The Mets Lastings Milledge arrives in the big leagues
The last New York Mets outfielder to arrive at Shea Stadium with this much hype won the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year award. That player went on to start what appeared to be a possible Hall of Fame career that was derailed due to issues off the field.
That player was Darryl Strawberry. And if he remained clean and continued his career the proper way, we may have been putting him in the same category as some of the other all-time great outfielders to grace the New York ballparks over the years.
Can Milledge live up to his billing? Being a first round draft pick out of high school in 2003, he had as much promise as he did questions. He fell to the Mets at number 12 due to the fact that he had legal issues that involved a young lady. But when you are 16 or 17 years of age, sometimes mistakes are made and maturity will be the growth of better judgment.
Coming into spring training this season, Milledge had a career batting average of .313 over three minor league seasons, the highest level being Double-A Binghamton. He had a good exhibition season before being sent down to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. Rumors had him being everything from trade bait to Cliff Floyd's replacement in 2007. He was not expected to be called up before mid season.
He started out the season on fire and was hitting well over .300 before a slump set him back. Recently, he starting finding his stroke again and was hitting .291 when the Mets starting right fielder, Xavier Nady, was placed on the disabled list. The Mets decided that it was Milledge time.
The young outfielder was late arriving at Shea Stadium due to airline delays. He finally made it approximately one hour before first pitch and was penciled in right field and batting eighth.
He delivered his first major league hit with a line drive double down the left field line late in the game of a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The following evening, Milledge made a perfect throw on the fly to cut down a base runner attempting to go first to third on a base hit. Pretty impressive, especially when you factor in the Mets defeated Arizona 1-0 in 13 innings, and that outfield assist possibly prevented a potential winning run.
The season is still young and Milledge may find himself back down at Norfolk when Nady regains his health. Is he being showcases for a possible deal? Not likely. A shrewd General Manager such as Omar Minaya would have to be aware of the pitfalls in the event Milledge starts off slow. Even Strawberry struggled his first month in the big leagues, hitting under .200. Milledge must use this time to get experience and a better understanding of the game. He has the tools; he just has to learn how to use them properly.