Opinion: So Long, Lastings Milledge

i believe the Mets will eventually regret trading Lastings Milledge, because, while he has his flaws, i feel he can be the type of exciting, better-than-average player a team in new york will wish it had…frankly, i suspect the Mets know they’ll regret it…that being said, i am okay with this trade, and understand why it was made…

…yet, most fans are reacting to this deal in a very extreme way, as though the Mets just traded Jose Reyes and David Wright for my grandmother…and again, i’m a fan of milledges, and have defended him a lot on this blog…but, i’m reading fan-generated headlines like, ‘Another black friday,’ and ‘I feel betrayed,’ and likening this deal to Scott Kazmir, which is surprising to me…

Minaya, during his conference call yesterday…

“I’m not worried.  I’ve been through this before when we traded Kris Benson.  Fans couldn’t quite understand that at the time.  When you’re the general manager, you do take that into account, but you’ve got to understand when you’re in my job, there are certain things, decisions have to be made.  The beauty of our sport, a lot of people follow our game, they follow our moves.  When we traded Kris Benson, a lot of fans didn’t understand that at the time, but here we are with John Maine today.”

As Mark Healey writes at Gotham Baseball Magazine, ‘The reality is that Minaya didn’t have room on his roster for a .280 hitter with limited power and a reputation for annoying his teammates and manager.’

fans are crucifying omar for not valuing milledge properly, and for giving up on him too early, at 23 years old, yet he did not trade him for Barry Zito, Manny Ramirez, and who knows who else, over the last two seasons, because the Mets and minaya had faith that milledge would develop, i.e., they stuck with him, despite having several chances to trade him for quality, proven talent…the Mets believed that milledge would blossom…and he still may…they’re just not going to wait around any longer to see, which is a new philosophy among the league’s younger GMs, i.e., cut bait after early signs of failure, i guess

from what i can gather, the Mets determined that, considering there is tremendous pressure to win this coming season, it was not worth gambling on milledge, who has yet to develop at the rate the team had hoped he would develop…it appears that they still have a lot of concern about a) milledge’s inability to lay off the breaking ball, which he has a hard time hitting, b) his instincts, at the plate, on the base paths and especially in the field, c) the rap album, a strong on-field ego, a casual work ethic, etc, and d) his health, since he had suffered a serious injury during three of the last four seasons… 

…frankly, i sense that milledge sealed his fate when he got ejected for three games in the middle of the pennant race last season for arguing with the umpire, and then helped instigate an on-field fight during the last two days of the season, by flipping his bat and jogging after a home run, when the team should have only been focused on winning…

…personally, i feel a lot of the above concerns can be chalked up to his age and inexperience…i assume he will grow beyond this in the years to come…frankly, i like the entertainment, so, while i hope he grows up, i also hope he stays true to who he is because it’s fun to watch…also, for what it’s worth, i think omar feels the same way, but he just can’t wait any longer, considering the pressure to win right now…

…so, in return for milledge, who the Mets apparently wanted to move, but who could not return any sort of pitcher in a trade, instead, the Mets acquired a 29–year-old, under-contract outfielder, who has a strong arm, good instincts, has had some consistent success in the majors, can hit a ton of doubles, bats lefty and hits righties; and they also acquired a stable, 31–year-old, every-day catcher with experience leading a young pitching staff and who is known for his defense and throwing out runners at second…

…it’s not the ideal trade, obviously…the thing is, i think i feel this way because, in my mind, milledge is still worthy of zito, or manny, or Dan Haren, since that is how he had been framed over the last few seasons…the fact is, though, he is no longer able to return that type of pitcher, or any type of pitcher, it would seem…

…so, since i do not have a time machine, the question i am left with is, should the Mets have traded milledge now or would they have been better served just keeping him and hoping he developed in to an all-star…personally, i’m not comfortable making that assessment, since i never claim to be a scout or Nostradamus…i know some bloggers, reporters and fans believe they are smarter than the professionals, but i have never been one to make that leap…i mean, if i was that smart i would be a scout, not a blogger, i suppose…and so, the Mets determined it was time to move milledge, which, like i said, i think they’ll come to regret…for now, though, given their current needs, i can understand why the move was made, even though i am totally happy about it…




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