Mets Merized Online » Lastings Milledge Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:51:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Puello Named Eastern League Player of the Month Mon, 08 Jul 2013 17:49:02 +0000 Well, this should come as a surprise to no one at all:

Cesar Puello, who was already having a solid year heading into the month of June, went into another gear before the calendar flipped to July. Last Monday, I talked about the type of month he had for the B-Mets, but every time I look at his June numbers, I have to pick my jaw up off the floor.

The outfielder was limited to just 17 games and 68 at-bats due to a finger injury, but that didn’t slow his production. Actually, he accumulated more home runs (eight) and RBIs (24) in June than he had in either of the previous two months. Combine that with a .441/.465/.897 line, and he had a pretty special month. That line yielded him an OPS of 1.362. And no, that’s not a typo.

The only knock on his game last month was the amount of walks he drew. He only collected two free passes, which were by far his lowest monthly total. Puello hasn’t drawn a walk since June 7th. I’ll get into this more in the afternoon, but I’m not very worried about his lack of walks. Plus, if he’s hitting .441 and slugging .897, I want the man to swing the bat!

Congratulations to Cesar on being named the EAS player of the month for June. I can safely assume that most of us saw this honor coming his way.

By the way, here’s a second look at some of the fantastic original content that was produced by our Mets Minors staff this week:

Pitcher of the Week: Jacob deGrom

Player of the Week: Jayce Boyd

Top Ten Prospect Tracker: Week 13

Meet the Mets: Jack Leathersich

What Will Become of Mejia?

Prospect Time Machine: Lastings Milledge

Boom or Bust: Matt den Dekker

My First Professional Game as a Sports Writer

Lucie Logistics: Plawecki and Boyd Adjusting Well to Life in FSL, Bowman on his Game

Allan Dykstra: From First Round Bust to EAS All Star

As always, we appreciate you coming along for the ride with us… Here’s to another fantastic week of Mets Minor League baseball!

(Photo credit: Gordon Donovan)

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The Mets’ Hardscrabble History Of Drafting Outfielders Thu, 06 Jun 2013 14:02:09 +0000 darryl strawberry

The Mets have drafted 72 outfielders in the first 5 rounds (top 100 picks) during the 48 year history of the MLB draft. Of those 72, 18 made it to the majors.

Of those 18, six of them enjoyed what can only be described as cups of coffee with a variety of teams. They were, John Gibbons (24th overall 1980), John Christensen (38th overall 1981), Terry Blocker (4th overall 1981), Stan Jefferson (20th overall 1983), Rod Gaspar (40th overall 1967), Ike Blessitt (56th overall 1967).

Seven had careers as back-ups or bench players:

Lastings Milledge: (12th overall 2003) A toolsy outfielder out of Bradenton, Florida, once ranked as the best 16 year old player in the nation by Baseball America. He was considered by many a top three pick who fell to 12th overall because of a history of sexual misconduct. Lastings was much maligned in the Met clubhouse for his enthusiasm on the field and his choice of music in the clubhouse and was eventually traded to the Nationals. His best season was 2008 with the Nationals when he hit 14 homers and had 61 RBI’s. He is currently playing with the Yahult Swallows in Japan.

Jason Tyner: (21st overall 1998) Speedy outfielder out of Texas A& M was traded to the Rays and had one good season with them when he stole 31 bases in 105 games and hit .280. With various stints with Minnesota and Cleveland in the ensuing years he mostly bounced back and fort from AAA to the majors as a back-up.

Jay Payton: (29th overall 1992) Spent several seasons after being traded by the Mets as a 4th outfielder bench player type. Had a couple of seasons as a regular and one really good season (2003) with Colorado when he hit 28 home runs with .302 average, but never really established himself anywhere.

Shawn Abner: (1st overall 1984) Labeled a “can’t miss” prospect, Shawn never played up to his potential and was eventually traded to San Diego in the Kevin McReynolds deal where he played occasionally. His best season was 1992 with the White Sox when he hit .279 in 208 at bats.

Kal Daniels: (58th overall 1982 but did not sign with the Mets in the January phase, signed with Cincinatti in the June phase). Had a couple of pretty good seasons with Cincinnati and one excellent season with the Dodgers when he hit 27 home runs and had 94 RBI with a .296 average.

Herm Winningham: (9th overall 1981) – became a useful bench player and pinch hitter over several seasons with Montreal / Cincinnati.

Randy Milligan: (3rd overall 1981) several seasons of 20 or more doubles, one 20 home run season (1990) with the Orioles. Walked a lot — had a career OBP of .391 – but otherwise unremarkable.

Only five Mets first round selections out of 72 ended up as All-Stars:

Lee Mazzilli: (14th overall 1973) His best seasons were 1979 and 1980, he got on base, stole bases (41 steals in 1989), and had decent pop with 15 and 16 home runs respectively in those two seasons. Mazzilli was an All-Star in 1979 and was the best player on the Mets for several of the dark late 70’s years otherwise I would have probably included him in the former primarily “back-up” list — he became more well known as a pinch hitter and bench player later in his career.

Darryl Strawberry: (1st overall 1980) Perennial All-Star MVP candidate. One of the greatest players of his generation. Central figure in outstanding Mets teams during the late 1980’s including the 1986 World Series winner. Greatest Right Fielder in club history.

Ken Singleton: (3rd overall 1967). Was traded in 1972 for Rusty Staub. Singleton went on to be a perennial middle of the order All-Star with Montreal and Baltimore. Ended up with 246 career homers and 1065 RBI’s over a 15 year Major League career. Singleton was part of the Baltimore Orioles 1983 World Series winner.

Jeromy Burnitz: (17th overall 1990) Solid Major League outfielder with good power and decent defense mostly with the Brewers. Had 5, 30 + homer seasons and 4 seasons of 100 or more RBI.

Todd Hundley: (39th overall 1987) drafted as an outfielder, Hundley spent most of his career as a catcher. had two All Star seasons and one MVP caliber season (1996), During the height of the steroid era his power jumped from 16 and 15 home runs in 1994 and 1995 to 40 and 30 home runs respectively in 1996 and 1997. Hundley was featured prominently in the Mitchel report as both a user of steroids and a person known for connecting other players with means and access to PED’s.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

In the 48 years since the draft was first instituted, the Mets have drafted five outfielders in the first five rounds who ended up having careers as Major League regulars. Four when you consider one was really a catcher. 48 years, 4 players. That’s one player every 12 years.

David Schoenfield of ESPN recently pointed out that the last time the Mets drafted an all star was 2002 (Scott Kazmir). Prior to that you have David Wright in 2001 and then you have to go back to Bobby Jones, who was drafted in 1991.  People talk a lot about spending on free agents, but when you look at teams who’ve spent recently, the Yankees, the Angels, and the Dodgers, you realize spending big on free agents doesn’t guarantee anything in today’s game. The Mets, as a team, are not struggling solely because they haven’t spent on free agency, they’re struggling because they haven’t drafted well. Teams are becoming better at locking up young exceptional players to long term deals and free agency no longer provides the panacea of talent it once did.

If the Mets are to build a winner they have to do it through the draft, and historically Met drafts have been littered with busts and question marks, particularly in the outfield. The Mets could help themselves tremendously if they pick the right players in today’s draft. I like Hunter Renfroe for his power and defense and as a college player he could progress quickly. Austin Wilson might be a good one, Aaron Judge is another with a huge presence (6’7″) and massive power potential. I also like Billy McKinney for his outstanding bat speed. We should have a shot at at least one of these guys.

Whomever the Mets select today and tomorrow, if they are to field a competitive team in the next few years they’re going to need some decent young outfielders, and relying on free agency may not provide the quality and consistency a championship team requires. A case in point, next year’s free agent outfield pool is headlined by the likes of Hunter Pence and Shin-Soo Choo … decent players to be sure, but not exactly game-changers.

You could go the trade rout, but trades are always a risk as you have to give to get, and given the current Mets farm system, the Mets would almost certainly be giving up pitching talent — something I’d be hesitant to do when you consider pitching is what wins in the playoffs and good pitching is exceedingly hard to come by. Nope, if the Mets want to develop a championship caliber outfield I think the best bet is to focus on drafting some solid outfielders … a scary premise historically for the Mets.

