Milledge Nor Gomez

MetsBlog pointed out a John Sickels post designed to elicit traffic and response — he states that the Mets have unnecessarily rushed Carlos Gomez and suggests that it may negatively affect the youngster’s long-term prospects.

Mostly, I agree with Sickels’ analysis — I do believe that Gomez had no business being in MLB last year, and that he needs at least another full year at a lower level to develop his batting skills. However, I also think that the Mets had few choices other than promoting Gomez at the time — it was in the midst of losing Shawn Green, Moises Alou, Lastings Milledge, Ben Johnson, and Endy Chavez to injury (did I miss someone?). At the time, it seemed a fine idea to bring up Gomez and give him a taste of the bigs, and in my opinion it was the right move. But, Gomez should never have found his way into nearly 60 games — a two week stint should have been enough of a “taste”, followed by a return to AA or AAA to get back to the learning process outside the pressure cooker. Of course, part of the “problem” (if you want to call it that) was that Gomez started off with a bang, going 5 for his first 13 and then, after tailing off, he remained just productive enough to not be an encumbrance on the team. During that time, he showed occasional flashes of stardom that kept everyone thinking, “hey, maybe he IS ready for prime time”. In hindsight, Gomez was overmatched, though he did show the ability to adjust. Ideally, he might have been better off taking his lumps in AA and learning to dominate rather than simply survive.

Similarly, Lastings Milledge still hasn’t convinced me that he is ready for the bigs, though he proved to be much more productive with the bat. But that’s where it ended — yes, Milledge was a much better hitter than Gomez, and you could argue that he was more effective than Shawn Green. Overall, though, Milledge was not up to snuff when it came to baserunning, defense, and situational hitting. Like Gomez, Milledge’s shortcomings were not enough to be an encumbrance to the team, and his hitting streaks overshadowed them. Interesting, isn’t it, that Gomez’s stellar defense and incredible speed weren’t enough to make us forget his paltry hitting, but Milledge’s bat erased all of his negatives? But that’s baseball — if you can hit, there’s a place for you.

Because of his immature offensive skills, most are in agreement that Carlos Gomez should start 2008 in the minors. In contrast, because it appears that Lastings Milledge can do some damage with the bat, most agree he should walk into spring training as the Mets’ starting rightfielder. I’m not so sure I agree, for two reasons. First, Milledge needs more time to polish his all-around game. The offensive-minded fans and the statheads like to glaze over “small issues” such as taking the wrong route to a ball, overthrowing the cutoff man, throwing to the wrong base, baserunning mistakes, etc., but guess what — those are the types of things that lose ballgames. And if Milledge continues to make those mistakes, but doesn’t hit enough to overcome them, then wouldn’t it make sense for him to spend more time in a place where he can make those mistakes and learn from them?

Here’s the thing — Lastings did hit pretty well, for a while, in the second half of last season. But he didn’t show enough, to me, to suggest that his offense would overwhelm his defensive and fundamental issues. I don’t see him hitting .300+ with 25+ homers. In fact, I see someone who will hit about .280 with maybe 10-15 HRs. Not bad, but not great. What bothers me is that if he does have that kind of year in the bigs, does that become his ceiling? Might he have a better 2009, 2010, and beyond if he improves his overall game and has a standout offensive season in AAA? As with Gomez, I’d rather see Milledge have chance to dominate at a lower level, and fully develop all of his skills, rather than shortcut his maturity and build enough of his ability to survive in MLB. Lastings Milledge has the raw athleticism to one day develop into a good to excellent all-around ballplayer. Force-feeding him to the bigs may instead set his mold as something less — such as a one-dimensional offensive player.

