Wednesday, April 15, 2009

So What Message Does THIS Send?

OK so let me get this straight. The reason Lastings had to get sent down was to send a message too him and everyone else on the team that you have to perform to be in the big leagues and that everyone would be held accountable for their results.

So who gets the call up? Roger Bernadina, aka The Flailing Dutchman. Let's look at his line through one week:
23 PA / 3 H / 0 XBH / 4 BB / 5 SO /.167 BA / .318 OBP / .167 SLG
Bernadina had this to say after he learned he was getting the call: "I was kind of surprised when I got the call up."

Yeah, no shit.

OK, so in fairness to Bernie (golly, can't we at least get good nicknames on this team? Zimmy, Kearnsy, Guzzy, Bergy, Belly, Bernie...), I must stress that we're dealing with an extremely small sample size. It's not fair to draw any conclusions about any player from 23 plate appearances, not Milledge and not Bernadina.

Still, based on Rizzo's own standard, what is it exactly that Bernadina's done in AAA that shows that he deserves to be with the MLB team more than Milledge? Milledge's line is practically identical to Bernadina's, save a couple fewer walks and more Ks, but basically the same bottom line. In fact, they have literally the exact same BA and SLG.

And before you tell me about his defense, let's take note of (again, SSS alert) Bernadina's -6.7 UZR/150 in 20 career games--over the course of a full season he'd cost the team almost 7 runs. He was even worse in CF.

How do you square that with this from Rizz, via Harlan:
Milledge's demotion, Rizzo said, doubled as a "message that we need for players to perform. We need players to adapt to the major leagues, and we need players to perform.
Oh, also we have this from Rizzo, FWIW:
"Lastings Milledge plays extremely hard. I have very little problems with Lastings' attitude and his work ethic."
If he's trying to send a message about his attitude, as some have speculated, that's a weird package to send it in. I know most people seem convinced that this is all about Milledge lack of professionalism, attitude, whatever... but let's consider for a moment that maybe Rizzo, who is not known for his guile, is telling it straight here. Milledge is not getting sent down because he missed a team meeting on his birthday (or whatever other egregious transgressions he's committed that the team isn't telling us about).

Some of the speculation in the last 24 hours was that Milledge was going down to room for Alex Cintron. Because of the rash of injuries to all our replacement-level second basemen, we're really kinda out of bodies, so someone has to go. Unfortunate, but Lastings has options, other guys don't, so until Harris or someone else comes back, Milledge goes down. But now we know that's not the deal, because his spot is being taken by Bernadina.

So why did they make this move? More and more, I'm with Harper. It's just a panic move. They're 0-7, and Rizzo feels the need to do something... anything. It's not a good omen for the current leadership of the team, but it's certainly possible that this is a move that will have little lasting significance. As I said yesterday, we shall see.

42 comments:

Sean Hogan said...

It sorta makes me think it's a PT thing...like I said yesterday, maybe Manny's finally angry at Millz and wasn't gonna play him enough. Milledge needs constant AB's-was he going to continue to get them in the Majors?

e poc said...

I think people rightfully have different expectations for the performances of a starting centerfielder and a fifth outfielder.

Mr. Mustache said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Mustache said...

C'mon Steven. You're better than this.

Don't overlook the playing time element. (God willing) Bernadina isn't going to be playing everyday up here. We don't care if he wastes away on the bench. Bernie isn't better than Milledge and he doesn't deserve it more. He's there so Kearns doesn't have to be the backup CF (shudder).

We care if Milledge doesn't get at bats. You, I, Keith Law, and every other baseball analyst agree that Milledge needs at bats and time in the field. He's not helping the major league club right now and he has options. He's harming the on field product and forcing our young pitchers to throw more innings than necessary.

The move makes sense. Sure it also allows craptacular aging players like Kearns and Willingham to play more, but those guys need to be showcased a little if we want to flip them.

The only way you should be complaining about calling up Bernie is if you think there is a non-Milledge player who can play an average MLB CF sitting in AAA that doesn't have much potential. If Willie was healthy, I'd imagine Bernie would still be in AAA and rightfully so.