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Prima Donnas and Clubhouse Chemistry: A Met Perspective Sat, 18 May 2013 13:00:17 +0000 If Shakespeare were to write a play about the state of the Mets these days, it would probably be titled “Much Ado About Valdespin” as that’s about all anyone has to talk about outside of the largely dismal performance of the team between the lines. Inasmuch as the role young number 1 plays on the team is largely limited to that of utility player/pinch hitter, I wonder if the fuss being kicked up over his various perceived misbehaviors is not out of proportion to the relative importance he has to the team. Not that he is without talent-we all are tantalized by his speed, occasional power, and penchant for heroics, but the holes in his game are gaping enough to justify only judicious use of his presence in the lineup. Add in to this equation the somewhat larger-than-life aspects of his personality and you have a recipe for clubhouse controversy as testified to by the recent statement by seasoned veteran LaTroy Hawkins.

jeff kentSo, just how important is the ingredient of clubhouse chemistry to the relative success of a team? My feeling is that the degree of significance is in opposite proportion to the on-field success of the player involved. One former Met whose flinty personality rubbed people the wrong way everywhere he played was Jeff Kent, yet his undeniable offensive prowess (in more ways than one, I guess) led to a HOF-caliber career which included several seasons in the same lineup as Barry Bonds, no paragon of social niceties himself. In retrospect, the Mets trade of Kent for Carlos Baerga was a total clunker as Kent’s level of production exploded to All-Star level just as Baerga’s went into the tank. But at the time, Baerga was an All-Star who was younger than Kent and who carried none of the baggage associated with Kent, whose primary offense in a Met uniform was refusing to participate in a rookie ritual that involved wearing a ridiculous outfit for a team trip.

Team management saw the opportunity to swap a player they saw as having a somewhat negative effect on team harmony for a proven performer and they went for it. History has shown this to be one in a litany of bad trades that Met fans would just as soon forget, but you can’t argue with the logic at the time.  Add to this the fact that Indians management saw nothing wrong with spinning Kent off in the trade that landed him in San Francisco (where stardom followed) and you can’t really jump on poor Joe McIvaine’s case too hard. Once in Giant livery, Kent reeled off a string of tremendous seasons that culminated in arguably one of the greatest careers of any second baseman in MLB history. But he was still regarded as a major-league prick. I guess most teams would have put up with that aspect of his game as long as the rest of it was intact.

Another interesting chapter in the DSM of Metdom involved one Randall K. Myers and wunderkind batsman Gregg Jefferies. Jefferies, as you undoubtedly recall, was perhaps the most heralded Mets hitting prospect ever outside of Darryl Strawberry. Fans were regaled with tales of his incredible switch-hitting talents, honed through a variety of batting drills such as the semi-weird “swinging underwater in a pool” routine that the sports press of the time delighted in recounting. Upon his arrival, young Gregg looked to be the real thing, ripping off an impressive month at the end of the 1988 season and challenging the team to find a way to fit him into the same infield as Howard Johnson, the incumbent at Jefferies preferred position of third base.

gregg jefferiesAfter shifting the rookie across the diamond to second, the team received satisfactory offensive performance from him over the next two seasons, including a league leading 40 doubles in 1990. But prior to that campaign, the team had seen fit to trade Myers, a fireballing lefty reliever, to the Reds for his veteran counterpart and future Mets Hall-of-Famer John Franco. Not a terrible swap in retrospect, but at the time many wondered why the Mets would exchange a talent of Myers’ ilk for a player two years older who relied primarily on a deceptive change-up as an out pitch. The role of closer was one that most felt was better served by the blazer of young Randall K., and so inquiries as to the motivation of management with respect to the trade were made.

Revelations were forthcoming to the effect that the clubhouse friction between Myers and Jefferies was such that it was deemed best for all concerned to “keep ‘em separated,” to borrow a song lyric. Jefferies had been noted as being especially fussy about his bats and other equipment, and had garnered a reputation as a bit of a prima donna due to his helmet flinging episodes following strikeouts. Following reports that Myers had conspired with fellow bullpen denizen Roger McDowell to saw several of Jefferies bats in half and perhaps bring the youngster down a peg or two, it was made clear that the front office preferred to remove elements of controversy from the clubhouse. The element chosen was the self-styled cowabunga warrior Myers, a change that management hoped would help the more sensitive Jefferies flourish.  He did, ultimately, making the All-Star team and challenging for a batting title in 1993-for the St. Louis Cardinals. Prior to that, he had been part of the trade package put together to bring Bret Saberhagen to New York after his various peccadilloes had become less bearable in light of his merely competent level of production.

Another notorious bête noire of Met clubhouse history was former first-rounder Lastings Milledge whose escapades are still relatively fresh in the mind of the average Met fan. Now consigned to showing up opponents and teammates in Japan, the young Mr. Milledge arrived in 2006 with a reputation for trouble already established but with his talent still largely a promise of things to come. After two seasons in the Orange and Blue, he was sent packing to Washington for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, worthy enough role players but lacking any star power of the type hinted at by some aspects of Milledge’s game.  When his potential for stardom failed to materialize after that, he drifted to Pittsburgh, then on to the south side of Chicago before opting for the Far East. Still only 28, he may have finally found himself as a player with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. One can only hope that he has overcome the habits that lead to the posting of the infamous “Know Your Place, Rook” sign in his locker by Met teammate Billy Wagner.

A more unusual aspect of the “player as clubhouse distraction” syndrome was noted during the 2004 and 2005 seasons when Anna Benson, the wife of the contrastingly low-key Met pitcher Kris Benson, arrived on the scene.  The combination of Mrs. Benson’s startlingly frank pronouncements on virtually everything with behavior such as appearing as a va-va-voom version of “Mrs. Claus” at the Met annual Christmas charity function combined to lead to a trade with Baltimore sending her husband out of town after a season and a half. That the male Benson’s apparent talent level was that of an eminently replaceable back-of-rotation starter probably contributed to his exit as well. Had he displayed more in the way of dominant pitching skills, the team’s tolerance for the more “colorful” aspects of his spouse’s persona might have been greater.

So, what of the Mets’ current bad boy? I expect that as long as whatever contributions he makes on the field outweigh the perceived negative effect of his extra-curricular antics, he will stick around. At this point, the team hasn’t done a lot to enhance his trade value anyway.  Considering the organization’s history though, I imagine that if circumstances conspire to raise his baseball value in the estimation of any general manager not named Alderson, he could be on his way somewhere in the relatively near future. Maybe someone will be enticed to take him for a “’Spin?”

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Those Who Contribute the Least Shouldn’t Be Made the Story Mon, 13 May 2013 14:00:08 +0000 Mets historians will recall how former GM Frank Cashen declared, ““those who contribute the least spray the most champagne” after being doused by reliever Randy Niemann during the 1986 NLCS championship celebration. I think it’s time to take that mantra when it comes to Jordany Valdespin, except those that contribute the least shouldn’t be made the story.

With Twitter, Facebook and blogs – both mainstream and otherwise – available throughout the 24/7/365 news cycle, it’s impossible to not transfer that meme to those that cover and watch sports.  On Saturday, Jordany Valdespin took one to the forearm a day after he embarrassingly celebrated a home run during a Pirates blowout win.  What resulted was talk about the validity of Pittsburgh’s Bryan Morris‘ actions, and how the Valdespin’s teammates reacted. Instead of continuing this news “filler,” let me set everyone straight as to what the deal is with Valdespin.

First, Jordany Valdespin is nothing more than a backup player. He isn’t the future, nor is he a clone of Jose Reyes, the answer in the outfield or infield, or some sort of energizer for a slumping offense. He possesses poor plate discipline and is an average defender, at best, at any position. His career MILB on-base percentage was .330. In the big leagues he’s shown even less of a penchant to get on-base with his .287 clip. Even worse, he doesn’t come across as a hard worker or someone that possesses a big league baseball IQ. There is nothing with Valdespin’s process that screams big league starter, much less star. I have my doubts he will stick around since he seems unable to endear himself to any clubhouse throughout his career.