As with most things, I’m probably wrong — Lastings Milledge may be ripe for a breakout year in 2008 and become the power-hitting Gary Sheffield-type outfielder everyone’s been promised (even if he’s never hit more than 15 homers in a minor league season). But if I’m right, wouldn’t it make sense to pick up a stopgap outfielder for ’08, and allow both Milledge and Gomez a pressure-free year to develop at their own pace? Wouldn’t the Mets be better off with a “sure thing” veteran, or two-man platoon, that would hit about what we think Milledge will but also bring a complete game to the table? There are free agents available, so it wouldn’t be necessary to trade away prospects. For example, how about a two-headed rightfield comprised of Shannon Stewart and Luis Gonzalez? Or Trot Nixon and Reggie Sanders? What about bringing in someone like Brady Clark to platoon with Endy Chavez and Marlon Anderson? Travis Lee, Brad Wilkerson, Preston Wilson, and Ryan Klesko are all available for short-term deals, and all offer decent production over 350-400 at-bats. There’s also Ben Johnson to consider — the guy who was supposed to be the stopgap in 2007. I think a combination of Johnson and Travis Lee would compare offensively to the best Milledge will do in ’08, but also provide better defense, situational hitting, and baserunning instincts.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s exactly what Omar Minaya is planning — a stopgap solution for rightfield — because one or both of Milledge and Gomez will be dealt for pitching before this winter ends. If so, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. After all, we haven’t even brought up the name Fernando Martinez.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude November 25, 2007 at 3:13 pm
    Joe: although I can see where you’re coming from, I can’t say I agree whole-heartedly. I agree that Milledge is more ready for major league starting time than Gomez, and that Carlos best belongs in AAA (where he only has 140 atbats hitting .286) so he can refine his offensive game. But your dilemma revolves around whether Milledge deserves to start simply based on the notion that he’s further developed than Gomez. If the argument were that easy, I’d say no, that Milledge either belongs in the minors or on another team and we should find a better option for RF. But it’s far more complicated than that. Take for example what’s going on in LF. Alou is already a stop-gap, because I don’t see him being retained past 2008 regardless of whether he hits .340 again or not. So if a one-year platoon situation is created in RF that doesn’t include Milledge, and Alou is adios after ’08, then Milledge and Gomez both become everyday starters next year with very little major league experience heading into 2009 (barring them being included in any trades, of course). There are many solutions to amend that problem, like signing a big OF free agent next offseason or trading Milledge or Gomez along with another prospect for a big OF, but why further complicate what’s already likely to be a very busy 2008 winter meetings. Remember, Delgado, Pedro, El Duque and Estrada, along with Alou, will all be free agents, and Heilman, Perez, and Feliciano will all be arbitration eligible. With all those holes potentially needing to be filled, it may be best to stick to the plan of Milledge in RF.

    Another thing that crosses my mind of having Milledge play in AAA is that he really has nothing left to prove there. 3 of the last 4 years in the minors he’s hit over .300, including .342 last year, while his OBP, SLG, and OPS percentages have all shown a steady ascension. I agree, his routes to flyballs need work, and his ability to hit the cut off man needs improvement, and his baserunning skills should be more consistent. But all of these things can be worked out on the major league level, with fellow major leaguers to tell him what he’s doing right and wrong, all the while hitting a solid .270-.280 with 15-20 dingers from the 7th spot in the lineup. I know the “little things” are what seperate the great from the good, but not every player on your team can be perfect. Not every starter will do the “little things” right. But what you hope for is the right mix of raw talent and field smarts. Talent cannot be taught, and there’s no question Milledge has that. If he can be progressively taught to also be smart, well then we have a great player. So in my opinion, I think Milledge can develop his all-around game quicker on the Mets rather than in AAA, and that the mistakes he makes while learning will be justified by his ability to contribute with the stick.

    I also agree that there are many lefty/righty platoon scenarios available this offseason, but all of those players you mentioned come with their own sets of flaws. Gonzo can’t throw. Sanders is never healthy (and only wants to play on the West Coast). Travis Lee last saw significant OF playing time in 2000. Brad Wilkerson’s strikeout propencity is Rob Deer-esque. Additionaly, it’s assumed all these guys are cool with the idea of being signed for just one year, knowing a job takeover by a hot-hitting Milledge or Gomez is just a bad April away. I say we’ve come this far with Milledge, now let’s see what he can do. Give him his 450-500 at-bats and let him show us why we took him so high in the draft. Again, the little things may get in the way from time to time, but most other teams will be looking at his impressive offensive stats come next offseason if the Mets are looking to swing a deal. If nothing else, giving him a full season in RF does wonders for his trade value, especially if he lives up to expectations.