JayB said...

Agreeed...Weak Effort here Steven.....Roger is going to be the 5th OF not the Starting CF. Roger can play CF or any other field 10 times better than Lastsings.....get over it.

An Briosca Mor said...

Didn't Bernadina have a pretty good spring? Unlike, say...Milledge?

And as for Rizzo's comment about having no problem with Milledge's attitude, etc, you need to realize that a professional GM (unlike, say...Bowden) does not reveal the intricacies of what he shares with his players to the press. You can bet that Rizzo did not give an attaboy to Lastings before he sent him down.

Steven said...

You guys gotta get your story straight. Now you're saying that he needs to go down for player development? That he's overmatched in the big leagues and that he needs to go to AAA to learn? That's completely wrong. Going to AAA slows his development. He has nothing left to learn there. He needs to compete against MLB competition to get better.

As for the "bad attitude" myth, listen to what the team is saying. He's getting a complete and total stamp of approval from the GM and the manager.

If the GM's message to Milledge was "you need to fix your attitude and work harder," then there's nothing unprofessional about saying publicly, "we need Lastings to fix his attitude and work harder." In fact, if that's the issue, it's counterproductive and stupid to say, "he's never been an attitude problem and has a great work ethic."

The explanation for this move was that it was about accountability--that you have to perform to get promoted. The Bernadina move undermines that. Now, I personally don't think that it's a legitimate motive for the move in the first place, this "sending a message" business. But supposedly that's the new regime in town, and that needs to be executed consistently to have any value, however misguided this approach may be.

Basil said...

There isn't really any direct message being given, insofar as Rog's promotion was hastened by the injury to Willie Harris.

I think the story today is the same as the story yesterday. Milledge was having offensive and defensive struggles, and his attitude was rubbing people in the organization the wrong way. He had an option year remaining, and pawning him off to Syracuse to work through some things was a way to try to restore some order to the roster. It's not really a sample size thing, because no one in the organization believes that his actual talent has changed one iota offensively. He puts in his time, and he'll be back at the next inevitable big injury.

As for the attitude thing, I'm not in any position to state what the deal is there, of course, so I can't do any better than speculate. But it's possible Rizzo isn't taking it completely straight in the second quote, because he inserted the "adapt to the major leagues" part in the first quote. It could refer to performance, or it could refer to the major league lifestyle/customs (not an unreasonable interpretation, given the fine story). Besides, while I've noticed that you like to place comments "for the record" or the like here, I know you realize that not every front office quote can be taken for the truth of the matter asserted, and not every unsourced remark in a newspaper article is made up out of whole cloth. I'm not saying that's what your thinking on the matter here is, but it does sort of come across that way in (electronic) print.

Steven said...

JayB--Bernadina's been a solidly below average fielder, btw, worse in CF than Milledge. Your hate for Lastings is convincing you that any old bum is better, and that's not right.

JayB said...

Steven,

Roger is filling in as the 5th OF....Milledge was the Starting CF. You are wrong that he has nothing to learn in AAA.....he has a ton to learn about playing CF. He has a ton to learn about Lead Off.....To say he can only learn those skills in MLB is absurd.

Grover said...

Steven, I'm with you on 98% of the stuff you write, and you do the club and the fanbase a service with this site. But I think you're totally wrong on this one. Milledge was sent down to work on his game- he lacked plate discipline and was struggling at CF. Once that decision was made, the team needed someone who was at least capable of manning CF if Dukes gets hurt or needs a day off for some reason. You can't have an MLB team that only has one player capable of fielding a particular position.

You've been acting like sending down Milledge is somehow equivalent to cutting or trading him. He's still with the organization. Why not allow him to play CF every day to hone his skills AND give the major league club a better chance to win right now at the same time?

You've also been lumping all the people who favor the move together as one voice, saying "you guys need to get your story straight." We don't all speak from the same exact perspective, and to assume that we do and then say we're contradicting ourselves so we must be wrong is kind of a straw man argument.