This is not about race. The players dislike Valdespin because of who he is. Think it’s just his current teammates? After a game-winning grand-slam against the Dodgers, former B-Mets reliever Erik Turgeon took to Twitter and shared these nuggets:

“Valdespin with a walk off home run. If you need me I will be in the bathroom throwing up! I have Zero respect for that piece of s***”

“If your shocked that, then you don’t kno bout all that! Happy for the mets wish someone deserving got the hit like Lagares!”

“Tough for me to get Valdespin out when I’m on the same team as him don’t ya think?”

“Evidence ask your favorite guy in the organization who there least favorite guy is”

jordany valdespinWho cares what a retired minor league reliever says, right? What about his current teammates, none who seemed upset or enraged that he was plunked on Saturday. There was furor about how John Buck conducted the pie celebration after that very same grand slam. When I asked Buck about it last week his response with a coy smile was telling: “A big walk-off home run deserves a big pie to the face.”

Read from that what you will, but contrite, at least in my opinion, is not the word to use when describing Buck’s comments. Remember, this is the same guy that was suspended in the minors for an undisclosed incident (some speculation is that it was for a Ruben Rivera-type action, read into that what you will), and again this past offseason during winter ball. There is too much smoke around Valdespin’s fire.

On a good team Valdespin provides speed and power off the bench. Those are characteristics that do make him valuable. His clownish behavior is probably overshadowing that right now, making the story more about him than the team. This will be tolerated when someone like R.A. Dickey is winning Cy Young Awards, but rarely so with a borderline big league player. Valdespin embarrassed the Mets this weekend. Take those blue and orange sunglasses off and see what the opponents do to another bad team celebrating a meaningless home run. It reminds me of how the Nationals used to be when they had Anderson Hernandez, Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes: Bad attitude, clownish behavior and, worst of all, a lot of losses.

The shame of it all is Valdespin does have some raw talent. If he took the time to learn from those around him, and put the effort into improving, perhaps there would be hope for better days ahead. Right now, you can’t even get him to take extra batting practice. He consistently never shows up to such events, which is almost sacrilegious on a team that is hitting so poorly; even more damning for a wet behind the ears rookie.

If I were the Mets I would move on from Valdespin ASAP. You probably don’t want to release him as he is too good to be put on the waiver wire. Perhaps there is a minor deal that Alderson can spring for an outfielder. Not a starter or star, but someone that is a bench player, but is a starter on this team due to circumstances. Maybe another team looks at Valdespin’s talent and thinks they can “steal” a future contributor. You never know what you can get if you ask.

Sandy Alderson needs to set the tone and show the club that professionalism and behavior matters to this organization. Ridding the clubhouse of Valdespin won’t turnaround this lost season, but it will be addition by subtraction. You are not losing anything on the field as those late-game home runs are bound to run dry as he makes his way around the league.

I am sure this opinion will stir up debate, however I doubt it’s worth the time.

Those that contribute the least spray the most champagne; they also take up the most space when it comes to the news.

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How It All Went Wrong For Lastings Milledge Sun, 07 Apr 2013 12:53:41 +0000 lastings milledge 2I will remember it as if I saw it yesterday for the first time.

A sheet of notebook paper, with the words, “Know your place, Rook … signed, your teammates,” was taped over Lastings Milledge’s locker in the Mets’ clubhouse in old RFK Stadium. This, in the late summer in 2006.

The Mets were en route to the playoffs and a veteran laden team was rubbed the wrong way by Milledge’s brashness and arrogance. Then-manager Willie Randolph – who reprimanded Milledge several times that summer – ripped down the sign, but knew he hadn’t ripped away the problem.

The Mets labeled it a misunderstanding, and Randolph called Lastings Milledge “a good kid,’’ but this clearly was not a misunderstanding with a teammate. It was the accumulation of several incidents that rankled several teammates.

Milledge burst upon the Mets, hitting over .300, was dazzling on the bases and showed a strong arm. He was going to be the next “fill in the blank.’’ Willie Mays? Roberto Clemente?

However, things quickly cooled after his first career homer, when on his way to the outfield he high-fived fans down the right field line in Shea Stadium. Randolph sensed how the Giants seethed in their dugout, especially since he saw some of his own players do the same.

Randolph reprimanded Milledge on the unwritten laws in baseball, but it didn’t take. There were ground balls he didn’t run out and times he didn’t hustle in the outfield. He was flash with the jewelry swinging wildly on the field, but in the clubhouse he often sat buried in his locker wearing headphones or playing a video game.

milledge 3He came off as sullen and angry and clearly couldn’t be bothered by getting to know his teammates. Or, a baseball legend for that matter. During spring training then-GM Omar Minaya brought Milledge to the Nationals dugout to meet Frank Robinson, but Milledge was came off as being in-different.

Finally, he arrived in the clubhouse in Philadelphia an hour before a day game. Although it was early, the veterans made it in on time. David Wright had enough when Milledge strolled in with sunglasses and an iPod as if he owned the place and told him this wasn’t acceptable.

Wright wouldn’t belabor the issue Opening Day, only managing to say “seniority is big in this game,’’ which is the politically-correct translation for Milledge hadn’t earned his stripes.

Milledge popped into my consciousness today when I learned it was his 28th birthday, an age when he should be in the prime of his career. Instead, Milledge is one of hundreds of baseball prospects given the label of “can’t miss, but eventually did.’’

Seven years ago – the career lifetime of a select few – the Mets had three prized outfield prospects in Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez. One by one they arrived, fizzled to the point of exasperation and were traded. Not one of them hustled like journeyman outfielder Collin Cowgill.

After turning down several proposals for Manny Ramirez, the Mets eventually traded Milledge to Washington as part of a trade that brought Ryan Church – he of the concussion fiasco – and catcher Brian Schneider. Milledge had his coffee to go with Washington, then Pittsburgh and finally the White Sox before heading to Japan. Milledge had his head-scratching moments in each place, but basically stopped hitting.

At 28, Milledge is still young. It’s about discipline in Japan and if Milledge comes back with a changed attitude perhaps he’ll get another chance. It’s a long way to Japan, and perhaps an even longer route back to the major leagues.

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Featured Post: The Mets Needed To Make Wright Captain Sun, 24 Mar 2013 13:00:55 +0000 MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

There is a conspiracy theory everywhere you look. I read one suggesting the Mets made David Wright captain to divert attention away from the field, where they are projected to be bad. Very bad.

Smokescreens like that never work. Besides, Mets fans are like children and dogs in a way, after awhile, they know when they’re getting duped.C’mon. Are you serious? How long do you think that will last? With virtually no hope given to the Mets this year, they’ll be coming out to see Wright and the young players such as Matt HarveyIke Davis, Travis d’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler. The last two you’ll probably see sometime in June.

Besides, if taking the fan’s attention away from the team is the goal, they should have done this three years ago as the attendance at Citi Field has consistently dwindled.

Wright is simply the best player the Mets have, and arguably the best player – outside of Tom Seaver – they ever produced. And best, I mean both on and off the field.

As Major League Baseball goes after Ryan Braun and others in a witch hunt over PED’s, Wright has publicly stood up against drug users. A long time ago, when I asked Derek Jeter about steroids, he said: “I don’t use them, so it’s none of my business.”

Guess again. It is every player’s business for their sport to be clean and Wright, whether or not it comes from his father who is in law enforcement, has always stood for that goal. He should be commended for that alone.

I know some don’t feel Wright is clutch enough, but that’s nonsense. Baseball is about failing three out every ten at-bats just to be good, and Wright is the best the Mets have in that regard. Who else would you rather see at the plate in the ninth inning of a close game?

Jeff Wilpon said the appointment was for all Wright has done, and will do, for the organization in the future. The Mets have been awful on the field since 2008, and even worse off it with the Ponzi scandal, numerous bad signings and public relations fiascos. With all those around him losing their heads, Wright kept his, to paraphrase Rudyard Kipling.

When it was clear the Mets were about to sack Willie Randolph, Wright spoke out for his manager – and against management – because it was the right thing to do. He blamed himself and the players, not the manager whom management had spied on with Tony Bernazard.

A leader sometimes deals with uncomfortable things, and yes, Wright spoke against Lastings Milledge coming in late. He downplays it now, but it had to be done. Players often take their lead from other players, and when somebody doesn’t hustle, Wright lets him know it in a low-key, yet effective manner.

He doesn’t get in their faces, just their minds. And, that’s what leaders, and captains, do.