  2. joe November 25, 2007 at 4:23 pm
    Here’s where I disagree:

    1. Milledge DOES have something to prove at AAA. He has not had a full season above AA. His .342 average last year was in 19 games — not much of a sample — and spread across at-bats played in Rookie, A, AA, and AAA (interesting, he had half as many at-bats as Gomez in the minors in ’07). His only extended experience at the AAA level came in 2006, when he played in 84 games, got 300 ABs, and hit .277 with 7 HRs. To me that’s impressive for a 21-year-old, but it’s not enough to tell me he’s ready for prime time.

    2. He won’t learn the “little things” at the Major League level. Either his mistakes will be overlooked because he’s hitting, or he’ll be riding the bench because his bat isn’t enough to make up for the mistakes.

    Maybe I simply don’t see the excitement around Milledge that everyone else does. To me, he’s a raw kid with Major League bat speed but not much else (yet). He hasn’t yet shown he can use the bat speed to hit for a high average or for consistent power. He hasn’t shown any discipline nor potential for above-average OBP. He hasn’t shown any ability to turn his above-average running speed to his advantage. He has at times shown a strong arm, but clearly doesn’t know what to do with it most of the time. Again, if he comes out hitting like Gary Sheffield then we’ll forget about the rest — but I’m not seeing it.

    Probably I wouldn’t be making such a big deal out of all this if not for the fact that I watched the Atlanta Braves dominate the NL East for 14 years doing little else other than executing. Since the Mets don’t appear to be putting out as strong an offense as they’ve had in the past two years, the fundamentals suddenly become more glaring an issue. And though the sabermetricians will find numbers against me, I feel that Carlos Gomez might win more games with his glove, arm, baserunning, and mediocre hitting than Milledge will with his superior bat and mediocrity in all other areas. But the bottom line is, both need more seasoning, and it might be best to find a stopgap for at least a half season.

    Further, I think it would behoove the Mets to keep Milledge of the mindset that he has to prove himself — possibly by bringing in a fringe veteran. He appears to react favorably from outside motivation. I’d like to see him have to win the job in ST and/or have to plow through AAA for a few months to earn RF. He looked impressive at times in his 184 ABs last year, but didn’t (to me) make a rock-solid case to be an ’08 starter.

    And yes, I know Milledge “won” the job in ST last year only to see Shawn Green start the season. However, Green had proven himself over the previous 10 years, and had earned Willie’s respect and trust during September and October of ’06. I think it would be a different situation if an outsider — who has no previous ties with Willie — came in to fight for a job. A guy like Wilkerson or Lee might be ideal, because both of those guys are at a point in their career where AAA, an outright release, or trade to another team are all viable and realistic options. Or at minimum, make it clear that Ben Johnson has a legitimate shot to win the job.

  3. isuzudude November 25, 2007 at 6:05 pm
    i tried to post a reply to this story but when i clicked on submit comment, the text i had written just disappeared. this is now the second time it’s happened to me. i’m not sure what the problem is, but i’m wondering if other people are having it to. i think to be safe, from now on, i’ll copy whatever i write before i submit so that i won’t lose everything i write.
  4. joe November 25, 2007 at 6:44 pm
    You must have written something that went against my opinion.


    Just kidding. Actually that’s not cool, and I’d like to fix the issue. What browser do you use? IE? Firefox? Safari? Something else? Did you try to get the text back by using the back button?

  5. Micalpalyn November 25, 2007 at 6:51 pm
    isu wins..Joe you sipped toooo much Willie Koool aid:

    At some point the player must LEAVE the minors. Millz WON the RF job last yr in Spring trng and really his loss alone could have cost the playoffs:

    To paraphrase an article earlier which was saying 3 CFers won gold gloves, CF is the easiest OF position to play as everything is in front of you. Millz will be fine.

  6. isuzudude November 25, 2007 at 7:37 pm
    I use IE. I tried the back button but it was still gone. I notice that it occurs with more frequency the longer the post I write gets. I suppose I can paraphrase what I wrote.

