Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is Milledge a Fit in Toronto?

Alex Anthopoulos is known to acquire players who were once highly touted prospects even if their stock has dropped significantly.

He added players like Brandon Morrow, Yunel Escobar, Fred Lewis, John Buck etc. when they were already being viewed as players who were unable to live up to the hype that was laid upon them. These players were able to provide different levels of success for the Jays major league club in the 2009 season.

In fantasy baseball you might call these guys the "post-hype" sleepers, due to their widely perceived lack of value. Often times these players either haven't been given proper time, been mishandled, or have simply underperformed the lofty expectations that were heaped upon them while they were coming through their respective systems.

Fans and front offices alike are often unable to look past what these players can do well and gradually grow tired of expectations unmet that were maybe unrealistic in the first place.

Morrow is obviously the poster boy of what I am talking about, and if A.A. is able to search out a few more success stories he will be able to get useful players with the potential to be a lot better.

With all of that said, I was looking for a few of these types myself and I came across Lastings Milledge, who was once drafted 12th overall by the New York Mets out of a Florida high school. Milledge is still just 25 years old and has already played in three different organizations. In 2006, he was rated the 9th best prospect in the minors by Baseball America.

While he hasn't lived up to his billing as a perennial all-star outfielder, he has been able to consistently get playing time in both right and left (as well as center while he was in Washington), albeit on some awful teams. Those teams were likely playing him in the hopes of rekindling some of the talent that evaluators saw in him previously.

I am not sure if this move would work out as well as some others, especially with the arrival of Rajai Davis, but Milledge has shown the ability to hit lefties which the Blue Jays sorely lacked last year. With tough left-handers in the AL East such as David Price and Jon Lester (and maybe Cliff Lee) the Jays could use someone like him if for nothing other than a fourth outfielder.

Last year he hit lefties very well (.320/.414/.512, all of his four homers, and a 19/16 strikeout to walk ratio) and has throughout his major league career. He is a flawed player in many areas (baserunning, defensive fundamentals), but if you can look at what he does well then you can see the player that he is and not the player many thought he could be.