Steven said...

Grover--

I'm interpreting this as putting Milledge's future with the team on the back-burner. I believe that for him, at his age and stage of development, the best way to get him better is to have him compete against big league pitching. Reasonable people can disagree, but that's my view. So we're slowing his development in order to do what?

Explanation one is that we're "sending a message" that if you don't perform you don't play. If they brought up JMax, who's hitting pretty well, then I could see that. But the message explanation loses credence with me the minute you bring up a guy hitting .167.

I don't buy the attitude explanation because what I see in front of my eyes every day is a guy who plays hard, cheers for his teammates, and does what the team asks him to do. He was moved to the lead-off spot, and he starting taking a lot more pitches. It actually seems to have hurt him at the plate, but he tried. All the people who complain about his so-called attitude have nothing more concrete than a) he missed a team meeting on his birthday (c'mon now--you never missed a meeting for work?), b) the claim that "where there's smoke there's fire" and c) fuddy-duddy gripes about his appearance and taste in music. I don't buy any of that.

I don't even think that this makes us better in the short term because you're just giving more at bats to players who aren't much if at all better than Milledge even now--Kearns and Willingham.

So I think through all the different reasons and I can't find one that makes sense to me. Therefore I conclude this was a senseless panic move made by an interim GM trying to create the impression that he's "doing stuff."

Actually the one thing that's been suggested that does make some logical sense is that he started this season with 2.004 years of service time. Therefore by sending him down for a couple months, the team can save a few bucks by pushing back his arb date a year. Dollars to donuts, that's a bigger part of the rationale than any mythical "attitude problem."

Grover said...

I guess my only disagreement with that would be:

1. I don't see this as a back-burner move. I'd like to see him back with the club by the all-star break. In the meantime, it was clear that he lacked the patience at the plate to lead off and the fielding instincts to play CF properly. I'd rather he work on those things at the minor league level so we don't have to watch him swinging out of his shoes at every pitch that's near the zone at leadoff for the major league club.

2. I think this does help the club right now. Willingham's preseason PECOTA numbers are better than Milledge's. Kearn's aren't far behind, and what little he sacrifices on offense he makes up for on defense. And those are based on Milledge's ,preseason projections- I think we all agree that the guy we saw last week didn't look like a .281 EqA hitter.

dcmisery said...

Regardless of attitude, performance, whatever, what if Mike Rizzo is not high on Milledge? How long should he be forced to stick with Bowden's mistakes while he is trying to earn a job? The team is never going to give the explanation "we think our young outfielder is not as much as a commodity as the previous GM had hoped," which would be an explanation as to why we get this performance B.S.

I've thought all along that the "panic" move was giving Milledge the leadoff spot. To me it was a team desperate to find value in a player that they were quickly losing faith in. I'm not saying Milledge is done, but too many people are looking at him with Jim Bowden eyes, which is probably a mistake.

Moe Greene said...

The sky is blue.
Green beans are green.
Carrots are orange.
Lastings Milledge needed a reality check.

The other commentors are right. Rizzo is being a profressional by not throwing Lastings under Jerome Bettis. Rizzo even said himself that he and Lastings Mendoza had a nice chat prior to the demotion about why he was being sent down. I take that as Rizzo told him the real reason and will leave it at that. It's wrong for me to assume these things, but it's no secret that Milledge is a me-first kind of guy.

Or, did we all make this shit up?

Steven said...

"it's no secret that Milledge is a me-first kind of guy."I really have no idea what you're basing this on. He's been nothing but a good teammate every day he's been with the team. You show me someone other than Paul Lo Duca who has said anything remotely resembling "Lastings Milledge is a me-first kind of guy." If you take Paul Lo Duca as a character witness, then that's your problem.

Steven said...

Grover:

Most of the projection systems have Willingham a bit better offensively than Milledge, and Kearns a notch below both of them.

PECOTA projects Millege as a .281 EqA hitter, with Kearns at .275 and Willingham at .288. Similar, CHONE has Milledge as a .348 wOBA hitter, with Hammer at .362 and Kearns at .341.