    1. Quality vs quantity. I think Milledge is major league ready because he’s performed well at all stages of the minors, regardless of sample size, whereas you think everyone needs at least one year of seasoning at AAA to ready themselves for the big time. Not saying any side is right, just that we may see things differently.

    2. I’m not sure it’s fair to say Milledge can’t learn the little things at the major league level so matter-of-factly. It’s been done before, why can’t it again by Milledge? I think he’s best served bettering himself facing major league pitchers in high pressure situations rather than languishing in the minors feasting off competition he’s clearly better than.

    3. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge Milledge based on 350 career major league at bats. Although I don’t agree with it, Milledge is often compared to Sheffield. But over Shef’s first 2 seasons, in which he compiled 448 at bats, he had just 9 HR, 44 RBI, never hit over .247, and never had an OBP higher than .303. Compare that to Milledge’s 11 HR, 51 RBI, .257 average, and .326 OBP. In Shef’s 3rd season, he hit .294, and after being traded to San Diego hit 33 HR. Not saying Milledge is primed for Sheffield-like production, but certainly looking back you’d be kicking yourself right about now for keeping Sheffield in the minors just to get more work in. I think there’s something about getting playing time at the major league level that helps develops players who have mastered the minors more than anything else. You’ll live with the mistakes from time to time knowing that the experience is forming them into a more well-rounded player. I also think Milledge is more of a speedier Kevin Mitchell-type player than a Gary Sheffield.

    4. Finally, I’m not against the idea of bringing in a vet on a minor league deal who knows his role on the team is simply to keep the position warm for Milledge and to challenge him into becoming a better player. Perhaps that person is Endy. But, from my point of view, Milledge has excelled in the minors, showed significant improvement as last season ran its course, and I think that if he dominates in spring training, then Milledge has no where left to prove himself but at the major league level.

    Believe me when I say my last post which was lost in cyberspace was much more thought out and organized. There’s just something about having to write something twice that makes the second version a piece of crap.

  7. Matt Himelfarb November 25, 2007 at 10:18 pm
    I’m confused how Milledge had problems with situational hitting when he hit .304 with RISP last year. And he appeared fine defensively last year- including a bullet for an arm- and far better than Green, Alou, or anyone else out there.
  8. joe November 25, 2007 at 10:46 pm
    isuzu – fair argument. Though I agree comparing Milledge to Sheff doesn’t work. Sheff dominated AAA as a 19-year-old while Milledge has yet to dominate above A ball.

    Matt, situational hitting defined by statheads equals something that can be finitely measured. Situational hitting defined by old school jackasses such as myself is less finite and measured by the ability to take pitches in the proper situations, hitting the ball to the opposite field when appropriate, putting the ball on the ground to the right side with a man on second and none out, and other similarly worthless actions that do nothing for VORP nor the Strat-O-Matic card.

    Yes, Milledge occasionally showed a strong arm, but as pointed out in the post it rarely hit it’s mark — and more often missed the cutoff man and/or the intended target and allowed runners to advance (and that was when he threw to the correct base). But again, those things aren’t measured in the boxscore. And if you really think he appeared “fine” defensively then you may have missed the parts of the game where the ball was hit toward him. He continually had trouble tracking fly balls and line drives, and didn’t do well chasing balls in the gap nor down the line. Luckily, he has good foot speed which covers up many of his errors. Funny, but Shawn Green was similar in the field as a youngster, and when he lost his wheels his inefficiencies were exposed.

  9. whatdatmean November 26, 2007 at 8:08 am
    Excellent argument. I dont know that you necessarily learn more in the minors than you do in the majors though. You have 12+ coaches in the MLB [coach, mgr, + players], face better pitching to learn fro, and benefit from a better lineup that will allow good AB’s to fall you way. For Lmilz, I think he should be in the majors, he looks just as good, if not better, than some of the “rookie studs” out there. And, his D is flawed, but is still better than most options available. Gomez, on the otherhand, needs atleast 1/2 a year in AAA to get seasoning. He totally skipped this level, and could learn from being “the man” on that roster, along with situational hitting practice. His D is not a concern, so he can solely focus on hitting.

