Tag:Lastings Milledge
Posted on: March 18, 2011 10:33 am
Edited on: March 18, 2011 11:18 am
 

Pepper: Kemp has something to prove



By Matt Snyder


Prior to last season, the common sentiment was that Matt Kemp was headed to stardom. It made sense. He was only 25 and was coming off a season where he hit .297 with a .352 OBP and 26 homers, 101 RBI, 97 runs and 34 stolen bases. Though he did hit two more home runs last season, he regressed rather significantly. His average dropped 48 points and OBP was a poor .310. He stole 19 bases, but was caught stealing 15 times. And the stat-line wasn't the worst part. His love life and butting heads with coaches made more news than his actual play.

But the proverbial page has been turned this spring.

"He seems great. I shouldn't say 'seems,' because he's been great," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times .

Kemp came into the spring with that cliche of being in the best shape of his life. So far, it's coming through on the field, as he's hitting .316 with three home runs and three stolen bases. He's looking for it to carry over into the games that actually matter, and there's an extra motivation at play.

"Last year was a very disappointing season, personally and team-wise," he said to the Times. "I felt like I failed in some way. This year, I'm going to try to make sure that doesn't happen again, that we get back to the playoffs and get to where we should be."

HEILMAN ON THE HILL: Aaron Heilman hasn't started a game since 2005, but he's making a strong case to break camp as the Diamondbacks' fifth starter. Two of the three between Heilman, Barry Enright and Armando Galarraga will join the D-Backs' rotation, and Heilman became the first Arizona pitcher to toss five innings Thursday. He allowed two runs -- coming on a Matt Kemp homer, coincidentally. (MLB.com )

ABOUT FELIX'S NO-TRADE CLAUSE: A popular topic this week on the interwebs has been this list of teams Felix Hernandez has on his no-trade clause. Specifically, he can block a trade to the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Phillies and two still-unnamed teams. Now, upon first glance, it might seem he's scared to play in a large-market, high-pressure situation. Quite the contrary, however, as this is actually a savvy move by Hernandez and his agents. Reports indicate these are the teams they felt were most likely to try and acquire King Felix and would be able to offer financial incentives to waive the clause. While we're here, Yankees fans, Felix is not going to be traded this year. It's time to turn the page. (FOX Sports )

NICE CATCH:
Yankees legend Yogi Berra was speaking with Rays manager Joe Maddon Thursday when Berra tripped and began to fall. Maddon caught him. "It's one of those things, you just see it and he's going down. There's Yogi Berra falling right in front of me," Maddon said. "I try to catch him. It might have been my best play as a professional." If not for Maddon's steady hand, it would have been the second fall this spring for Berra. (TBO.com )

OUTFIELD DEFENSE: The best defensive outfield? The Mariners, followed by the Rangers, Giants and Yankees. (MLB.com )

BIG DAY: Kendrys Morales is either going to play Sunday or start the season on the disabled list. He did say rather definitively that he plans to play, but words can only carry you so far. If he's not fully recovered from last season's broken leg, he's just not ready. Mark Trumbo would be the Angels' starting first baseman if Morales can't go. (MLB.com )

ROLEN FOR HALL: This is interesting to me because I rarely consider a Hall of Fame case for a guy who has yet to retire, but Fangraphs.com takes a look at the possible Hall case for Scott Rolen. He probably doesn't pass that gut feeling test -- you know, when people say you should be able to hear the name and automatically just say "Hall of Famer!" if he belongs in -- but it does look like his numbers will merit strong consideration. Fangraphs does warn Rolen is in danger of becoming Ron Santo 2.0.

DEFUNCT LOGOS: This is a fun one. SBNation's Beyond the Box Score takes a look at its top 30 defunct MLB logos. I'm partial to the No. 5 logo, but there are some good ones in there.

LASTINGS IMPRESSION: It's easy to forget that Lastings Milledge is only 25. After all, he was a first-round draft pick in 2003 and was in the majors in 2006. Since then, it's been mostly disappointment, but he is raking this spring with the White Sox -- hitting .314 with four home runs and nine RBI. He hit two bombs in Thursday's win. The biggest plus might be seeing the humility. "Whatever production they get out of me is a plus. I’m not a key piece," he said. (Chicago Sun-Times )

A SIX-YEAR HIATUS? How about a Darren Dreifort comeback? He hasn't pitched since 2004, but threw a bullpen session this week at Dodgers camp. He's 39, but had severe injury woes in his career and retired at age 32. I'd say don't hold your breath. It's spring and sometimes people are just trying to file any story even remotely interesting. (MLB.com )

ON CONTRACTION:
The New York Post has a theory on what the majors could do with the Rays, A's, Mets and Dodgers. The Rays and A's would be contracted while the respective ownership groups would take over the messes that are the Mets and Dodgers. In order to curb the complaints of the player's union, major league rosters would be expanded to 27 players, thereby not eliminating jobs -- it would actually very slightly increase the number of major-league players. It's decent fodder for this time of the year, when we're killing time until the regular season begins, but I just don't ever see contraction happening.

