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Chase Utley Injury, Nyjer Morgan Trade Impacts NL East

Perhaps the two should not be in the same title, but I think they both have a big impact on the NL East.

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is out for an extended period of time due to a knee injury that won't go away. He has no timetable for a return, but when asked about the All-Star break, he said that was a goal. Not good news for the Phillies.

Utley's accomplishments are well-noted; he has a career wOBA of .388. Despite having a down year last season due to injury, Utley upped his plate discipline numbers to 12.3% BB% and 14.8% K%, maintaining an above-average .387 OBP for him. His power was sapped, recording a .169 ISO, compared to his career mark of .221. Despite playing in just 115 games, Utley still had a 5.2 fWAR season.

Instead, at least for a couple months, it appears, the Phillies are getting some combination of Luis Castillo or Wilson Valdez. If you combine their value from last season, it totals to 1.5 fWAR. Obviously, you can't replace Utley, but you get the point. The Phillies, who are already dealing with possible offensive concerns, will hurt from this.

The Nationals traded Nyjer Morgan to the Brewers due to his hot temper, instead going with Rick Ankiel in center. What?

Morgan is no on-base machine, but it was just 2009 when he posted a .340 wOBA and .369 OBP. That doesn't necessarily mean it was a fluke, because he posted solid on-base numbers throughout his minor league career, including walk rates. He has maintained a repectable walk rate of 7.1% in his big league career.

Ankiel has a better career walk rate (8.1%), but his career OBP (.312) is far worse than Morgan's, while his wOBA of .325 is slightly better due to power. Ankiel has been fighting to remain above replacement level the past two seasons, and he seems to be living off the 25-homer season in 2008. It's likely he will never return to those numbers, and I feel Morgan provides a better value right now. It's unfortunate for Nats fans that the circumstances drove him out of Washington and caused the Nationals to go with the inferior option at a prime position.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.