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Where Have You Gone, Lastings Milledge? Sun, 03 Feb 2013 19:09:45 +0000 lastings milledge throwback night 1986 2006

A few days ago, my fav’rit Gal For All Seasons continued her new weekly series on a topic near and dear to her – what she likes to call post-traumatic Mets disorder – by discussing her survival of Lastings Milledge.   For those of you who have tried to block out the Omar Minaya era or were never a card-carrying member of the Milledge People, allow me to refresh your memory on who Lastings Milledge was (technically, he still is Lastings Milledge, as far as I know).

Lastings Milledge was a flashy prospect for the Mets who had five-tool talent – a latter-day Darryl Strawberry, if you will.  Although he didn’t possess Strawberry’s prodigious power (the type of power that would make you wait until after his at-bat to get your Shea Stadium souvenir cup soda), he was supposed to be the future in the Mets outfield.  However, when Milledge first got called up to the Mets in 2006, he was more Throneberry than Strawberry.

Milledge batted .241 in 56 games for the division champs, with four homers, 22 RBIs and one stolen base.  As a 21-year-old enjoying his first call-up to the big leagues, Milledge looked overmatched at times, taking awkward hacks at the plate.  A .300 hitter in the minor leagues, Milledge barely cracked a .300 on-base percentage for the Mets in 2006, finishing the season at .310.

In 2007, Milledge made the team out of spring training, but was sent back down to the minors after playing in only three games in April.  He didn’t make it back to the big show until July, but when he did, he finally showed some of the potential the Mets expected to see when they drafted him as the 12th overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft.  From July 21 to August 15, Milledge played in 20 games, batting .389 (28-for-72) with nine extra-base hits, 12 RBIs, 14 runs scored and two stolen bases.

Milledge only played in 59 games for the Mets in 2007 (three more than he played in 2006), but improved in most offensive categories.  He finished the season with a .272 batting average, .341 on-base percentage and .446 slugging percentage.  Milledge belted seven homers, drove in 29 runs and stole three bases in 184 at-bats.  Those numbers made it seem like Milledge was settling in for a long career in New York.  But unfortunately, he did have one thing in common with Darryl Strawberry.  He made the front office uncomfortable with his off-the-field habits.

Instead of settling in as the team’s starting rightfielder in 2008, Milledge was dealt to the Washington Nationals for rightfielder Ryan Church and catcher Brian Schneider.  When Church wasn’t getting concussed, he was a decent offensive player.  Schneider wasn’t a bad catcher, but his offensive production was a far cry from what Paul LoDuca gave the Mets in 2006 and 2007.  Heck, Schneider wasn’t even Ramon Castro when it came to his hitting prowess.

As Church and Schneider settled in with their new team, Milledge had a career year in Washington.  Milledge played in 138 games for the Nationals in 2008 and batted .268 with 24 doubles, 14 homers, 61 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. A slow start in 2009 earned Milledge a return trip to the minors and eventually got him traded to Pittsburgh.  Milledge performed decently in the Steel City, but nagging injuries never allowed him to settle into the everyday lineup.  In 1½ seasons as a Pirate, Milledge only collected 599 at-bats, but managed to hit .282 with 32 doubles, eight homers, 54 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.  When the Pirates failed to offer Milledge a contract following the 2010 season, he signed a free agent deal with the Chicago White Sox.  Milledge only played in two games with Chicago in 2011 and then couldn’t get another job with a major league team.

After realizing that his talents were not wanted stateside, Milledge packed his bags, dusted off his passport, and took his game to Japan on a one-year deal with the Yakult Swallows.  Finally healthy, Milledge played in 125 games for the Swallows and batted .300 with 23 doubles, 21 homers, 65 RBIs, 73 runs scored and nine stolen bases.  He also showed much-improved discipline at the plate, striking out 79 times in 546 plate appearances and drawing a career-high 57 walks.  Milledge’s .865 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) would have been second on the 2012 Mets, after David Wright’s .883 OPS.  And that’s where the point of this piece finally makes itself known.

Sandy Alderson has been in search of an outfielder since the season ended.  So far Alderson has signed Andrew Brown and Marlon Byrd to minor league contracts, and he’s traded for outfielder Collin Cowgill. He’s also doing his best to romance Michael Bourn into a discounted deal with the Mets.  But when Lastings Milledge’s contract with the Swallows expired following the 2012 campaign, Alderson didn’t even notice.  As a result, Milledge chose to stay in Japan, signing a three-year, $4.4 million contract with a fourth year mutual option.

So now the Mets are still trying to figure out which combination of outfielders they’re going to use in 2013, while Milledge will be playing the prime years of his career (he won’t be 28 until April) overseas.  The Mets didn’t want to give Scott Hairston $4 million per year because he wanted a two-year deal.  But Yakult was able to keep Milledge away from the major leagues with $4.4 million over three years.

Lastings Milledge might have been a pain for the Mets front office five years ago, but now he’s only a pain for opposing pitchers in Japan.  It’s too bad Sandy Alderson didn’t take notice when he had the chance.

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Ramblings About Success And Some Reminiscing Sun, 01 Apr 2012 15:53:39 +0000 Every team has to have a number of components in order to brew a culture of winning and unity that is found in most legitimate contenders. The token ace, power bat, golden glove, and bullpen leader are a given, but just because you follow the directions of a paint by numbers doesn’t mean it will be a masterpiece. Realistically there are more cogs in the machine than we could imagine and it takes a perfect storm to mold a successful season. Calm down I am not attempting to rationalize that the Metropolitans are floating about while the puzzle pieces are falling together. However the club is capable of taking legitimate steps forward, or at least making an effort to rebuild a culture that has been M.I.A. for many moons.

The fact of the matter is, Jose Reyes was the superstar who possessed all the ideal points of a lovable glue guy (noun: middle of the pack talent who has the ability to electrify the crowd with a solid showing; player who goes above and beyond his expected effort output; gamer who develops a touch of extra personality in order to hold on to some semblance of excitement or because he likes having a dirty uniform). It was a beautiful thing to witness a legitimate franchise player hold onto his child-like love for the game, but Jose’s departure leaves a massive hole in the personality of this franchise. Personally, I don’t see a David Wright or an elderly Johan Santana hopping around the dugout and hyping everyone up.

Yes, this is a rebuilding year for the Mets. Yes, they will probably embarrass themselves. However there are a number of young guys like Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, and Lucas Duda who will likely be around after the Mets’ makeover. I wouldn’t be upset if Justin Turner or even a Bobby Parnell made it through the scourge. Granted it is important to focus on improving their game, but heading into this season I want to see them mesh and get a little goofy. Notice I didn’t even mention Wheeler, Harvey, or Familia? I only hear great things and I am excited to see how they perform when they get the call up, but that conversation is for another day. The point I am trying to get across is that I truly believe the birth of this new culture must be the first step in the rebuilding campaign. Try and personify the current organization, management and players, as soon to be parents baby-proofing the house, setting up the crib, hanging up some colorful wallpaper, and buying stuffed animals in bulk. The baby can’t appreciate it at the moment but when the time finally comes to give birth (moves have been made, poor contracts are expired, etc) the child will walk into the perfect setting. I don’t want to see these three pitching prospects finally make it to the big show only to see a depressed and hopeless squad with no real excitement.

In a perfect world the current roster can somehow breed a sense of unity and smoothness regardless of their record. David Wright looks like a swell guy when he whips out that smile but I would kill to watch Duda and Tejada grabbing at each other as they try to will a warning tracker out of the park. More importantly who will be the official creator of handshakes?!?! Call me immature or crazy but I crave genuine camaraderie and I truly believe these young “glue guys” need to get a bit more glue in their system.

Who knows? The only thing for certain is that we simply don’t know which rung of the NL East totem pole will be inhabited by the Metsies. The debate continues whether or not the stars will align or if the Mets will lay claim to last place from day one, but it will certainly be interesting to see how those on the roster will react to the state of affairs. In the meantime, let’s look at a couple guys we grew to love/hate in no particular order, and check in on where they are now.