    In reality, odds are LMilz will be leaving, and it will be for the better of the team. I like Gomez over LMilz, he just has more tools to offer, and it appears to be a higher skill set level. LMilz can also net a bigger game SP.

    I agree that Johnson should be on the roster, and used often. He is a quality 4/5th OF. All hustle, decent pop, good D. Nice to platoon with endy in RF if Lmilz goes, and I would sign 1 of the guys you mentioned earlier.

    However, the 2 biggest additions the Mets can make, not named Santana are signing Kuroda and Fuk-u-do-me[i love it!]. F-dome can hold down a corner spot this year, next yr, and maybe 1 more, while waiting for f-mart [who may eventually move to 1st anyway]. He projects to hit .280, 15-20 hrs 15 sb’s, and play solid D. Sounds the same as the other guys projections, huh? And, next year, Gomez can move into RF with F-dome and Beltran already out there.
    Kuroda is a solid back of the rotation SP with a solid 4 Pitch stable. Scouts project him as high as a # 3 SP.
    It would be nice to import these 2 to bolster the team for the next 2-4 yrs, and redeem ourselves in the Japanese markets.
    Alou, Beltran, Fuk-u-do-me
    w/chavez, johnson, anderson, easley off the bench
    pedro, haren, maine, ollie, kuroda
    thats pretty sweet.

  10. isuzudude November 26, 2007 at 9:01 am
    I agree that the argument is a good one, and I credit Joe for taking a stance that is not all that popular.

    To comment on whatdman’s latest post…
    1. I’m not overly fond of Johnson on the opening day roster. To me, he’s more of an injury-replacement player than a platoon player/pinch-hitter. He’s yet to do anything that proves to me he’s ready for that type of action at the major league level (career .230 hitter, 27/70 BB/K ratio). Additionally, your bench is devoid of Gotay, who certainly deserves a bench spot more than Johnson. If the Mets have Chavez, Anderson, and Easley already on the bench, the need for another OF is not necessary. The mentality changes if Milledge is traded, because obviously the Mets then need to fill a hole in RF, as a platoon of Chavez/Johnson does not sit well with me. At that point it’s wise to start looking at the Shannon Stewart’s, Trot Nixon’s, and Darren Erstad’s of the free agent market to see who can contribute 350 quality at-bats while keeping the position warm for Gomez. I know little of Fukudome, but with the Mets recent success (or lack thereof) with Asian players, I wouldn’t be surprised if Omar looks for other options.

    2. I’m still not getting the Dan Haren rumors. This guy is only making $9.5-mil over the next 2 seasons, and even has a team option for 2010 worth a paltry $6.75-mil. Why would the A’s want to trade him now? He’s a cheap ace locked up at least through 2009. I could only see an overwhelming package getting Beane to bite on a trade, and I doubt that package would be Milledge/Pelfrey/Humber. It would have to be more like Maine/Milledge/Mulvey. I’m not doing that if I’m the Mets. I’m going out on a limb and saying Haren will not be traded this offseason.

  11. whatdatmean November 26, 2007 at 10:06 am
    Izu-It makes sense as to why the A’s would be interested in trading Haren…they produce SP like its their job. They have a fully stocked rotation of homegrown guys. They are conceding next year, as the Angels continue to improve, and the A’s small budget cant keep up. He will get better value for Haren than Blanton, looking for impact players for the 09 season. They need a stud OF to build around. Im thinking, no matter Haren’s value, will be looking to add LMilz as his CF for the coming years, and adding Heilman into the rotation, as he has a good/solid BP. He will probably also get 1 more or his choice, likely Gotay or Humber, to add either IF depth, or a cheap, back of the rotation starter with good potential, and add 1 low prospect from the Mets. 4 for 1 is good value, as opposed to blanton, who i wouldnt pay even LMilz straight up for.
    No, trading Haren isnt the best move, but it is the smartest to build a team with many holes. If the A’s are truly allowing 1 rebuilding year, then they could look to use Gotay as a 3b option to possibly trade chavez, heilman to replace street if they move him, or move him into the rotation where he belongs. It is logical, considering he already has a solid rotation, and more guys on the way, but covets LMilz as his CF.
    btw-johnson has the intangibles to make a nice bench guy for an extra OF, all hustle, good pop. I would prefer he be in AAA, but if LMilz goes, and we cant pull in a good platoon guy, i wouldnt cry about him or chavez splitting time in the 8hole. There is a lot to say about gritty guys in the lineup. Im still not sure why they dont start teaching gotay some OF….could be very helpful if he is not traded.
    Japanese players-i can only go by what i read, and video on youtube. They look good, we just had bad pickin’s in the past. The only legit asian we got was Kaz, and he flopped. Hopefully Omar wont be gun shy, as they are 2 of better options out there.
  12. skibolton November 26, 2007 at 10:34 am
    I personally wouldn’t mind going into the season with milledge as the starting right fielder. Just looking st the free agent market, Andruw jones may be the only player I’d be more comfortable seeing in shea in 2008. If he was willing to accept a short term deal to rebuild some value, I’d love to see him added to the roster. If he’s looking for 5 or 6 years, and some team is willing to give that to him, I hope it’s not the mets. Other than Andruw, I don’t see anyone out there that is signifigantly better than lastings.