But then you have to factor in fielding. Both Willingham and Milledge are bad fielders who based on which advanced metric you look at should both be expected to cost you about a game a year (8-10 runs) over the course of the season with their gloves.

Then you also have to make the position adjustment. You're getting that level of performance from Milledge in CF, whereas Willingham is costing you those runs in LF. Put Kearns in CF and he'll cost you even more than Milledge.

So this begs the question, how about Milledge in RF? We haven't seen him there enough to use any advanced metrics, but it's my gut that he'd be at least an average fielder out there, maybe better. RF is a LOT easier to play than CF. And if he's average in RF, he's certainly more valuable than Willingham, and probably as valuable as Kearns. It's close to a wash, and for a team this bad we should be evaluating everything in terms of what's going to help us get to contention 2-3 years from now, not from what will help us get from 59 wins to 63, but the reality is that playing Kearns or Willingham in RF is probably a wash and maybe a step back from playing Milledge there, even now.

An Briosca Mor said...

Bernadina's been a solidly below average fielder, btw, worse in CF than MilledgeWhen Bernadina took over in CF last summer after Milledge and then Dukes got hurt, there was no dropoff in CF defense as a result. The dropoff was at the plate, and apparently Bernadina has changed some things and improved there since last season. Manny and the FO were impressed by Bernadina's batting during ST this year - they said so several times.

As a fifth OFer and replacement for Milledge in the gang of five, Bernadina is a decided upgrade.

Michael said...

Steven, I'm a Milledge fan, but I really don't think sending him down is that much of a problem, if they go about it the right way. In my view, he's an emotional and spirited player (which to me is likable), which some folks have irrationally decided to view as a bad attitude. So while the initial dismay of being sent back down could be detrimental, if - and this is the big IF of the issue - they really work on developing 3 things with him: 1) better pitch selection/drawing more walks, 2) how to take charge in center, and 3) how to minimize base running mistakes.

I think he's a got a batter chance to learn, because with the slightly lower talent level, he'll see positive results more quickly in whatever adjustments he needs to make, and build up his confidence while not having the media second guess his play in terms of how bad the Nats are right now. Think about it, few people will be talking about Milledge in a few weeks, so let him have some growing pains in May hopefully followed by some mastery in June, and if we're REALLY lucky, Willingham have will have .275/.365/.475, 10 HR, 30-40 RBI first half, and something, anything, out of that dreadful signing, perhaps a minor upgrade at 2B (a below average guy would be an upgrade right now).

An Briosca Mor said...

I'm interpreting this as putting Milledge's future with the team on the back-burner.However you want to spin it, Milledge himself is the one who has put his future with the team on the back burner. If you're gonna be a major leaguer, eventually you need to step up. And he didn't.

Steven said...

ABM--really? your position is that Bernadina is a better player straight up than Milledge? Now you're really backing yourself into a corner. I think you'd have a hard time finding any scout or projection that agrees with you.

Steven said...

Michael--your position is a reasonable one, but I don't agree with it. I think he needs to be in MLB to learn how to succeed here. I don't think he has much to learn hitting off of guys like Mike O'Connor and Kip Wells.

Besides, if the team feels he needs to be at AAA to take the next step, did they really decide that based on 23 PA? REmember, a week ago he was their unquestioned lead-off man and CF. That's a radical change in how you evaluate a player in such a short time.

Chris Needham said...

"I really have no idea what you're basing this on. He's been nothing but a good teammate every day he's been with the team. You show me someone other than Paul Lo Duca who has said anything remotely resembling "Lastings Milledge is a me-first kind of guy." If you take Paul Lo Duca as a character witness, then that's your problem."

You're asking one side to give evidence of something, but not providing any evidence of your own.

But you're missing the farking point.

It's nto that he's bad in the clubhouse. It's that he doesn't want to put anything more than the bare minimum into doing his job.

He's the guy in the office that shows up at 8. Leaves promptly at 4. Never asks if his coworkers needs help. Does his own thing.