Oliver Perez – I don’t really know how to start explaining my love affair with Ollie. On paper he was an absolute bum who rarely even sniffed his own potential while with the Mets. On the other hand, I know that the crowd developed an uncanny sense of impending greatness the few times he really brought his “stuff” to the mound. Ollie haters can go ahead and claim that it was just the reaction of absolute shock that the stiff finally pulled it together. Perhaps I am biased since I proudly rocked a sombrero as a member of Ollie’s Tamales whenever I could attend  one of his starts, but deep down we all know that high leg kick just seemed to charge the stadium up. Plus, those studly sideburns certainly didn’t hurt the cause. Sadly enough, even I can only reminisce about the good Ollie so much before questioning my own sanity. Terrible contract, even worse performance, but what happened after we all turned our backs on Mr. Perez? After the Mets released Perez in March of 2011 he was assigned to a minor league deal by the Washington Nationals. Unfortunately it took another relegation to Double A before Ollie was able to put of respectable numbers. Alas, the Nats were still not impressed and eventually released my main man. The saga of Ollie still has a heartbeat as he just recently received an invitation to spring training in the big show with the Mariners, although he didn’t make the opening day roster.

John Maine – Johny Maine was basically a one and a half pitch wonder who managed to kill it while healthy in his first couple season with the Mets from 2006-2007. Unfortunately we were forced to witness a gradual and constant decline in numbers and physical deterioration. Dan Warthen was quoted as saying that Maine had a habit of lying about his health, and became a free agent after missing most of the 2010 season following shoulder surgery. Next stop was Colorado, but a change of scenery did not improve the situation as he only pitched 45 innings and posted a 7.43 ERA in Triple-A. Retirement suddenly became an option, but Maine’s career is currently back on life support after signing a minor league contract a month ago. Realistically you have to be pessimistic about his career and it doesn’t like we will see John Maine command the mound ever again.

Endy Chavez – The man, the myth, the legend. Endy will forever hold a special place in my heart after “the catch” in 2006 and another temporary season saving grab in the last regular season game in 2008. He was a fan favorite during his three years with the Mets and a real quality defensive replacement. Good times were had, but Endy was eventually traded to Seattle where he tore the ACL in his right knee while colliding with Yuniesky Betancourt. After free-agency, the next stop was Texas where he hit a very solid .301 in 256 at bats last season. The 34 year old lefty still has some juice in the tank, and is expected to platoon in left field for the Baltimore Orioles this upcoming season.

Jeff Francoeur – You either love or you hate Frenchy. The Braves gave up on the former first round pick after an unacceptably long slump, and the Mets got their hands on the streaky outfielder with a cannon for an arm in exchange for Ryan Church. He had a decent single season for the Met but also famously hit into a game-ending unassisted triple play. Francoeur was benched the next season to make room for Carlos Beltran and traded to the Rangers for an irrelevant Joaquín Árias. In the end, he signed a one-year deal with the Royals, joined the 20 20 club for the first time in 2011, and then signed a hefty two-year $13.5 million dollar extension. Personally, I enjoyed watching Frenchy play in 2009 and that trademark grin makes it obvious he absolutely loves the game.

Ramon Castro – If I were a betting man I would say Ramon came out of the womb with the jowls of a bulldog. He was a lovable guy throughout his four and a half years with the Mets, and had a fairly reliable bat for a backup catcher behind the likes of Mike Piazza, Paul Lo Duca, and Brian Schneider. Fans were always hoping Castro would be given the reigns whenever the starting job opened up but he was never really given a shot. After the Mets he ended up with the White Sox. His claim to fame is catching Mark Buehrle’s perfect game in July of 2009. It was the first time he caught for Buehrle, who claimed that he didn’t shake off Castro a single time during the game. The guy is 35 and technically the third string catcher but Castro fans will probably get a couple more sightings as he should be healthy heading into spring training.

Lastings Milledge – The kid made his major league debut for the Mets at 21 years and 55 days old in, the same exact age of the great Darryl Strawberry, in 2006. He didn’t do anything too impressive until hitting his first career knocker against San Fran closer Armando Benitez in the bottom of the tenth inning to tie the game up at six a piece. Usually you love seeing a youngin’ get excited about making a huge hit, but the media and his teammates were pretty darn pissed when he gave fans a high five as he returned to the field to play some defense. The next year Milledge found himself shuffling in between the majors and AAA, was chastised for appearing in a rap video with some wrist-slap worthy language, and was subsequently traded to the Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. To make a long story short, Lastings spent the next three seasons constantly recovering from injuries while putting up mediocre numbers for the Nationals and Pirates. Unfortunately it looked like the saga of this once promising Metsie was winding down after Pittsburgh chose not to offer him a new contract. The bad news continued as he barely even sniffed the big show after being signed to a minor league contract by the White Sox in 2011. You have to give the guy credit though as he recently signed a one year contract with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Clearly the hype wasn’t warranted but I simply can’t root against my ex-Mets. Go Swallows baby!

Whew. It’s always nice to reminisce, but this sad group of gentlemen didn’t fair very well after leaving Queens, considering Frenchy is really the only guy who is doing more than simply chugging along. Hope you guys enjoyed it and if there is a demand I’d be more than happy to put together another recap of ex-Mets and where the road has taken them…Carlos Gomez, Alex Cora, Pedro Feliciano, Xavier Nady pop into mind. I’m new to the twitter game so hit me up @HisDudenessOfNY with any requests or if you just want to tell me how much I suck/rock.

Always a pleasure MMO nation. Until next time..

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Glad Omar Is Unwilling To Rush Prospects To Save Job Tue, 23 Mar 2010 11:00:17 +0000 This Spring we’ve gotten to look at some of our young prospects and they have impressed fans, the media and the team.  The reports that the farm system was dead have been greatly exaggerated it seems.  Fernando Martinez, Ike Davis, Jon Niese and Jenrry Mejia are having great springs, so of course there has been plenty of talk about them joining the big team once camp breaks. 

Coming into Spring Training, the fifth sport in the rotation was Jon Niese’s spot to lose so it’s not a big a surprise if he makes the 25 man rotation.  Jerry Manuel has expressed his desire for Ike Davis and Jenrry Mejia to make the team, but Omar Minaya has stated on several occasions that both youngsters as well as F-Mart will start the season in the minors.

This is welcomed news that clearly shows Omar has finally learned from the mistakes of the past in rushing young talent to the majors.  Mike Pelfrey was rushed and as we have seen it ended up being wrong for the team and Big Pelf as well. Lastings Milledge was nowhere near ready when he was called up and his career has suffered ever since.  Last year F-Mart was rushed and in turn delivered terrible results until finally getting injured and missing the rest of the season.

Allowing the prospects to grow in the minors until they’re ready, might be Omar’s saving grace as he tries to make a last stand for keeping his job.  We have heard for the last few months that Omar and Jerry’s job’s are both on the line this season and they need the team to avoid a slow start.  Personally, I believel that Omar is safe for now and that he won’t be released until after the season if things do go bad, but that’s a different post all together.  I believe that due to the emergence of these solid prospects waiting in the wings, all of whom were acquired by Minaya, and his new 3 year extension which is just now kicking in, Omar will be able to save his job moving forward.  It’s a shrewd and smart move on Omar’s part to avoid rushing theses kids, but the decision could pay off handsomely when they are inevitably called upon and they make their impacts felt in the win column.

Ultimately, it’s the right move and indicates that Omar is willing to do what is best for the prospects and the team in the long run. I look forward to seeing Mejia, Davis and F-Mart all get the proper seasoning before rejoining the team and giving our franchise and it’s fans many years excitement and solid play.

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Milledge Traded Again, Looks Good For Nats Tue, 30 Jun 2009 23:35:09 +0000 The Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed on a deal that will send OF Lastings Milledge and RHP Joel Hanrahan to Pittsburgh in return for OF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett.

After reading some opinions from a few Pirates and Nationals bloggers, the consensus seems to be the Nationals have a slight edge. In my opinion the Nationals fleeced the Pirates. Of course we may not know the real winner for years to come.

Fan Graphs believes baseball’s worst outfield just got better with addition of Nyjer Morgan. I like their analysis of the trade.

Washington’s outfield has combined for a -24.5 UZR this year, easily the worst in baseball (the next lowest is the Blue Jays at -19.2). The combination of Elijah Dukes, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Austin Kearns, and Willie Harris have been disastrous in the field, which is a pretty significant problem when you’re trying to develop a young pitching staff.

