Indians activate Michael Bourn, send down Nyjer Morgan

Michael Bourn

Michael BournThe Indians today activated OF Michael Bourn from the 15-Day DL and optioned OF Nyjer Morgan to AAA Columbus.

The move comes as a bit of a surprise because of Morgan’s success early in the season for the Indians. In nine games, Morgan has a .348 batting average and an OPS of .832. He is third on the team in walks with 7 and tied for the team lead in stolen bases.

In the end, it appears the outfield was just too crowded for the Indians and manager Terry Francona. The Indians elected to keep an eighth reliever instead of sending down C.C. Lee or utility man Elliot Johnson.

Morgan, a lefty, does not play against left-handed pitching where Johnson is a switch hitter.

[Related: On the Indians’ struggles against left-handed pitching]

  • Pat Leonard

    Someone explain this to me because my eyes tell me that we just sent down one of our currently productive hitters in favor of keeping our least productive hitter. And from what I see, Morgan is the better outfielder than Johnson as well. Is it really that important to have a 3rd shortstop on the roster? If Johnson was some sort of amazing player in the field, I could understand, but it seems like he’s below par at every position he plays.

  • mgbode

    something about Elliot Johnson being able to play IF but, to me, that’s what Aviles does. this makes no sense. Nyjer earned the right to stay on the team. Elliot should be in Columbus right now and if Morgan falls off a cliff, then we can reevaluate later.

  • boomhauertjs

    Morgan hitting blindfolded against lefties would be as useful as Johnson against any pitcher.

  • Pat Leonard

    Well said… if Morgan craters later in the season, then maybe by that point Elliot Johnson’s bat will have found some life and you make the switch then. I know for sure that Johnson’s position flexibility is what kept him on the roster because Francona has even said himself that he loves players who have that ability. For me, the point is moot because you basically have to create a space just to get Johnson in the lineup right now. Aviles is the better option at 2B, SS, and 3B. You have Chisenhall backing up 3B and 1B (and swinging a hot bat). When you have backups at every position, you keep the hot bat over the cold one… in the end, we’re not talking about a break-your-season move. It’s just a small move that makes absolutely no sense.

  • Natedawg86

    HE (Johnson) LOST US THAT GAME TOO!

  • Natedawg86

    It may have something to do with player options. MLB is funny like that

  • Pat Leonard

    It might, but I would be more into that argument if these guys were prospects. At this point in their careers, they more-or-less are what they are and you shouldn’t worry about how many more times you can send them down.

  • nj0

    While I really think Morgan has been bad in center thus far, I don’t get the allure of Johnson at all. I’d rather not have either on the roster, to be honest. Part of me thinks it must be to have Johnson play IF, yet he’s played pretty much exclusively in the outfield thus far this season.

  • nj0

    Most of Morgan’s value has come from his high BABIP, which isn’t going to last. His defense has been pretty bad thus far too. But I agree, I’d take him over Johnson whose value and potential remain a mystery to me.

  • mgbode

    I agree that his hot start is exactly that – a hot start. But, I like a guy like him on my bench (speed guy who can start in a pinch) and prefer him by leaps and bounds over E.J. So, that’s where I like him. He’s the OF Aviles and I’m good with that.

  • nj0

    Oh hey, awesome news…. Looks like Eliott Johnson’s time may be short here as, let me get my glasses on to read this, the Indians are supposed to be acti… acti… activating… Giambi… Jason Giambi…. later… this. wee.

  • Steve

    Two weeks is not enough to prove that Morgan is likely to remain a productive hitter. Is it really that important to have a 4th LHH outfielder?

  • Steve

    That certainly can be playing a part. Morgan could be optioned down, Johnson can’t be.

  • Kildawg

    I’m surprised that Morgan has (at least one) option left. Thought he would have to be DFA, but he still remains an option to help the team (even if it’s being traded). Think Johnson’s bat will come around, after all he started at 2B for Atlanta in the playoffs last year (although most of that was due to how bad Uggla was at the plate, not to mention his normally bad defense).

  • Pat Leonard

    This is true, and it’s why I stayed away from saying that Morgan is the right player to keep on the roster for the entire season. He’s the one with the hot bat right now, so right now that’s all I really care about. That and he’s probably a better fielding outfielder than Elliot Johnson, even though Morgan isn’t anything special out there. Elliot Johnson’s career OPS versus LHP is .583 and it’s .590 versus RHP. Morgan’s is admittedly bad versus LHP at .560, but it’s a solid .739 against RHP. I guess my point is that Elliot Johnson’s right-handed bat isn’t valuable even if he would be the only right-handed batter in the outfield. If that’s Francona’s reasoning for keeping him, I am not on board.

  • Steve

    Regarding the hot bat thing, its two weeks of a .400 BABIP in an almost completely platooned environment. That’s just not enough evidence that even in the very short term, he’ll continue to be the better hitter.

    And absolutely agree that Morgan is the better OF and better against RHP. I had this discussion with mgbode last week. I will not deny that those things are clearly in Morgan’s favor, and may even make him the better overall player in a vacuum. But the decision needs to be made as to how each fits the Indians roster. With Bourn back, it just doesn’t make sense to keep a guy solely because of his ability to play the OF and hit RHP. Johnson’s ability to do a few more things is a better fit. Back to the platoon thing, now that Bourn is back, where do you play Morgan against RHP?

  • Pat Leonard

    I would think that your argument should be slightly different then. Not that Elliot Johnson is the right player to keep, but that both guys should be sent down in favor of someone else from AAA. Shouldn’t Matt Carson be the RHB OF on the roster? His career .683 OPS versus LHP is not good, but he’d clearly be a better option at the plate and in the field as opposed to Johnson. For me this is all about position flexibility with Johnson… he can play so many different positions that Francona sees him as being more valuable than he really is.

  • Pat Leonard

    It was entirely Uggla’s struggles at the plate (and the fact that he’s a below-average fielder who relies on his offense to make up the difference). I just don’t see Johnson’s bat coming around… after all why should it? It’s never come around before and he’s 30 years old.

  • Steve

    Now we’re getting down to about 100 career PA when we’re parsing Matt Carson vs LHP. Sample size issues abound.

    But I did say last week that I would prefer that roster spot used on a RH bat, as in a guy known more for swinging the stick than playing the field. DH vs LHP seems like the most glaring opening right now. I suggested Aguilar, who probably isn’t ready though. I’d much rather have a RH version of Giambi than Johnson.

  • Hopwin

    The whole Eliot Johnson experiment is a mystery to me. He must have incriminating pictures of someone.

  • Pat Leonard

    I could get on board with Aguilar…. that one makes sense to me.