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.
Astros’ star second baseman José Altuve underwent surgery on his right knee, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports. Neither the specifics of the surgery nor a concrete timetable for the infielder’s recovery have been officially confirmed by the club yet.
Altuve, 28, suffered the injury in July after he jammed his knee on a close play at third base. Even after he completed an initial 3.5-week stint on the 10-day disabled list, chronic knee pain continued to dog him in the months that followed. As manager A.J. Hinch told reporters on Thursday, he would have held the second baseman out of the lineup under any other circumstances, but instead chose to commend Altuve for showing up and pushing through the pain as the Astros tried for a repeat championship title this postseason.
Per McTaggart, the Astros expect Altuve to make a full recovery by spring. The perennial All-Star infielder finished his 2018 run with a .316/.386/.451 batting line, 13 home runs, and an .837 OPS through 599 plate appearances. He fared slightly worse during Houston’s ALDS and ALCS campaigns, slashing .265/.324/.412 with three extra-base hits over 37 PA. The Astros were eliminated by the Red Sox during Thursday’s 4-1 loss in ALCS Game 5.