Lastings Milledge has been mentioned in so many trade talks that it’s surprising the Sixers didn’t get him back for Allen Iverson. The latest rumor has him being shipped to the A’s for Joe Blanton.
Omar Minaya needs to be very careful about what he gets for Milledge because he has a very bright future and is underrated for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, Milledge fits into a category of player that included representatives like Brian McCann and Edwin Encarnacion last season. Particularly, that is a player who split his season between the majors and the minors, with the more impressive work coming on the minor league side. Milledge did not play enough in Norfolk for his raw totals to look impressive — his “scoreboard stats” were a .277 BA, 7 HR, and 36 RBIs. And he didn’t play very well in his time with the Mets, managing to collar himself with a “bad clubhouse guy” rep in the meantime. Many Mets fans think about the rough sledding Milledge had in New York and would just as rather see him go.
Secondly, Norfolk is an absolutely brutal hitting environment, and so the .277/.388/.440 line that Milledge posted there translates into a .300/.398/.492 equivalent line. That’s right: Norfolk is such a tough park that it’s actually harder to put up numbers there than in a major league park against major league competition. Milledge’s splits were .261/.385/.325 at home and .293/.391/.560 in road games.
Here’s what PECOTA sees for the next five seasons:
Those are very good numbers in Shea Stadium, especially for someone who can play a credible center field. Joe Blanton isn’t enough for this package and it isn’t close. Dan Haren might be enough, but it’s closer than you’d think considering that Haren has four years of pre-FA service time left to Milledge’s six (including his very cheap pre-arbitration years).
The funny thing is that a Blanton-for-Milledge trade might not even improve the Mets in 2006. Blanton’s EqERA projection is 4.48, compared to Mike Pelfry’s 4.87 and Odalis Oliver Perez’ 4.85, so we’re talking about a relatively mild improvement in the rotation. Conversely, Milledge’s .281 EqA compares favorably to Shawn Green’s .266.