Morgan is far form a defensive liability. He has 743 innings between LF/RF and a career UZR of +15.4, along with 391 innings in center field and a UZR of +11.9. Those numbers are off-the-charts awesome. If Nyjer Morgan was really a +35 UZR/150 center fielder, he’d be in the conversation for the best defensive outfielder of all time.

For the Pirates, they get to try to figure out how to extract some value from Lastings Milledge who would have to take several steps forward before he was as good as Morgan is now. Can’t say I’m a fan of this move for Pittsburgh, but that’s getting to be a theme lately. The Pirates have made a series of head-scratching moves of late, and this one just continues that trend.

I like the deal for the Nationals simply because in Nyjer Morgan they get an everyday player with value who won’t embarrass himself at the plate, and they lose a major headache in Milledge who was sent to AAA after a slow start with the Nationals that saw him batting .167 after seven games.

Morgan was batting .277 (77-for-278) with six doubles, five triples, two home runs and 27 RBI in 71 games. Morgan was leading the Pirates in batting (.322, 66-for-205) against right-handed pitchers in 2009. He currently ranks fifth in the National League with 18 stolen bases, and he currently leads all MLB left fielders in total chances per 9.0 innings and range factor per game. Morgan is a great addition for the Nationals and it upgrades their speed and defense.

Sean Burnett, 26, was 1-2 with six holds, one save and a 3.06 ERA (11 ER/32.1 IP) in a team-leading 38 appearances for Pittsburgh. A two-time (2001 and 2002) Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Burnett is 7-8 with 14 holds, one save and a 4.54 ERA (81 ER/160.2 IP) in 109 games (13 starts) spanning three big league seasons with Pittsburgh. The Nationals even got the better pitcher. Burnett was having a solid season and he definitely becomes a nice weapon in the Nationals bullpen.

Joel Hanrahan, 27,  finished 0-3 with five saves (10 save opportunities) and a 7.71 ERA (28 ER/32.2 IP) in 34 appearances with the Nationals in 2009.

Seriously, I don’t know what the Pirates were thinking here…

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Mets Alumni: Lastings Milledge Demoted To Minors Tue, 14 Apr 2009 20:32:54 +0000 As reported by, the Nationals optioned center fielder Lastings Milledge to Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday. The club has not announced a corresponding move.

Milledge is off to a slow start, batting .167 (4-for-24) with one RBI, while playing mediocre defense in center.

The team had warned Milledge about a possible demotion since Opening Day. Members of the organization were upset that Milledge was late for a meeting held by manager Manny Acta the day before, and they wanted Milledge to sit out for Opening Day. Acta refused, however, so the team fined Milledge instead.

The move most likely means that Elijah Dukes will be the everyday center fielder. He is swinging a hot bat, going 8-for-21 (.381) with a home run and five RBIs in six games.

Who didn’t see this coming…

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Thoughts on the Offseason….. Fri, 14 Dec 2007 13:08:54 +0000 The Mets, right now, are in a holding pattern. Nothing has happened. Nothing. If something had happened, I’d be writing about that instead. So, as a little treat, I have compiled my thoughts of this off season and hopefully, you will find it funny.

-I’m really gonna miss Lastings Milledge and Paul Lo Duca. It seems like if you argue with an umpire and actually show some passion, then you’re gonna get kicked off the team.

-Yay! Mota’s pitching for the Brewers! This is even better than when John Franco pitched for the Astros because we get to heckle and boo Mota.

-What’s the deal with all these catchers? Is Omar banking on Schneider and Castro getting hurt? Just because we needed Mike DiFelice last year, it doesn’t mean we need him this year.

-If doing nothing is what it takes to be the GM of the Mets, then I could do the job and I’d have Dan Haren to show for it.

-We basically traded Lastings Milledge for a new jacket for Rick Peterson.

-In fact, Rick Peterson is still wearing his jacket.

-I’m going to miss Keith Hernandez calling Paulie “DeLuca.” Now who’s name is he gonna mispronounce? Schneider? Church? That’s a part of the SNY Broadcast that we’re only going to get 18 times.

-BREAKING NEWS: The Mets have just signed another catcher to a minor league contract.

-All I want for Christmas is a starting pitcher. Wait, I asked for that last year and I didn’t get it. Why bother this year?

-On the inside, we all know that David Wright is glad that A-Rod is staying in the Bronx. He came to the conclusion that “I love my 2nd baseman” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “I love my 3rd baseman.”

-I’m glad that Mota is gone, but now I have nobody to blame when the Mets lose…..wait….never mind.

-Somewhere, Mo Vaughn is having a steak dinner and saying, “Mitchell report say what?!?”

-Willie Randolph is still mourning the loss of Guillermo Mota.

-Why would we trade away Jose Reyes? Even that idiot Steve Phillips kept him around, so he must be something special.

-Can Wallace Matthews go write for the Phillies? It’s obviously a relationship that’s ment to be.

-When David Wright is upset, he watches the last game of the season. When Willie Randolph is upset, he better be watching the Phillies clinching the division, or the Red Sox winning the World Series, or better yet, he better be watching that manager in the Braves farm system. That was the best meltdown I’ve seen in a long time.

-BREAKING NEWS: Rick Peterson has taken off his jacket. The jacket will now be in the Mets starting rotation as the #2 starter.

I really hope something happens soon. This offseason is starting to look like last year’s.

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Billy Wagner May Be Right Fri, 07 Dec 2007 23:54:08 +0000 In a recent interview, Billy Wagner said that he thought the Mets were, at best, a third place team. With the Winter Meetings here and gone, and only the loss of Lastings Milledge to report, he may be right. The thing I don’t quite understand about the Milledge trade is why we couldn’t package him along with a couple other prospects, send him to Oakland, and get Dan Haren or Joe Blanton. Billy Beane may have even taken less if Milledge was in the deal. Now, the Nationals have both Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes, 2/3 of an outfield for many years to come, controversy and all.

I know what Omar has done for me, but what has Omar done for me lately? Okay, so he traded Mota and that automatically improves your team. But we have three, count ‘em, three catchers. What are on earth we going to do with three catchers, unless we inlcude either Estrada or Schneider in any hypothetical trade? We need pitching, particularly relievers, yet Omar is doing the same thing he did last year: sitting back and watching as the few available free agents sign with new teams.

With so many teams needing a pitcher, it seems the only way to acquire an ace is through a trade. It almost seems like a joke that we met with the Twins in regards to Johan Santana. Even with a package of Carlos Gomez, Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber, Jose Reyes, Keith Hernandez’s mustache, and David Wright’s tongue, the Twins still wouldn’t have budged. I think it’s silly for the Mets to try and trade for a pitcher; it seems like nobody wants our prospects, and when they do, Omar refuses to trade them away, even if the player we would be getting in return is somebody Omar expresses interest in. Some days, I want us to make a trade for an Erik Bedard or a Dan Haren or even a Johan Santana and other days I ask myself, "Why can’t we just sign Livan Hernandez and get it over with?"

The Mets don’t really even need an ace; Pedro was awesome in the month that he was back. Each outing got better and better, and it gave me hope for October, but the Gods of the Baseball World had different plans for our Mets. Realistically, we really need a solid #2 man, someone who could replace Tom Glavine and step into Pedro’s role if needed. We need a good enough bullpen to back up a starting rotation of both aging stars and rising stars. We need the old Billy Wagner back; we don’t need the Billy Wagner that blew saves for us throughout the month of September. Joe Smith needs to be that ‘pen the whole season. Give Humber a shot out of the ‘pen; it may work out.

The other thing the Mets need to remember is that getting to the playoffs is a team effort. Carlos Delgado has to actually swing at a bat next year. Carlos Beltran needs to stop complaining about only being 80-85% and go hit four home runs in two games. Jose Reyes needs to be the catalyst that he was at the beginning of the season. And Moises Alou needs to not get hurt. For much of the season, it seemed like the player carrying this team was David Wright and even though he got off to a slow start, he ended with an MVP-caliber season.