SOUTH KOREAN IDOL: Shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee has fully embraced life in America, as he's become a huge fan of KFC and Papa John's, for example. He's also a big American Idol fan and sings really well -- according to himself. (TampaBay.com )

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Posted on: February 24, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: February 24, 2011 7:27 pm
 

Pepper: Dominoes falling after Wainwright injury



THE WAINWRIGHT EFFECT:
In what had previously been a rather quiet week in baseball, we learned Wednesday that star Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright might be forced to undergo what would be season-ending surgery (Update: He will have the surgery ). So, of course, the news sent shockwaves through the baseball world -- and I don't mean those sent by an alleged celebratory song that turned out to be, well, nothing .

First of all, his contact situation becomes murky. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes , Wainwright had a two-year option for $21 million for the 2012 and 2013 seasons that vested due to his top-five finish in Cy Young voting last season. If he ends a season on the disabled list due to an  arm or shoulder injury, however, the Cardinals may void the deal. If he does have to go through the surgery and rehab, Wainwright will be a 30-year-old battling back from Tommy John surgery at this time next. And keep in mind the Cardinals will be desperately finding ways to keep Albert Pujols come next offseason. Simply put: this injury could cost Wainwright a lot of money -- or at the very least cloud his future with the Cardinals.

Next up, my colleague C. Trent Rosecrans did an excellent roundup of possible Cardinals options to replace Wainwright, but one guy who may end up eventually being an option is Mark Buehrle of the White Sox. The veteran left-hander is in the final year of his four-year contract and could go on the block by the time the trade deadline comes around. Of course, many things would have to happen between now and then and it's a long way away from the time when any talk could be taken seriously, but Buehrle seemed to indicate (to MLB.com) he would waive his no-trade clause in the right situation -- though he'd rather stay in Chicago.

And finally, in the likely-washed-up category, Kevin Millwood is working out like he's expecting a job this season. "I am just kind of keeping going, staying in shape and getting my arm ready to go when something does happen," Millwood told the Baltimore Sun .

JUST HOLD THE GAMBLING: Mike Schmidt wants Jimmy Rollins to be more like ... Pete Rose. While Rollins might be part of a winning team, he's still underachieving, according to the Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman. "I just think Pete understood more what his role was. Jimmy kind of gets to being Jimmy. Jimmy needs to be more Pete Rose-like in his approach to the game, and more accountable for getting on base and understanding that offensively, he's about running and getting on base and getting hits and leading the lead in hitting," Schmidt told reporters. (Philadelphia Daily News )

BUT WHAT'S A ZONE RATING? Despite nearly every defensive metric available -- save for that good, old-fashioned eye test -- telling them otherwise, the Brewers seem to like the defensive prowess of Yuniesky Betancourt.

"I think appearances sometimes [work against him], how a guy plays," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel .

"He's more of a 'smooth' type of fielder, the manager went on. "He doesn't have the speed like you had with [former Brewers shortstop Alcides] Escobar and we had with [Angels shortstop Erick] Aybar. You don't see that flash where he's flying to the ball. He's moving OK; he's just a smooth runner. He's not as fast as those two I mentioned but he has good hands and a good arm. I think he makes the steady play. I don't consider him a defensive liability."

According to Fangraphs.com, including qualified players only, Betancourt rated as the third-worst shortstop in baseball last season defensively -- ahead of only Hanley Ramirez and Jason Bartlett. Maligned defenders like Derek Jeter and Starlin Castro rate out better. But hey, at least he has good hands -- always an important feature among guys who don't get to many grounders.

MOVE OVER RAUCH: The Blue Jays hurler stands at 6-foot-11 and is the tallest player in major league history, but that record appears to be toppling soon in favor of a 7-foot-1 pitcher for the Angels. Loek Van Mil appears a menacing presence on the hill, and that's before you factor in his ability to hit 99 on the radar gun. The 26 year old notes he wants to make the bigs on merit, not as a side show. (Yahoo! )

ALLOW MYSELF TO INTRODUCE ... MYSELF: Miguel Tejada will be portrayed by Royce Clayton in the upcoming movie, Moneyball . Clayton noted he worked hard to try and replicate Tejada's swing, but we won't see him using a Dominican accent. "I gave it a whirl, but [the producers] told me to lose it after a while," Clayton said. Considering the career .679 OPS (to Tejada's .801), there will be more than one difference. But, hey, at least we won't be forced to believe Freddie Prinze, Jr. is a major league prospect . (San Francisco Chronicle )

