It’s a move that is already being heavily criticized by Cleveland Indians fans, but one that if you look at it on paper, makes perfect sense. The Tribe today sent outfielder Nyjer Morgan to AAA Columbus, activating Michael Bourn off of the disabled list. Bourn missed the first 13 Indians games, in which the team went 6-7, with a hamstring injury that he suffered in Spring Training.
Morgan played his guts out just to make the team out of the spring after playing last season in the Nippon Professional Baseball organization, playing for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. He got even more of a chance to shine when Bourn went down, and he was the Opening Day center fielder for the Tribe. Morgan went 8-for-23 with four RBIs for the Indians, and even made headlines during a game against the San Diego Padres. The outfielder came to the plate to the song “Flight Of The Valkyries,” the theme of WWE wrestling champion Daniel Bryan. The night he debuted the song, he had three hits and had two RBIs.
The game plan all along through was for Morgan to be an insurance policy for Bourn, who inked a four-year deal with the Indians worth $48 million back in February of 2013. He’s entering his second year of the deal, and while he’s had some moments where he seemed to be the player the Indians thought they were getting, Year 1 of the Bourn era with the Indians was mostly average, as he hit .263 with 21 doubles, six homers, 50 RBIs, and 23 steals.
There was no doubt that despite how well Morgan played, he was not going to be able to stick on the Indians’ 25-man roster if Bourn was 100 percent. The outcry today was that the team should have sent utility man Elliot Johnson to the minors instead. Johnson, another player who fought his way onto the roster, has appeared in just four games thus far, and is just 1-for-11, a .091 average. Johnson is valuable for the fact he can play the infield, as well as the outfield.
Morgan will get his chance to get at bats in Columbus at the Triple-A level, and if needed, the Indians can call on him. It may not be popular with the fans, but for GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona, it’s a move that makes nothing but sense at a time when the team needs to get back to the type of baseball they played in the spring and at the end of 2013.