, FIP isn’t a joke.
And Lee HAS been a better pitcher than Jimenez this year. Jimenez has just been ridiculously lucky.
Lee has walked only 5 all year. ALL YEAR.
And ERA is a flawed stat FOR RELIEVERS because it gets skewed by small sample sizes.
Which, if you had read, Nate Rose had already explained.

Yankees420
5 years 27 days ago

I don’t forgive you for not taking FIP seriously, so forgive me for not forgiving you.

$4555515
5 years 28 days ago

isnt FIP kind of a joke stat? if you go by that statistic cliff lee is a better pitcher than jiminez so far this season

so forgive me if i dont take that statistic seriously

you still fail to mention how era is a flawed stat

sopranosfan
5 years 28 days ago

Hey Stat people, Milledge is awful. He has 1 HR, is a DISASTER in the outfield, and has made more baserunning mistakes than most little leaguers. That doesn’t show up in your formulas.

5 years 28 days ago

Yes, it does. 1 HR is (DEAR JEBUS!) a stat. His -10 UZR/150 shows that he’s bad in the outfield. The only thing that doesn’t show up is the baserunning mistakes. He’s bad, but he’s not as bad as Nyjer Morgan.

sopranosfan
5 years 28 days ago

you’ve obviously never watched a Pirates game. Also, HR is a stat. I’ll give you that. UZR doesn’t reflect his routes, him missing the cutoff man, throwing to the wrong bases, and not knowing how many outs their are.

5 years 28 days ago

I’m a Pirates fan. I’ve watched almost every game this year. I would rather have Milledge.

UZR reflects all those things because you lose value when you don’t turn a ball you should turn into an out into an out. All the things you listed fail to do that, thus, to some extent, they’re reflected in UZR.

sopranosfan
5 years 28 days ago

He’s given more value than he deserves because he is played way over in the gaps. He gets to balls most don’t (which have a higher value) because of where he is shifted.

5 years 28 days ago

Except I’m not using his single-season UZR because that’s basically a useless stat because there’s just not enough of a sample size. I’m using his career UZR. I’m well aware that he’s a terrible fielder, you don’t have to tell me. I’d still rather have him than Nyjer Morgan.

Also, why are you even citing HR as a stat when the player you’re comparing him to is Nyjer Morgan, who homers less than Juan Pierre? Milledge may only have one homer on the year, but Morgan only has four in his four season career! He averages one homer a year! We’ve already got his power production from Milledge! Milledge tied Morgan’s career mark in just the 58 games he played for us last year, and would have surpassed it if one homer didn’t get washed away by a rainout!

sopranosfan
5 years 28 days ago

Let me ask you something, what type of player is Morgan? What type of player is Milledge? I know Morgan has been thrown out a lot this year but he puts pressure on the defense and helps an offense hit when he’s on base. (More FBs to hit). Milledge is a bad defender, bad baserunner, bad power hitter, and bad base stealer. What it comes down to is that you have a bad corner OF’r. This position has to bring either power or speed. It has to. He brings neither of that.

5 years 28 days ago

Oh, so now you’re changing your premise on me. What was “Morgan is better than Milledge and here’s why” now becomes “you can’t really compare the two, they’re different types of players.”No.You could say everything you said about Milledge about Morgan as well.Morgan takes horrible routes to balls, and can only make up for it because of his speed. If Milledge was as fast as he is, his UZR would look good too.Morgan is a bad baserunner/base stealer – he led the league in caught stealing last year and he’s looking like he’ll do it again this year. That’s not being aggressive, it’s being bone-headed. He’s fast enough that he should rarely be caught. He needs to pick his spots. He’s got better straight-line speed than Andrew McCutchen, yet McCutchen is way better at stealing. Why do you think that is? Because McCutchen thinks about whether it’s actually a good idea to steal right now before he takes off and overslides second for an easy out.Morgan is a terrible power hitter. He doesn’t have home run power, and for all his speed he doesn’t even have DOUBLES power. He’s got a career .372 slugging. If you’re going to talk about power hitting and compare it to Nyjer Morgan, you’re going to have to find somebody REEEEAAALLLY bad.Given all this, I’d rather have Milledge, because he at least has some kind of skill when it comes to hitting baseballs. Furthermore, Morgan’s got another 2 years or so at best. Milledge is 25 years old. There’s a lot of room for improvement from Milledge, and only room for decline from Morgan.

The only things Morgan is better at are defense and being entertaining on Rocco DeMaro’s postgame show.

sopranosfan
5 years 28 days ago

Perfect. You can have Milledge because I sure don’t want him. Good luck.

5 years 27 days ago

Wow. I was just scrolling through all this, and you guys got into this big, intelligent argument.

I’m going to go back to watching ben make an idiot of himself.

sopranosfan
5 years 28 days ago

you’ve obviously never watched a Pirates game. Also, HR is a stat. I’ll give you that. UZR doesn’t reflect his routes, him missing the cutoff man, throwing to the wrong bases, and not knowing how many outs their are.

5 years 28 days ago

Yes, it does. 1 HR is (DEAR JEBUS!) a stat. His -10 UZR/150 shows that he’s bad in the outfield. The only thing that doesn’t show up is the baserunning mistakes. He’s bad, but he’s not as bad as Nyjer Morgan.

5 years 28 days ago

Milledge isnt good, but he’s been playing very well of late aided by a high BABIP, so we’ll have to see if he comes down to earth. His wOBA is 30 points higher than Morgan though, this year, and talking about baserunning, he may be slightly worse than Morgan but not by much. Nyjer has been caught stealing 11 times this season already, and it seems to me a lot of his goodwill is based on his phenomenal 2009 Nats career.