COLORADO CHALLENGE:
After a nine-game regression by a young, but really talented, team in 2010, Rockies manager Jim Tracy opened camp by challenging his team to get better. He used numbers. Like 833 (the number of days the team collectively spent on the DL last year) and 30 (the number of games the Rockies lost by one run). Seeing things like that makes you realize just how dangerous the still-young Rockies can be in 2011. The West race very much seems to be a two-teamer at this point. (MLB.com )

BYE BYE Rays? A St. Petersburg Times columnist discusses how either relocation or contraction never seems to stray far from the Tampa Bay Rays. He opines that by 2017, when debt payments to Tropicana Field are concluded, the Rays could be in trouble. On one hand, it's disappointing to hear talk like this for any team. On the other, it's even more disappointing that a team as exciting as the Rays -- who have won the AL East twice and American League once in the past three seasons -- can't draw any better. In 2010, the Rays drew 22,758 fans per home game, which is only 52 percent of the stadium's capacity. This was the worst among playoff teams. (ESPN.com )

A LASTING PLAN: After years of failing to live up to rather large hype, Lastings Milledge now has a "pretty good plan" on how to get his career on track as he joins the White Sox in camp. He's had his girlfriend cut off his long hair and is refocused. He won't reveal the ins and outs of his plan, but says the first step is making the team. Milledge was a first-round draft pick for the Mets out of high school in 2003 and arrived as a 21 year old in 2006, but he's only hit .269/.328/.394 in parts of five seasons for three different teams. Still, at age 25 he's far from cooked. Maybe he puts things together this time around. His talent is certainly still bouncing around in there somewhere. (Chicago Sun Times )

-- Matt Snyder

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Posted on: December 3, 2010 12:28 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:37 am
 

Russell Martin among those non-tendered

The deadline to tender contracts was Thursday night at 11:59 p.m., and here's the players who were not tendered contracts and are now free agents:

A's: Edwin Encarnacion, Jack Cust, Travis Buck

Angels: Kevin Frandsen

Astros: Sammy Gervacio

Blue Jays: Jeremy Accardo, Fred Lewis

Braves: Matt Diaz

Brewers: Todd Coffey, Joe Inglett

Diamondbacks: Blaine Boyer, Ryan Church, Augie Ojeda, D.J. Carrasco

Dodgers: Russell Martin, George Sherrill, Trent Oeltjen

Giants: Eugenio Velez, Chris Ray

Mariners: Ryan Rowland-Smith

Marlins: Jose Veras, Ronny Paulino

Mets: Chris Carter, Sean Green, John Maine

Nationals: Wil Nieves, Joel Peralta, Chein-Ming Wang

Orioles: Matt Albers

Padres: Scott Hairston, Tony Gwynn Jr., Luis Perdomo, Matt Antonelli

Pirates: Lastings Milledge, Argenis Diaz, Donnie Veal, Brian Burres

Rangers: Dustin Nippert

Rays: Lance Cormier, Willy Aybar, Dioner Navarro, J.P. Howell

Red Sox: Hideki Okajima, Taylor Buchholz, Andrew Miller

Rockies: Manny Delcarmen

Royals: Josh Fields

Tigers: Zach Miner

White Sox: Bobby Jenks, Erick Threets

Yankees: Alfredo Aceves, Dustin Mosley

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: September 18, 2010 9:54 pm
 

Milledge considers poor 2010 year best yet

Lastings Milledge Lastings Milledge's season is likely over after a left oblique strain shut him down on Tuesday.

That will bring 2010 to a close with a disappointing .277/.332/.380 line in 412 plate appearances as the talented 25-year-old failed to take the step forward which has been expected of him for years.

Toss in defensive struggles, and Milledge probably can't wait to turn the page on 2010.

Not so fast. Milledge actually considers his career "at the best point its ever been," MLB.com writes .

Huh?

"I broke a lot of labels," Milledge said. "I broke a lot of things that were said about me. That was a goal, as well to get that negative vibe from over my head this year. I think that's bigger than hitting 30 homers. I think that's bigger than anything else, because now teams see that I've gotten a lot better as a player and a lot better as a person."

Milledge has toted around a negative label the last few years, one that saw him kicked out of the Mets and Nationals organizations. In fact, Milledge was dealt to the Pirates for Nyjer Morgan in a bit of delicious irony.

However, 2010 has been quiet in terms of newsprint about Milledge and his bad attitude, character, work ethic and whatever trait that was terrible in the past that just had to be written about.

But now, those in the Pirates organization say Milledge is anything but.