    I do think the mets might have rushed him to the majors in 2006, but I feel like it may have been the right move for the front office. I fell the same about pelfrey in 2006 and gomez last season. The mets have a large fanbase, with tons of media and blog coverage. There is more pressure on omar from fans to have a team of all stars than for teams like the braves or A’s, due largely to his media market. I think he at least has to give these kids a shot to see how they will handle the big stage and media, and also to give the fans a chance to see these kids play. I don’t know how mets fans would have reacted if chip ambres had been brought up early on instead of Gomez. Personally, when I tuned in to SNY and saw that Gomez had been brought up, I was thrilled. It gave me a chance to see one of our top prospects. I definately wouldn’t have been anticipating a chip ambres at bat the same way. Even if Gomez still needs to develop more, which I believe, I feel better having seen him in person to determine that.

    We constantly hear criticisms from the dodgers fans that they sign guys like gonzalez and pierre, and block prospects who are ready for the majors. It’s very possible that none of these kids are any more developed than the mets kids, and aren’t ready. If dodgers fans haven’t seen them though, and just get to see the scouting reports, how can they make that determination. Had we not seen Gomez or Pelfrey yet, I think most fans would be screaming for them to start in 2008, and wanting the team to stand pat. In this instance, I’m glad the mets move their prospects quickly. I know I’d rather see gomez start the season in the minors…something I probably wouldn’t be saying if he had spent the whole season there last year. At the same time, I don’t feel he’d be any better a player this coming season if he hadn’t been used the way he was last year. It’s not like he was not used in the bigs, he still got AB’s, giving him time to develop. If anything, I feel he’ll be better at AAA this season because of it.

  13. joe November 26, 2007 at 11:27 am
    Omar keeps saying — publicly — that he’s working on getting a frontline starter. Now, if his definition of “frontline” is what we think it is — a #1 or #2 — then I don’t see how it’s going to happen w/o Milledge and/or Gomez being moved. If it’s Milledge, then suddenly our discussion on how to fill RF becomes huge — because I think we’re all in agreement that Gomez needs more time in AAA.

    If Billy Beane is as high on Millz as everyone seems to think, then Haren is a slight possibility for the Mets IMHO. But I get the feeling he’s going to dangle Haren to teams and then pull the bait-and-switch with Harden — who is quickly turning into Mark Prior / Kerry Wood.

    Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Andruw Jones coming to Shea to play RF if Milledge is dealt. He wouldn’t be blocking anyone because Alou will be gone and there will be a corner opening up. But as others have pointed out the price is likely too high, and I’m not sure he’s interested in coming North.

  14. isuzudude November 26, 2007 at 11:35 am
    You know, aside from the Devil Rays, I’ve never heard of a team deciding to concede their season in November. I have to think every team thinks they have at least a chance of making the playoffs before the season begins. And heck, we haven’t even gotten to the winter meetings yet. I agree, the Angels look nasty on paper, but if games were won on paper, then the Mets should have run away with the NL East last season. But we know how that went. And correct me if I’m wrong, but there is something called the wildcard these days, in which teams don’t have to win their divisions outright to make the playoffs. I realize the A’s would need to beat out the Tigers, Indians, Yankees, and Red Sox for that spot, but stranger things have happened (kind of like the low-budget Rockies getting to the World Series this past season). Unless you have documentation of an Oakland executive being quoted as saying the team is throwing in the towel in 2008 to prepare for 2009, then your theory holds no weight.