That's fine if you're content to be a peon -- a bench player, if you will.

Steven said...

Chris--I'm providing the testimony of the manager and the GM, both of whom say unequivocally that attitude and work ethic aren't the problem. That carries no weight with you?

redcottageaudio said...

I'm amazed this is generating as much controversy as it is.

If Milledge is not willing to put the extra hours into turning himself into a centre fielding lead-off man, as a big leaguer then he goes to the place where one does learn that sort of thing.

Maybe he will learn to work a bit hard through shock. You can only hope.

In the mean time we have two guys who can hit, but can't defend, one natural outfielder and Austin Kearns. So naturally you bring someone up who can field all three position (useful if we ever need to defend a lead), and can cover centre, where we have exactly no cover right now.

Milledge needs time to learn his trade, Bernardina is now basically what he will be for his whole life (ie Langerhans with slightly more contact and abit more speed).

Steven said...

redcottage--the controversy is that the GM and manager say that "hours, attitude, work ethic..." has nothing to do with it.

The media, starting in NY, created a narrative about Milledge out of whole cloth, which was all about how he's a lazy, me-first guy. What did he do? He gave fans high-5s and was unlucky enough to become the target of ribbing by team asshole Paul Lo Duca.

Now, Nationals fans, understandably frustrated at the 0-7 start, are venting their anger on Milledge. Why? Maybe because that's easier to accept than the simple fact that this is a barren, talentless franchise at least 3-4 years away from respectability. It's happier to think that maybe if we just have a Knute Rockne speech and fire some underachievers that the team will get some heart and improve. That's what I think a lot of people are clinging to.

I'm just saying it makes no sense to take out your frustration on one of the few somewhat talented guys around here.

JayB said...

"Remember, a week ago he was their unquestioned lead-off man and CF" ----Steven...that was Acta's voice you quote.....Acta and Jimbo both loved Milledge but even Jimbo saw the CF problem after 500 AB's last year. You keep focusing on 28 AB's but what you do not address is not the Stats but the problems of Spring Training. Rizzo and the Front Office are basing this decision on what they saw in Spring Training. I was there too for 7 days....I ran into outs often...he misplayed balls...swung at first pitches in the dirt, he throw 10 hop balls into the infield. These are not Spring Training Stats they are data points on progress he was told he needed to show. He did not show any progress at all...NONE....Let him grow up at the appropriate AAA level....just like everyone else in Baseball. He is hurt by Acta and your babying of him.

His own comments about his defense (nobody would catch those balls...I did everything perfect approach tone) is just not the way you win a job in Major League Baseball....you win a job my performing and improving....HE DID NOT DO IT all SPRING...not just in 7 games.

e poc said...

This will be my last post on the subject.

Stephen, I love your blog and agree with you most of the time, but you're getting increasingly ridiculous on this subject. I think you'll have to admit that the expectations for Milledge and Bernardina are justifiably quite different. I also think you'll have to admit that there are legitimate concerns about Milledge's game, so while you can gripe about commenters here who think Milledge has an attitude problem, I don't think you should let that gripe affect your judgment of what the team is doing with Milledge. No one in the organization has expressed any problems with him, so let's just assume they're acting in good faith.

But now you seem to have taken the position that a) Milledge can't learn anything else at AAA, and b) Kearns and Willingham aren't an improvement over Milledge.

A: If people couldn't learn to hit or field in the majors by playing in the minors, there would be no minor leagues. Of course you can learn to hit and field in the minors. Fielding and strike zone judgment, in fact, are the things you can learn best in the minors, since whether you're hitting against Mike O'Connor or Johan Santana, strikes and balls are the same, and fly balls off of Corey Patterson's bat will play the same as fly balls off of Ryan Howard's. Milledge could easily hit better at AAA than in the majors, but improving strike zone judgment means more than getting extra base hits off of weaker sliders. Besides, Milledge has never hit or fielded in the majors, and in his 359 AAA at-bats, he's only 275/379/426. That's not a lot of experience and not exactly stellar. It's not hard to argue that Milledge could use more time in the minors.

