Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Other Side

With the trade fresh in our minds, I exchanged questions with DJ Short of the always informative MetsBlog. I was especially curious about these so-called "attitude problems", which from the outside seemed more a function of middle-aged white men being shocked that a black kid would have a rap album with (gasp!) bawdy lyrics. Is he a bad teammate?

I'm an admitted Milledge apologist, but it doesn't change the fact that these events happened. I mean, the guy barely played here (115 games in parts of two seasons) and I can think of several incidents off the top of my head. Whether it's missing the bus and arriving late for a game in Philadelphia, the infamous 'Know Your Place, Rook' incident with his teammates, the rap song, getting suspended for three games in the final weeks of the 07' season, or, oh yeah, ticking off the Marlins in the final weekend of the 07' season, which may have been the impetus needed for the butt-kicking the Mets took in the final game of the season. I do think the media had it out for him from the get-go, but you can't ignore the decisions he had complete control over. He has all the talent in the world, but as Milledge once said, 'he needs to get his grown man on.'

It's definitely a bit more than I had thought. Many of these, though, seem to fall more in the youthful exuberance category. And besides, if Billy Wagner and Paul LoDuca hate you, you're probably a pretty good person. (That's also known as the Kent Corollary)

I asked about his defense. He played center in the minors, but was blocked in the majors by Carlos Beltran.
He rarely played center in his time with the Mets -- only 14 games -- because of Beltran, so it's hard to gauge him fairly. I remember him making a few highlight reel-type catches in center this past season, but under further examination, it was due to poor jumps on balls. He has a good arm, but he often forgets and/or ignores the cut-off man, or he misses his target entirely. The tools are certainly there, but he is still pretty raw.

Milledge claims that he had a hard time in learning the corners in the majors because of the different angles to the ball. We'll find out. The new park has a much smaller CF to cover, so that should help.

What about his focus? Does he have the drive to maximize those tools?
Without question, I think he does. He just needs a fair shake. Given an everyday job, I'm sure he could flourish. Washington is an ideal situation for a player like him, as much as I hate to say it. He has one of the quickest bats I have seen in a while. The ball just jumps off his bat.

What about the reaction in NY? It seems universally loathed. Is this going to change the perception of Omar Minaya?
Time will tell. Today, he is not very popular. If he gets Bedard or Haren next week, things will change.

Milledge probably had greater value in the heads of Mets fans than he did on the trade market for a pitcher, but there is good reason for that. After the Kazmir trade, we did not want to be burned again. And we waited a long time for Milledge to get a shot. I mean, we heard rumors about Milledge for just about everyone under the sun including Manny Ramirez and we were still hesitant to see the kid go.

He endeared himself to many Mets fans by hitting his first major league home run in the bottom of the ninth off the hated Armando Benitez. Moments later, when he returned to the outfield for extra-innings, he high-fived the fans down the right-field line. The fans -- mostly young ones-- loved it, while by-and-large the media, talk show hosts and veteran players criticized him for it. It was all downhill from there.

This deal is not on the level of Kazmir, it's impossible, because position players are more replaceable, but it will hurt to see Milledge punish the Mets over the next few years. I'm sure there are a number of Mets fans who would rather have Milledge and Flores rather than Schneider and Church.

Good stuff, as always!

I took a few cracks at some of his questions, trying to assuage some of the fears of Mets fans. If you want some of that spin, check it out.


  • Well, if we can turn around a man who abused his wife, we can probably right his ship. We just have to hope that Manny's friendship gives him additional leverage.

    By Blogger Michael Taylor, at 12/01/2007 10:06 AM  

  • Personally, I love the high-five the crowd bit. Shows me he's excited and is having fun, something that baseball players could show more of from time to time.

    I have this weird feeling the Church could blow up this year, and then we're all gonna feel really weird. Except for Nats320, he'll just be pissed.

    ps- thanks for linking us (natsreport) a couple days ago, our traffic asploded.

    By Blogger (j)on, at 12/01/2007 10:48 AM  

  • As long as Lastings doesn't impede Dmitri or Ray King on their way to the post-game buffet I can't see him running afoul of the "veterans" on this team. And his HR celebration angered the other team? That's certainly not a problem we ever had with Nook.