    Additionally, just because a team produces starting pitching like “it’s their job” doesn’t mean they’re just going to give away their best pitcher for a package from the Mets that’s not even as good as offers they are likely fielding from other teams. If I’m Billy Beane, I am in absolutely no rush to trade Haren, because I know I have at least another 2 years to deal him if I’m deadset on going in that direction. I gotta tell you, too, if the A’s were so knee-deep in starting pitching talent, why were they giving starts to Chad Gaudin, Lenny DiNardo, and Joe Kennedy (RIP) in 2007? Seeing how they finished 10 games under five-hundred, shouldn’t they have been starting some of their young guns to get them some big league experience? I think that’s because, with the exception of Dallas Braden and Dan Meyer, they really don’t have anyone else that ready to step in to their rotation.

    And please hear my cry: don’t trade Heilman. We’ll only realize how vital Heilman was to our team until he’s gone, and by then it’ll be too late.

  15. skibolton November 26, 2007 at 11:55 am
    I don’t think that Billy Beane is willing to concede the 2008 season quite yet. I think though that he probably feels he needs better position players to be more competitive. His starting pitching was pretty good, and his bullpen was also quite good. Unfortunately for the A’s, their evryday players don’t really score many runs. They have several young 1b/DH types that look pretty good, and some ok looking corner of’ers. They have quite a bit of room to upgade the lineup though. I get the feeling that Beane may dangle haren fully intending not to trade him unless he can dump the chavez contract in the same deal without eating any salary, much like the beckett deal. If he can’t I don’t see the upside of trading away their best pitcher. Blanton is a nice enough pitcher, but if they can get everyday players for him, I think the need is great enough there to justify it. I just can’t see the mets acquiring Dan Haren, as much as I’d like too. I agree with Joe, if we get into talks with Billy Beane, he probably only wants to deal Harden or possibly Blanton. I also strongly agree with isu…Heilman can’t be a toss in in any deal. If he is a major piece for a team, and is needed to get a deal done, then omar has to consider it. Too many people look at him as expendable though, where he has been the most stable portion of the pen for the past three years. He would be missed greatly. If a team wants a toss in reliever, give them 2 years of the show. At this point he is getting market money and only has 2 years left, so would be a shorter commitment than the guys on the market. Don’t use heilman as a toss in.
  16. joe November 26, 2007 at 12:45 pm
    Actually, what Beane will probably do is entertain offers for Haren, Harden, etc. during the winter to get a “temperature” on those guys, then see what happens in mid-July.

    He’ll get a lot more for Harden, for example, if he proves to be healthy from April – June. And if the A’s are out of it by then, and they have both Harden and Haren to deal to 10+ teams desperate to stay in the race … well, just look at the Reds’ dealing three guys from their starting lineup for a middle reliever back in July of ’06. Beane could effectively build a powerhouse lineup for ’09 and beyond.

