Nationals have “reached a near-final decision” to bench Nyjer Morgan for Rick Ankiel


Last week there was speculation about the Nationals benching Nyjer Morgan in favor of Rick Ankiel and now Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that they’ve “reached a near-final decision” to make Ankiel the starting center fielder.

Morgan has certainly earned the demotion by hitting like a fifth outfielder, running the bases recklessly, and behaving like a jackass, but the odds of Ankiel actually being an upgrade are pretty slim.

Ankiel grades out considerably worse than Morgan defensively and has hit just .232 with a ghastly .298 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage in 196 games over then past two years. Morgan has hit .279 with a .343 OBP during that time, although certainly Ankiel brings far more power to the table.

According to Kilgore the Nationals haven’t decided yet what to do with Morgan, who would wind up back in the minors (or perhaps on the trading block) if they don’t keep him as a bench player.

Indians release Mike Napoli

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The Cleveland Indians have released Mike Napoli.

This is not terribly surprising as he was seen as a depth move to begin with. Injury insurance for Yonder Alonso at first base and Edwin Encarnacion at DH, neither of whom are injured at the moment. Napoli was on a minor league contract and the Indians made it clear that, if he can’t find a major league job elsewhere, he’s welcome to come back and cool his heels in Columbus in the event he’s needed later.

Which may be what happens if he wants to keep playing because, after a season in which he hit .193/.285/.428, and a spring in which he hit .218/.310/.431, there aren’t likely to be a ton of takers.