    By Blogger Nate, at 12/01/2007 10:52 AM  

  • Isn't the post-game buffet vegetarian now? I remember reading somewhere that at least one of the meals they have was switched to complete vegetarian.

    By Blogger Michael Taylor, at 12/01/2007 10:55 AM  

  • The "healthy" options were the brainchildren of Brian Schneider and John Patterson.

    Good riddance to once! WE WANT SKITTLES DAMMIT!!!!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 12/01/2007 11:18 AM  

  • We better hope Patterson's healthy and in the clubhouses. Otherwise da Meat Hook is gonna pack the pounds back on again..

    By Blogger Michael Taylor, at 12/01/2007 12:11 PM  

  • Good post, Chris. As for Milledge's supposed "attitude" issues, Busterblog (tm) had this to say this morning:

    An AL GM noted that Washington manager Manny Acta had firsthand experience with Milledge, having been a Mets coach at the time that Milledge broke into the big leagues. "He's going to know all the behind-the-scenes stories about Milledge, and yet he's not afraid of taking him on," said the GM. "What does that tell you?"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/01/2007 12:38 PM  

  • So how does this trade affect your "Jones or Bust" position?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/01/2007 1:49 PM  

  • Well, the 'bust' part was in reference to the other FA options.

    I'll be happy with Milledge in center next year.

    I'd also be happy with Andruw if Bowden can re-flip Milledge for Danny Haren! ;)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 12/01/2007 1:53 PM  

  • A lot of Mets fans I know are pissed at Minaya - this is a move that reminds me of the stuff he pulled in Montreal.

    As a guy who lives in the Washington-Baltimore area, I just think the Nationals committed highway robbery (of course, granting Milledge becomes what most think he'll be). Obviously, both Church and Schneider fill immediate needs, but was it worth giving up part of the future for? Nationals fans here are in mourning, but they don't know the deal they got...

    I just think that Lastings was not given a chance up there; however, you can do only do so many things to piss the brass in New York before you're sent on your way.

    Church and Schneider, although good guys are replaceable...

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12/01/2007 2:45 PM  

  • As anyone who remembers the Expos back when Minaya was GM, those trades were done under much different circumstances.

    Minaya is not trying to blow up the Mets farm system, nor is it anything close to a Kazmir deal. This was just an opportunity for the Mets to solidify themselves at two positions for 2008. I have a feeling the Mets will doubt this one long term, but a corner outfielder is replaceable. Beltran will be with the club in CF for a while still....

    Another thing -- the Mets didn't like Estrada. They traded for him just to dump Mota. They will non-tender him if they can't trade him.

    It's nowhere near as bad a trade as people are making it out to be, but the Nationals got the most talented player in the trade.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/01/2007 6:06 PM  

  • The biggest steal in Washington since Bush v. Gore.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/01/2007 7:52 PM  

  • I just gotta say, i don't mind Nats320. I think it's an informative blog-about stuff concerning the Nats OFF the baseball diamond that is.

    Although his heart's in the right place, When SBF and his regular band of merry commenters start talking the nuts and bolts of actual baseball (such as this trade), watch out. You might find yourself rubbing your temples and muttering bad words at your computer screen.

    For crying out loud, baseball is first and foremost a business, and this guy's talking about having his "heart broken" and that he needs time to figure out what he thinks about this trade? Gimme a break.

    Sorry, off my soapbox now.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/01/2007 8:17 PM  

  • I'm hoping for younger, livlier arms than Livan's at this stage of his career. But--from a Bill Ladson article-- why would a major league average pitcher be "cost prohibitive" to the Nats? Is that a leak from the FO?

    "In terms of starting pitching, Livan Hernandez has said he would like to play for Washington again, but he may prove to be cost prohibitive for the Nats."

    Hopefully, the Nats can wisely expand the payroll, with a view toward the future. Maybe that's where payroll expansion will take place.

    By Blogger EdDC, at 12/02/2007 10:13 AM  

  • I don't think there are enough taco bars in D.C. to handle both Ray King and Livan Hernandez.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/02/2007 10:11 PM  

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