B: Chone conveniently provides projected win values for every player. If you think that Milledge and Willingham are bad defenders and Kearns is good, then Chone values them at 1.4, 1.6, and 1.6 wins above replacement respectively. But Chone projects Willingham as only slightly below average on defense and Milledge as a bit worse than bad. If you go strictly by the offensive and defensive projections (plus positional adjustment), Chone values Willingham at 2 WAR, Kearns at 1.6, and Milledge at 1.4. Chone, at least, sees both Willingham and Kearns as clearly better than Milledge, and as they have proven track records at the major league level and need to get PT if they're going to fetch value in trade, it's again not hard to argue that demoting Milledge is justifiable. What's especially upsetting is that you could have looked this up or figured it out for yourself, but you just looked up some offensive stats and then got vague about defense and positional adjustments. You even appealed to your gut in defending your belief that Milledge would be better in a corner than in cf. While that may be true, your gut isn't a strong source, and it's worth noting that in a small sample (about half the size of Milledge's cf sample), he's been twice as bad in the corners as he is in center. It's fine if you think that the half a win difference between Milledge and Kearns/Willingham is no big deal for the 2009 Nats. I agree with that. But just go ahead and say that instead of trying to mislead us with weak analysis, which just sounds like a cover for your predetermined attitude.

Finally, you suggest that bringing up Maxwell would make more sense in the context than bringing up Bernardina, because Max is playing well. But again, we already have four starting outfielders. We don't want to bring up a top prospect so that he can sit on the bench. What we needed was a fifth outfielder, and that's why Bernardina is here. His performance is beside the point, because he's the 25th man on the roster and a non-prospect. Milledge was the starting cf and a big part of the future, which is why his performance, as well as his development, mattered. Until now, I've hesitated to discuss Milledge's performance this year because it is a small sample. But geez, when you've got a 24-year-old who hit 268/330/402 last year and struck out in 10 of 24 at-bats to start the season after a miserable spring, I think some concern is justified.

I wouldn't have sent Milledge down, honestly. But I think you're way off base in trying to argue that the Nats weren't justified in doing it or are sending mixed messages or are in any other way being stupid. It's a reasonable move.

Steven said...

JayB--I promise you Milledge has not been helped or hindered one iota by anyting I've written here!

An Briosca Mor said...

I'm providing the testimony of the manager and the GM, both of whom say unequivocally that attitude and work ethic aren't the problem.You still haven't figured out that a baseball manager or GM answering a beat reporter's question is not the same thing as the head of GM testifying under oath before Congress?

Steven said...

ABM--why would they lie? If the idea here is to instill some tough love to "send a message," why wouldn't they say publicly, "we're doing this to send a message. the kid's not working hard enough." I see no motivation to lie here.

Basil said...

I'm providing the testimony of the manager and the GM, both of whom say unequivocally that attitude and work ethic aren't the problem. That carries no weight with you?I think you make a good case that demoting Milledge was kind of pointlessly rash, but it also seems like you're radically misusing words like "testimony" and "weight."

Mr. Mustache said...

Let me first say that Milledge is my favorite player on the team. I clearly do not hate the guy or think he is not an extremely valuable asset to the team.

You can learn at AAA. You can get your swing back. You can be forced to make plays in CF. Look at Rickie Weeks or BJ Upton. Both on crap teams. Both now having success despite being sent down early in their career for players who were not as talented. Its not just that he is struggling at this level. Its that his struggles are hurting the fanbase, the pitching staff, and his own morale. Its the attitude as well.

As for Milledge's work ethic or attitude, I'm going to weigh his actions and his own words over the words of his manager to the media. Even you Steven have to agree that Manny isn't going to bad mouth him.