  17. whatdatmean November 26, 2007 at 12:54 pm
    i agree that it is early to concede, but stranger things have happened. Teams are often dismantled, and top guys are dealt to add depth in areas of need. I fully believe the A’s are doing what they always do, but Heilman is the cog that makes Haren a little more expendible. He is a solid RP, but he can be a viable SP, which the Mets continue to ignore. Haren will simplay add more fire power than anyother departure, and if Beane can add 2+ arms and a CF, then its a good move. We have one of the better packages bc of LMilz, who is a hot prospect in most circles, plus Heilman who is a quality arm and possible starter, and he will likely get 1 of Pelfrey, Mulvey, or Humber…which can fit as a #5 guy this year or wait till next year.
    They can totally concede the year in a effort to rebuild, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so. Small market teams do that every once in a while, some even manage to contend.
    My preferred move is either a trade with Pitts, in an attempt to get Snell or Gorzellany with either Marte or Torres. Or, a trade with Balt for Bedard.
    I dont care about those that say…no way, it will never happen. Thats just dumb, bc big names get traded all the time bc it makes the team better. They have more value the longer they are under control, and often performs the greater good. Im sure the Marlins are kicking themselves for trading Beckett, but they love Ramirez + Sanchez. These things happen based on need. Santana, Haren, + Bedard can logically be dealt bc these franchises hae specific requirements whether it be $ or a lack of depth at a position, or the GM becoming obsessed with a specific talent. Its all speculation. However, I will believe that Omar will get a topline SP bc he guaranteed it, so there must be something out there in principle. Who knows what they may be, but im sure we will find out soon.
  18. Matt Himelfarb November 26, 2007 at 3:11 pm
    With all due respect Joe, I don’t see how you can possibly PROVE Milledge, is better “hitting the ball to the opposite field when appropriate, putting the ball on the ground to the right side with a man on second and none out,” than anyone else in the game.

    And don’t you think we should value Milledge more for his ability to get HITS than to ground out?

  19. joe November 26, 2007 at 3:27 pm
    Matt, as I mentioned — and by now you should know — that I’m an old school jackass that doesn’t necessarily believe that all of a player’s value can be proven with statistics. And until one of you statheads figures out how valuable true situational hitting is, we’ll never know.

    But then, the sabremetricians have already “proven” that bunting and stealing is completely worthless, and probably are already working on numbers showing that the hit and run is equally inconsequential.

    Still, I’ll take your argument at face value and agree that yes, we should value Milledge for his ability to get hits. That said, his ability to garner a hit at the Major League level is so far at the .257 level, and he gets on base about 32% of the time. He hits a homerun once about every 36 times he comes to the plate. His Zone Rating for 2007 was .842; in 2006 it was .833. From what I understand, this ZR is below-average to average — in Adam Dunn territory.

    So now, looking ONLY at the numbers — does that look like a strong candidate to be the Mets’ starting rightfielder?

  20. Matt Himelfarb November 26, 2007 at 3:38 pm
    Milledge has cleary made some great strides defensively since 2006, and his RZR (Refined Zone rating) in 2007 puts him second among National League right fielders, though I’m somewhat cautious of fielding statistics, so while I don’t know if he was THAt good last year, he seems decent to me in RF and as I noted, I’ve always loved his arm.

    IMO, I think it’s pretty accepted today that batting average, is well, worthless. Milledge’s OPS. of .787 is nothing great either, but he’ll continue to develop power and will be at least an above average right fielder.

  21. joe November 26, 2007 at 3:56 pm
    What the heck is “Refined” Zone rating and where do I find these stats? I’m just getting used to “range factor” and “zone rating” and luckily ESPN makes these relatively easy to find.

    What exactly was his RZR? How does it compare to Shawn Green’s? I ask because Green’s “regular” ZR went up by 40 points between ’06 and ’07, which would lead me to suggest that Green, also, is making great strides, and has put up similar or better offensive numbers (depending on which stats you pick). So maybe we should be talking about bringing back Green on a cheap deal?

    Also, I didn’t realize batting average went the way of the SB and sacrifice hit. So his .326 OBP is OK because the OPS is .787? Where I get lost is you convinced me that Paul LoDuca was not nearly as valuable as everyone thought in 2006, yet LoDuca’s OPS was nearly identical (.783).

    What makes you believe Milledge will continue to develop power? The best he’s ever done in the minors was 15 HRs in 343 ABs in low A ball in 2004. In his minor league career he’s hit a total of 34 HRs in over 1136 ABs, with a .480 SGL%. His minor league career OPS in fact, is .860. Is that very good for a minor leaguer? To me, those numbers look awfully close to Jay Payton’s minor league career (.484 SLG, .852 OPS), and other than one altitude-enhanced season playing home games in Denver, Payton has never been mistaken as power threat. Based on the numbers, why should we believe that Milledge will somehow outperform Payton’s career?

    Speaking of Payton, he was already regarded as a strong defender coming out of the minors, and I think is still considered an above-average defensive outfielder. But I don’t have the numbers to support that.

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