Most importantly, more than anything, Willie Randolph needs to have a meltdown. He needs to kick some dirt on a umpire, throw his hat on the ground, and yell louder than he ever has. I know that Willie thinks that baseball is a gentleman’s game and tries to keep his cool, but a meltdown can help a team. Look at the Cubs. They made the playoffs after Lou Piniella kicked dirt on that umpire. Look at the 1977 Yankees. Maybe the Braves were so good for so long because Bobby Cox argued virtually every call. I think that this off-season, Willie needs to go to the Bobby V Academy of Argument; it’ll give the Mets the spark they need.

Sure, we may disagree with Billy Wagner now but may be right, he may not be right. We all laughed at Jimmy Rollins when he said the Phillies were the team to beat. Sure, it took until September 30, but the Philthy Phils won the division. Who knows what will happen in 2008? All I know is that 2006 was definitely our year.

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Is Lastings Milledge Ready For Prime Time? Mon, 12 Nov 2007 14:06:30 +0000 In a recent poll, 58% of Mets fans don’t want the Mets to trade Milledge. I’m not exactly sure, but I bet that back in April less than half that amount would have voted to hang on to Milledge. I’m one of them.

I understand how important it is for the Mets to address their shortcomings in the bullpen and in the rotation, but trading Milledge to fill those holes may not be in the Mets’ best interest right now.

In many ways Lastings Milledge reminds me a lot of a young Jason Bay. Besides the similarities in their size and builds, their minor league career numbers and even their first cup of coffee in the major leagues are remarkably similar.

Player              AB     AVG    OBP    SLG   X-Base Hits
J. Bay             1342   .301   .391   .487      129
L. Milledge      1174   .306   .380   .480      128   

It took Jason Bay 170 more at-bats to get as many extra base hits (2B, 3B, HR) as Lastings Milledge did.

The organization traded Jason Bay in 2002 for Steve Reed and Jason Middlebrook, in an attempt to bolster their bullpen. One year later one of them would never pitch again in the majors, and the other would be waived. Jason Bay went on to win the Rookie of the Year award and become an All Star.

Lets not make that same mistake again.

What makes Milledge even more remarkable than Jason Bay is that Milledge was called up at the age of 21, a full two years before Jason Bay made his debut. Milledge put up his lofty minor league numbers by being the youngest player at each level as he moved along from A to AAA.

Milledge can be just as good a player as Carlos Beltran is today. He has the speed, the arm, the bat, and the glove to be a complete player. He may have looked pretty shaky in right field last season, but it was the first time he played a position other than center field in his career. Remember when he filled in at center field for the injured Carlos Beltran and you saw him make those two spectacular diving catches? That was the real lastings Milledge.

I opened this post with the question, "Is Lastings Milledge Ready For Prime Time?"

The answer is an emphatic yes!

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2007 Mets Report Cards: Center Field, Right Field Sun, 14 Oct 2007 22:25:53 +0000

The final of the outfielders will be reviewed tonight. We’re short one staff member, but he’ll be back to review on Tuesday. Carlos Beltran, Lastings Milledge, Marlon Anderson and Shawn Green will all be reviewed in this blog. Here we go!

Center Field (Carlos Beltran) 

Ryan P. – Carlos Beltran played a great 2007. He hit for power and average, much like his season in 2006. He had more at-bats this year and played a phenomenal defense. There wasn’t that one streak where Carlos was struggling. If someone else on the team was, however, he would try and pick up the team. His numbers are there, he just needs to raise his average up a bit. If he does, he’ll be a legit candidate at MVP, that’s if, David Wright doesn’t get it.

Grade: A 

Joe D. – Despite the sore knees and other assorted injuries, Carlos Beltran delivered another solid season for the New York Mets, belting 33 homeruns and driving in 112 runs. It was the second consecutive time that Beltran topped the century mark in RBI’s, and the second straight season he has eclipsed the 30 HR mark. He also caused some havoc on the basepaths and swiped 23 bases including third base 5 times. Besides his potent bat, Beltran played stellar defense and led all centerfielders in range factor with a 2.87 unseating the 5 year reigning champ Andruw Jones. He was recently selected as the Best Centerfield Arm by Baseball America. He is also one of the few free agents in Mets history to have the best seasons of his career while playing for the Mets.

Grade: A

Brian M. – Carlos Beltran produced across all aspects of the game in 2007. He provided power (33HR), speed (23SB), average (.273), OBP (.353), and of course gold glove defense with only 5 errors. Beltran did struggle at times on offense as he is a streaky player. However, defense and speed do not slump and he contributed game after game in center field making highlight reel catches and turning adventurous hits into routine outs. Overall, par for the course in 2007. Lastings Milledge improved in his second year with the Mets finishing .272/.341/.446. Yet as a center fielder, Milledge hit .340 with a .386 OBP.  Lastings also made a few run saving plays in replacement of Beltran.

Grade: A 

Andrew V. – Carlos Beltran, what can I say.  He is one of the most consistent hitters on the team, with power, speed, and one of the best gloves on the team.  He battles through injuries, which may be a good thing or a bad thing.  He gets hurt a lot, but still seems to hit 25 homers and knock in around 100 RBI’s year after year.  His defense is spectacular.  Sans a few game span where he just didn’t play well at all, he has gold glove caliber skill, and is deserving of one.  One of my favorite players on the team, even though he is not vocal towards the team.  He is a quiet guy, silently putting up good numbers at the plats and good numbers in the field. 

Grade: A 

Jon C. – Beltran, when he’s heatlhy, is a solid center fielder. He plays the position so flawlessly and covers so much ground. A lot of you get on me when I call him out for not playing hard and milking his injuries. But, the truth is, it bugs me that he’s not a leader and doesn’t play hurt(Milledge filled in admirably). LoDuca does. Alou does. Delgado tries to. He puts himself over the team, and that bothers me. Having said that, I have to digress. Few Mets were leaders on this team and at the end of the year, Beltran put up the numbers at a position not known for power numbers so much- he just wasn’t nearly as clutch.

Grade: B+ 

Right Field (Shawn Green, Lastings Milledge, Marlon Anderson) 

Ryan P. – I admit, right field wasn’t the brightest spot for the Mets. Yeah, it wasn’te ven close. However, Shawn Green made it look good in early April. He was hitting like he was in Toronto in the early 00′s. He was hitting for clutch like he was, in the early 00′s. But, once he got hurt, *poof*, it just went away. Enter Lastings Milledge. Milledge was on fire in late July into early August. But like most of the Mets, that fire faded, and it faded fast. He had an average around .310 by early August, but that average dropped to below .275 before the season ended. He had attitude problems and even had a major blow up that suspended him. If he wants to start for the Mets in the next coming years, he’s going to need a major makeover. Enter Marlon Anderson. Sure, he didn’t play alot of the field, but he can sure deliver off the bench. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s staying with the Mets. He was amazing and clutch even providing a few late inning sparks. Most in what the Mets really needed. Without him, the Mets would’ve lost even more games.

Grade: C+

Joe D. – When the season first started, Shawn Green gave the Mets a hot bat at the bottom of the order. By the time June rolled around his bat had cooled and he landed on the DL with an injury. When he returned, his play in the field and his performance at the plate was so bad, that he finally lost his everyday job and went into a strict platoon with Lastings Milledge. Milledge had his moments, and showed some flashes of brilliance, but the bottom line was that he continued to lose focus in the field and on the basepaths. His play became so frustrating that by September Shawn Green worked his way back into playing almost everyday. It was a confusing year at rightfield for the Mets, and the overall production from a position that is supposed to provide solid offense, ended up being disappointing.

Grade: C

Brian M. – Shawn Green started at a torrid pace hitting .355 in April. However, he fell back to Earth in May and was eventually placed in a platoon with Lastings Milledge post All-star break. In September he was an integral part of the offense’s revival playing against righthanders and hit .407. If he feels comfortable continuing his career as a role player perhaps he has carved out a future with the NY Mets in 2008. Lastings had his ups and downs yet improved off of 2006 to hit .272. As a right fielder Milledge hit lower however, finishing the year at .239. Not a great year for right field.