This is obviously just a random person's observation, but I think its pretty much in line with other whispers, his past with the Mets and moves by the team. Courtesy of Federal Baseball:

From Nationals Journal comments under: Lots Of Walks, No Runs

"Lastings....what can I say...I really tried not to be just looking for negatives but they were everywhere....before the game he as Anderson H, Guz and Zim and Josh W and Nick were stretching, he was standing with his thumbs in his belt. It you could just tell someone was going to say something and sure enough Strength Coach walked up to him and got in his face.....pointed to his legs and encouraged him to do what was expected....he did a few stretches and jogged away to OF where he put his thumbs back into his belt and stood for 10 minutes....During the National anthem he was the only player not to take off his doo rag hat.......Again last one out and last one in between innings but some running...it was better......Warm up throws between innings was just amazing....Josh W was throwing BB's on a line to him and he would toss a side arm rainbow that bounced to Josh or land at his shoes....you could just tell each time Josh would throw it back harder.....just amazing he does not get it at ALL.....Routes to the ball hit to him were just as bad or worse really than last year. One ball hit to Right Center Langerhans moved nicely in and made an easy play out of it....Lastings took several steps back before coming in....Next ball to Left Center could have been caught with a good jump but Milledge froze and then ran a zig zag pattern and picked it up on the second hop. Runner going around second even coaxed a throw before stopping.....Lastings throw from shallow Left Center bounced so many times before it got to 3rd base it was rolling when Belliard got it..........At bat he took several pitches but also swung at some bad ball that bounced in front of the plate....not much improvement to be seen.......So I did try but to my eye on game one.....same old Lastings.....I will give him a clean slate next game.....but what Acta sees I do not know."

Excerts from Chico Harlan's interview in NJ.
Milledge: "I mean, the thing was, the first time I came out [to NY] everybody was like, 'You've got to be this way.' I have to show up at the park at a certain time or whatever. I just kind of separated myself from people who were like that. I'm not going to say who, but you know. Sometimes jealousy comes with it. But if you're here you're here. It doesn't matter if you're here for 20 years. We're all playing at the highest level, and we're all major league players. We're all even."

Q: Why do you say that? Couldn't that just cause you more trouble than it's worth?

LM: Because nobody else can play the game for you. Nobody else is going to give you the money. Nobody is going to give his spot up for you. If I was to walk away from this game today or I wasn't able to compete at this level anymore, then I have no regrets. I did it my way. Nobody else told me what I need to do. I didn't try nobody else's way. I tried my way. And if I just couldn't play this game, I can live with that. But I couldn't live with failing by trying somebody else's way.

Q: OK, you keep talking about 'your way,' but what does that mean?

LM: You know, there's always a thing where, Oh, rookies have to be here 2-1/2 or three hours before stretch. No. I'm not gonna be here three hours before stretch. If you're here and you get your work in, it shouldn't matter how early you're at the field. You know what you need to do. That's fine. You don't have to be at the park three, four hours before the park if you don't want. You don't see nobody clocking in three or four hours before they have to show up to work. So, I mean, some people feel like they have to get here to read the newspaper or do crossword puzzles or get their mind ready. I feel like I come to the park, I have 45 minutes of stuff I have to do to get prepared for practice and get ready for the game. Five minutes might be watching videos. Fifteen minutes might be going in the cage. And then getting whatever other work I need.

Q: So what about here? Is it a better fit?

LM: Yeah, because the veterans we do have let us to be us. We'll get ourselves ready. Don't try to change who we are. I'll always be a guy who lets you know when I do something good and, you know, I'm kind of a guy who, if I'm not good enough, I'll tell you. I'm not gonna say I'm the best centerfielder that ever walked on the planet. No. If I'm horse [manure], I'll tell you I'm horse [manure]. I messed up some times, and I told you about it. I'll tell you. I'll say, I was horse [manure] today. I'll be better tomorrow.

All of this is available in this thread on wnff.com. http://www.wnff.net/index.php/topic,12396.0.html

That screams to me that someone doesn't understand how to work to get better and how a team works.

Chris Needham said...

"ABM--why would they lie? If the idea here is to instill some tough love to "send a message," why wouldn't they say publicly, "we're doing this to send a message. the kid's not working hard enough." I see no motivation to lie here."

Seriously?

