Though Lasting Milledge accomplished zilch last night against The Sultan Of Sloth, I’ll still send my salutations to the New York Observer’s Howard Megdal for injecting a halfway reasoned approach to the matter of the Mets’ much-maligned outfielder.
On the field, Milledge has done nothing but perform since being drafted with the 12th pick of the first round by the Mets in the 2003 draft. He hit .337 with 13 home runs in 261 at bats for Class-A Capital City in 2004 as an 19-year-old, then followed that line with a .302 average at high-A St. Lucie and .337 mark with a .487 slugging percentage at AA Binghamton. These numbers are impressive in any context; to put them up while Milledge was young for each level, and in pitchers™ parks, makes them even more remarkable.
Then, in 2006, Milledge got even better, managing a .277 batting average, .388 on-base percentage, and a .440 slugging percentage playing for AAA Norfolk, in a park which ranked among the toughest in all of baseball for hitters.
To put that season in perspective, Milledge™s numbers were decisively better than those of Yankee deity Derek Jeter at the same age.
The largely white, middle-aged core of reporters covering Milledge didn™t seem inclined to grant him a fresh start when he reported to camp this season. He had added an estimated 10-15 pounds of muscle this offseason, and showed for camp a day earlier than the mandatory reporting date.
œLastings Milledge, whose image needs an overhaul, is nowhere to be found, wrote John Delcos of the Journal News on February 15. œIn 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. Just two Mets, David Wright and Jose Reyes, had arrived at that point.
As Milledge batted .435 with 3 home runs in a rehab stint at AA Binghamton this week, the Journal News™ Delcos caused a stir by referring to Milledge as a œtime bomb in an interview with MetsBlog, an online Mets news site.
Elaborating on the quote at his own blog, Delcos said Wednesday, œThe perception of Milledge IS that something could happen with him anytime. Hence, the timebomb reference. Is that fair? Probably not, but it is there. For example, he was all peaches and cream in spring training, then came the issue with the rap record. Big deal or not, something happened and the Mets weren™t happy. Nobody made it up ¦ It happened. Until he goes through a seamless period, there will be those expectations of waiting for the other shoe to drop.
And, almost inevitably the wood on the back of the July 13th Post, following Milledge™s triumphant return to the majors, was œHip-Hop Hurray.
While some in the blogosphere seem to have a pronounced dislike for Da Edge — check out the Country Time-esque advice offered by Bugs & Cranks’ Brad Bortone (“You don™t have to be a role model. Or even a model citizen. Just shut the hell up, and focus on being the best player you can be. The rest will work itself out. But Lastings, your fame clock just hit 14:59 ” and that last tick would hurt you more than you know.”) — Lone Star Mets’ Dan Ziegler has what could be the last word. Except somebody will surely have something rotten to say before long. You might even call Wally Matthews a ticking time bomb.