Grade: D 

Andrew V. – Shawn Green had such an up and down season.  When he was hot, he was smokin’, and when he was cold, he was ice cold.  He finally started to give up swinging for home runs, and started going with pitches and ripping doubles all over the place.  His defense is not the best, but it’s so much fun to watch his hat fly off almost every play.  Green also has a secret weapon in the field with a great arm.  Milledge will be good.  Key word there is "will."  He’s young.  Give him time to mature, learn how to hit a breaking ball, and realize how to get under pop ups isn’t too hard, and he’ll be a great player.  His attitude is a little brash, but that doesn’t mean its all bad.  He’s no Milton Bradley, so I like his energy and tenacity.  Marlon Anderson is the man off the bench.  What great late inning heroics from him.  Please let us resign him.

Grade: B- 

Jon C. – Shawn Green did a lot better than we expected him to do this year – let’s be honest. Still, he was a bench player in a full-time role. Milledge proved he could be a starti
ng outfielder, but Willie kept him on the bench for the most part. So you had a bench player playing full-time and a full-time player being a bench player – which makes this grade difficult. Throw in Endy who didn’t do much at all, and the Mets had a very erratic right field spot this year – thanks to Willie. Bottomline: You need more power from the right field spot, they should’ve played Milledge every day when he came back from the injury. My gut tells me though – Milledge will be #1 trade bait this winter. It’d be a mistake. I was sour on him in the beginning, but I’m convinced this team is better with him in RF.

Grade: B


Yeah, we were short a guy, but that’s alright. It is Sunday you know. Anyways, a pretty much positive review of Carlos Beltran was obvious. However, a mysterious right field puzzled us all. We weren’t sure what to expect from this never ending revolving door. With a few crazy games in right field, we’re not even sure what’s going to happen next year. 

Tuesday is a big day. We’re gonna review Starting Pitching. Oh boy, this is gonna get interesting. 

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Heilman & Wagner: All Fired Up, and Last Word On Lastings! Sat, 17 Feb 2007 15:00:11 +0000 It feels so good to have baseball back again. I have to admit it was a pretty long and boring offseason for Met fans, especially when we were left with the memory of that awful game 7 in our heads! Blah! They say the best thing to do after you fall off your horse, is to get back on again. Well, unfortunately for Met fans, the season ended and we haven’t been able to get back on that horse until now. And man, I gotta say that whoever came up with that stupid saying, was absolutely right! I’m completely recovered from 2006 and I am totally stoked for the new season.

There’s so much stuff coming out of Mets camp today and it’s only the second full day of spring training! First and foremost in my mind though, is our catcher Paul LoDuca.

Paul LoDuca has made it known that he would love a contract extension that will allow him to finish his career with the New York Mets. LoDuca, who will turn 35 in April, is entering the final season of a three-year deal that will pay him $6.25 million this season. He hit a team-leading .318 last year with five home runs and 49 RBIs, helping New York win the NL East for the first time since 1988.

Among his other contributions, LoDuca instantly became one of the leaders in the clubhouse after joining the team, and was a driving force and steady influence when he was on the field. He was also largely credited for leading an injury plagued pitching staff to a 4.14 ERA, that was ranked third best in the league.

Considering the fact that he was bedeviled with personal problems as well as a lingering thumb injury all season long, I have to credit him for gutting it out and helping the Mets win their first division title in over a decade.

There was also some other crazy story about Aaron Heilman being totally pissed off because he didn’t get one of the 12 reserved parking spots at Tradition Field. Poor Heilman, he never seems to get what he wants. I think Omar should give him a free pass to Disney World so he could go to the Magic Kingdom, where all your dreams can come true.

Meanwhile, Billy Wagner sounded like a man on a mission when he showed up. He vows to have a better season in 2007 and blamed some of his poor outings on nagging injuries. He said that this year he plans on bringing back the "old Billy Wagner." Somebody let me know when he gets here, I really miss the old Billy Wagner. Between me and you, I was quite pleased with Wagner’s performance last year. Sure he had a few too many blown saves, but when I think of Benitez and Looper, I suddenly remember how thankful I am that Wags is our closer.

Hey, I didn’t mean to go off on Milledge the way that I did yesterday, but I had to get it off of my chest. There’s nothing that disappoints me more than a guy with a million dollars worth of talent and a dime’s worth of common sense.  Milledge is one of the most exciting young talents in the game. He has one of the highest ceilings of anyone in the organization.

I guess if he didn’t have the personal problems early on he may never have fallen to the Mets with pick number 12, when everyone expected him to be a "Top 5" pick in the 2003 draft. I wonder if the Mets ever regret passing on players like Chad Cordero, Carlos Quentin, Brandon Wood, and Chad Billingsley, when they selected Milledge. OK, I’m gonna shut up now, before I get into more trouble. I’m just mad because the Mets have invested so much in Milledge, and it’s time for him to give the team some payback. Even though he was drafted 12th we paid him like he was drafted number one overall, and gave him a $1.9 million dollar signing bonus to boot. I’m not saying he has to be the poster child for the Boys Club of America, I’m just saying, smarten’ up dude, and lets play ball.

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It’s Time For Milledge To Make A “Lastings” Impression! Fri, 16 Feb 2007 23:40:28 +0000 One of the Mets newest beat writers, John Delcos, kick-started a small firestorm on his blog, when he wrote the following…

David Wright has been in the area for a couple of weeks now, “because I want to get acclimated to things.” He said it is something he’s always done and plans to do throughout his career.

On the other hand, Lastings Milledge, whose image needs an overhaul, is nowhere to be found. In fairness, he doesn’t have to be here until next week, but one would think considering his acclimation problems last summer, he’d make the effort to show up early.

Many of his readers including myself, had much to say about the blog in his comments, but I was surprised at how many Met fans jumped down his throat and called his post a personal attack. There seems to be a growing minority that believes that the media wrongfully miscast Milledge as someone who is in need of a serious attitude adjustment.

Well, excuse me! Before people start blaming the media for all of the bad press about Lastings Milledge, they should first stop and look at the facts. Even before donning a Mets uniform, Milledge had run-ins with the law and was forced to go into a juvenile protection program to avoid prosecution for sexual misconduct. He was also expelled from his high school for "“inappropriate behavior”. Originally expected to be one of the top picks in the MLB Draft, concerns about his character as well as his troubled past, allowed him to fall all the way down to the New York Mets.

Since joining the Mets, he has made no attempt to polish his image, instead he has cast himself under even more scrutiny. Let’s not forget how he showed the other team up when he paraded down the field giving high-fives to the fans after hitting his first homerun. Shortly after that, on national television, he was seen by everyone turning his back and walking away from Willie Randolph who was giving him an earful for his lack of hustle earlier in the inning. In fact on several occasions, you could see how infuriated Willie Randolph was the young rookie last season. Lets also not forget that it was his own teammates, and NOT the media that hung a sign over his locker that read “Know Your Place Rook.”

I’m sorry, but the media did not create any of that stuff. The media did not script any of those events. The media did not prompt him to do any of those things. Lastings Milledge did them all on his own. He has nobody else but himself to blame for his bad image. The reporters are guilty of only one thing, doing their job. What Milledge did was newsworthy and they reported on it because that is their job.

So when a reporter like John Delcos wonders out loud why Milledge isn’t in camp early, it is completely justified. I wondered the same thing myself. You would think that someone would have told Milledge that if he wanted to begin to repair his image, he could start by showing up to camp early with a big smile and lot’s of enthusiasm. It’s not an unreasonable thought. Jose Reyes and David Wright are both in camp a week early. They have a passion for the game and a love of the team they play for. They understand how lucky and how privileged they are to be playing such a wonderful game. They get it. Lastings does not.

So now, like it or not, we are stuck with Milledge. As Met fans we should root for the guy and hope for the best. We have no other alternative. His value is so low, that the best we could get for him in the off season was a washed up reliever or a decent hitting 4th outfielder. He was usually talked about as the throw-in to a deal and not the substance of the deal.

I just wish that someone on the team would take him under his wing and help him become the star that the Mets thought he could be when they drafted him. There is no denying his talent. He can be one of the best homegrown outfielders the Mets have ever had if he can just get his act together. He can’t do it by himself, he needs his teammates to be behind him. Right now, it doesn’t seem like they are, but these Mets are not just great baseball players, they are also a great bunch of guys. If Milledge takes one small step towards repairing his relationship with the team, they will embrace him and support him in a heartbeat.

The ball is in Lastings’ court now. He has two choices… he can either pass it, or take the shot. I hope he does the latter. He still has a chance to make a great "Lastings" impression.

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