"Now I can be, quote, unquote, trusted," Milledge said. "I think that's bigger than anything. That's bigger than having an All-Star year. For me, it's huge to be able to be looked upon as a leader, and a guy that gives everything he has and is willing to make any adjustment at any given time. I think I've gotten a lot better. I just want to put everything together."

Milledge will head to winterball to make up for losing at-bats due to the injury and ineffectiveness that saw him lose his starter's job. He'll also head to Venezuela focused on being who he thinks he can be.

"I think I changed my game a lot this year, and it kind of cost me some playing time," he said. "I changed my approach around a little bit to get more hits and be more adequate on the field.

"I maybe gave myself up too much in situations that I could be more aggressive," Milledge added. "I think I was a little bit passive sometimes. It's just trying to have a fine line between being aggressive and knowing when to give yourself up. I think I've got to learn that. When I learn that, that's going to be the year where I put everything together."

It may be too late in the Pirates organization, as its unlikely Milledge will be handed a starting spot again. It's possible Pittsburgh could cut ties with Milledge entirely. More likely, he'll be a platoon player or fourth outfielder and have to fight for at-bats. Milledge understands that he might have to battle for playing time, but hopes he can prove his doubters wrong.

"I want to be an everyday starter," he stated. "I want them to look at me and say, 'This guy is going to do anything to win the game. Anything.' That's what I want."

Given his age, its unlikely the floundering Pirates get rid of Milledge. He'll certainly have to battle for playing time, but there's simply too much potential for the Pirates to give up on someone who has yet to turn 26 and shouldn't command a significant raise in arbitration.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 9, 2010 4:36 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2010 4:57 pm
 

Scoring error drops Leake's ERA a half point


Mike Leake Reds rookie Mike Leake shaved nearly a half of a run off of his ERA before he even threw a pitch on Monday.

Leake, who will start opposite Chris Carpenter in the first game of the showdown between the first-place Reds and second-place Cardinals, benefitted from a scoring change in last Tuesday's start in Pittsburgh.

With an out in the second inning, Lastings Milledge hit a grounder by third baseman Scott Rolen that was originally called a double. The Reds appealed and on Monday Major League Baseball changed it to an error. That changed the six earned runs in that inning to six unearned, dropping his ERA from 3.86 to 3.43 on the season. Leake gave up another unearned run in the fifth, on his own error. That was the only game the Reds lost on their six-game road trip.

The Reds' other rookie starter, Travis Wood, was optioned to Triple-A Louisville before the game to make room for Jim Edmonds, acquired by the team earlier in the day. Wood, 3-1 with a 2.65 ERA in eight starts, will likely be back up after 10 days. The Reds have two off days in the next week, Thursday and next Monday. Wood wasn't scheduled to pitch again until the 18th in Arizona, now he'll pitch the next day.
Wood has thrown 149 innings between the minors and majors this season. He threw 167 2/3 innings last season. The team is monitoring Leake's innings as well. He's thrown 126 innings so far this season, his first professional season.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.



Posted on: June 30, 2010 1:14 pm
 

Pirates' Crosby close to return

Good news for the Pirates, who need any good news they can find.

Second baseman Bobby Crosby will hit off a tee today and could be available to pinch-hit against the Cubs today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 's Rob Biertempfel writes . Crosby is expected to be available for Thursday's game.

Andy LaRoche is playing second for the Pirates today in Chicago.

Crosby was the second Pirates second baseman to collide with a right fielder in the course of four days. Friday night the team lost Neil Walker in a collision with Ryan Church and Walker has since been put on the disabled list with a concussion. Crosby collided on the same type of shallow popup on Monday, this time running into Lastings Milledge.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: June 28, 2010 11:04 pm
 

Pirates lose another second baseman

Bobby Crosby Being the Pirates' second baseman is dangerous business these days.

Bobby Crosby was removed from Monday's game against the Cubs with concussion-like symptoms after colliding with outfielder Lastings Milledge.

On Friday, Neil Walker collided with Ryan Church and suffered a concussion. He has been sent back to Pittsburgh for more tests.

The Pirates released their Opening Day second baseman, Akinori Iwamura, two weeks ago. Andy LaRoche has been transitioning from third to second but is a work in progress. The only player to start at second for the Pirates this season other than Iwamura, Walker and Crosby is Delwyn Young, who has started there three times and is batting .221.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: June 8, 2010 8:30 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:36 am
 

Strasburg's sixth inning

Stephen Strasburg has struck out 11 of the first 21 batters he's faced in the big leagues, but his night may be over after 81 pitches.

If he's taken out, Strasburg may have done everything but get the win.

In the sixth, he struck out the first three batters of the Pirates' order -- Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Lastings Milledge. Strasburg didn't even throw a fastball to get Milledge, who struck out at a changeup in the dirst and was thrown out at first.

Strasburg is on a limit of 90 pitches.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans


 
 
 
 
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