You think teams give you the honest truth? That they say EVERY thing? That they don't do things behind closed doors? That the reasons they say for doing something aren't always the reasons they do?

You can't think of a SINGLE REASON why the team might not be forthcoming?

Sure, maybe they are being 100% honest. But you can't say that with anything approaching the certainty you seem to be showing.

An Briosca Mor said...

"ABM--why would they lie? If the idea here is to instill some tough love to "send a message," why wouldn't they say publicly, "we're doing this to send a message. the kid's not working hard enough." I see no motivation to lie here."

Why do you think they're lying? And why do you think they are required to explain to the press every single reason behind everything they do? Clearly, Milledge wasn't cutting it so they decided to send him down. It could be as simple as "We have a crowded outfield and need to make some room. Can't get a trade worked out yet for Kearns or Willingham. Dukes is smashing the cover off the ball. Milledge OTOH is underperforming and has options left. Let's send him down for a while."

And I'm surprised you can't figure out that Bernadina isn't the replacement for Milledge. He's the fifth outfielder, in a sense the replacement for Willie Harris who is on the DL and even when he gets back will playing a lot of infield.

Chris Needham said...

I hate having to agree with you, ABM! ;)

An Briosca Mor said...

There are some Universal Truths that everyone agrees with, Chris. Well, almost everyone.

Steven said...

I can think of a million things that the team would hide or not be straight with the public about.

However the point that some are arguing is tat the motivation for this move was to send a message to Lastings about his attitude and work ethic. If your goal is to send a message, you don't say loudly something that directly contradicts the message that you'r supposedly trying to send. It makes no sense.

Chris Needham said...

1) you're assuming that what's said publicly is what's said privately.

2) you're assuming that what's said is the only type of message being sent -- that bus ride from syracuse to portland will send a completely different one.

3) if the team has soured on milledge, why would they shit all over him publicly, hurting whatever trade value he has?

Steven said...

1) you're assuming that what's said publicly is what's said privately.

NO I'M NOT. I'M ASSUMING THAT IN ORDER TO SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE THAT IT IS USUALLY HELPFUL NOT TO CONTRADICT YOURSELF.

2) you're assuming that what's said is the only type of message being sent -- that bus ride from syracuse to portland will send a completely different one.

SOUNDS LIKE AN OLD GIRLFRIEND OF MINE. NO MEANS YES. YES MEANS NO. I'M SUPPOSED TO READ YOUR MIND I GUESS?

3) if the team has soured on milledge, why would they shit all over him publicly, hurting whatever trade value he has?

IF TRADE VALUE IS YOUR CONCERN, THEN THE WORST THING THEY COULD DO IS TO SEND HIM DOWN. THAT'S GOING TO LOWER HIS TRADE VALUE A HECK OF A LOT MORE THAN IF RIZZO SAID, "HE'S A YOUNG GUY AND HE NEEDS TO FOCUS BETTER ON DOING HIS JOB TO THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF PROFESSIONALISM...."

An Briosca Mor said...

"However the point that some are arguing is tat the motivation for this move was to send a message to Lastings about his attitude and work ethic."

It's only second or third hand sources unconnected with the team who are saying this. The team's not. So why is it the team that's lying and not these other sources? Maybe the team's motivation for sending Milledge down is as they have stated, and if he happens to get a message from it, well that's icing on the cake and they're not going to complain about it.

El Rey said...

What's the big fuzz? If Milledge doesn't know how to play center field in his early twenties, he'll probably never learn. I don’t buy into the youth or experience excuse. Properly fielding a fly ball is baseball fundamentals 101. I guess Milledge missed those meetings, too. The Prophet Elijah can play in center and help cover left field since Dunn is such a horrible outfielder. I'm not sold on Lasting Milledge and I'm not convinced Z Man is a superstar in making (although he will be a very good player). However, Elijah Dukes has a chance to become a true star. Too bad the Nats didn’t keep Emilio Bonifacio (El Conejo - The rabbit) who is tearing things up right now altough it is still early in the season. Paz (Peace).