Certainly, as a Pirate fan, I remember many many mistakes on the basepaths by Morgan!

5 years 28 days ago

+1

Milledge and Morgan are both terrible on the basepaths. That said, I’d rather have Milledge running the bases. He only makes a horrible mistake every week or so. With Morgan it seemed like it was every day.

5 years 28 days ago

+1

Milledge and Morgan are both terrible on the basepaths. That said, I’d rather have Milledge running the bases. He only makes a horrible mistake every week or so. With Morgan it seemed like it was every day.

5 years 28 days ago

Milledge isnt good, but he’s been playing very well of late aided by a high BABIP, so we’ll have to see if he comes down to earth. His wOBA is 30 points higher than Morgan though, this year, and talking about baserunning, he may be slightly worse than Morgan but not by much. Nyjer has been caught stealing 11 times this season already, and it seems to me a lot of his goodwill is based on his phenomenal 2009 Nats career.

Certainly, as a Pirate fan, I remember many many mistakes on the basepaths by Morgan!

sopranosfan
5 years 28 days ago

Hey Stat people, Milledge is awful. He has 1 HR, is a DISASTER in the outfield, and has made more baserunning mistakes than most little leaguers. That doesn’t show up in your formulas.

sopranosfan
5 years 28 days ago

Morgan is fast. His mistakes are aggressive. Milledge is slow. His mistakes are ignorant. And once a week? try at least, once a series.

5 years 28 days ago

even if I accept what seems like a random premise, mistakes are mistakes- they cost your team runs. And I don’t see why continually oversliding bases and getting tagged out is a plus? Especially when you have Zimmerman, Dunn, Willingham hitting behind you!

Does anyone remember Morgan for no reason taking on Berkman’s arm after he received a cutoff throw in 2009, and trying to make it home- worst out on the basepaths I’ve ever seen. Milledge is no great shakes, mind you, but he has 1 HR more than Nyjer and better hitting stats across the board…

5 years 28 days ago

Agressive or ignorant, mistakes are mistakes. If a guy is getting caught stealing at nearly half the rate as he actually successfully steals, he probably shouldn’t run unless he’s given the sign, because he obviously doesn’t know how to pick his spot.

sopranosfan
5 years 28 days ago

Aggressive mistakes pay off occasionally because of natural gifts (speed). Ignorant mistakes don’t pay off.

5 years 28 days ago

There’s such a thing as being stupidly aggressive, and Nyjer Morgan has mastered that art.

rolltide2010
5 years 28 days ago

Both are #4 OF right now. Nats wanted Morgan to a) get rid of Milledge, and b) get someone that can play defense. Morgan is much better defensively than Milledge.

That being said, it is definitely an even trade – Bucs fans prefer Milledge and Nats fans prefer Morgan. Regardless, neither is a long-term solution at their respective positions.

Ian_Smell
5 years 28 days ago

Milledge has no speed, no power, no arm. I have no idea why people thought he had the potential to be a five tool player.

Retamundus
5 years 27 days ago

SOPRANOSFAN WINS….Milledge has become a good person who is still a DUMB baseball player! He is the ONLY PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL to finish the season with more 6-5s than 6-3s. As far as outplaying McCutchen, defense, power, and baserunning have been all McC. even during a slump. McCutchen makes great plays routinely while Milledge has a difficult time being in the same area code as routine flyballs. I have watched all but a couple of Pirate games on the package and I WILL say that Milledge has hustled on EVERY play this season. I credit McCutchen’s influence. REPEAT: SOPRANOSFAN WINS!

5 years 28 days ago

To use your vernacular, LOL at you for using era as a stat for a reliever.

Yankees420
5 years 28 days ago

Tim is smoking a stat called FIP and xFIP, Hanrahan is sporting a 2.88 and 2.99 in each respective category while Burnett has a 3.06 and a 3.71, leading most people to believe that from this point forward, Hanrahan is probably going to outpitch Burnett as his 4.5 HR/FB% begins to normalize.

Yankees420
5 years 28 days ago

Tim is smoking a stat called FIP and xFIP, Hanrahan is sporting a 2.88 and 2.99 in each respective category while Burnett has a 3.06 and a 3.71, leading most people to believe that from this point forward, Hanrahan is probably going to outpitch Burnett as his 4.5 HR/FB% begins to normalize.

5 years 28 days ago

So that’s why Hanrahan has 1 Blown save, right? Man, that’s a lot of blown leads. Sure he gave up 6 runs in an inning not so long ago (!!!!. Oh my, I may have just discovered where his ERA came from!), but relievers have bad days. Going through all of his appearances right now, checking to make sure that the one blown save is the only blown lead he has.. .EDIT: Yep, that’s the only blown lead. Seems like an unearned run on a defensive gaff MIGHT have led to one other, but it’s not recorded. He’s given up some runs in some tied games, as well as some garbage time runs (the 6 run outing was the 20-0 loss to the Brewers when the game was already quite out of reach). Other than that, come crunch time, he’s been great.Guess your ex doesn’t put out much.

5 years 27 days ago

Excuse me for reading too fast. However, who gives a rat’s ass what he’s done with the Nationals? We’re talking about the post trade, not pre-trade. You, sir, would do well to construct a real argument, and not make claims such as ERA being a reliable stat for relievers, or saying FIP is a joke stat, and not talk down like that to an intellectual superior.