As if Lastings Milledge needed any more motivation to make the Washington Nationals' Opening Day roster than showing the New York Mets that they made a mistake by trading him to DC,(for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church), the Nationals offered Milledge further incentive on Friday when they signed the soon-to-be twenty-three year old outfielder to a two-way contract that will pay Milledge $402,500 if he stays in the Majors and $145,075 if he starts the season in the Minor Leagues.
That's a $257,425 dollar incentive for Lastings Milledge to win the starting job in center field for the Nationals, and $19,500 dollars more than the $383,000 dollars Milledge played for last season in New York, if he does, and just $7,500 more than the $395,000 dollar salary the twenty-eight year old outfielder Ryan Church, who Milledge will be replacing, received for his efforts last season in DC.
Nationals GM Jim Bowden once again expressed the optimism the organization has that Milledge will develop into the five-tool player everyone saw just a few seasons ago in the Mets' system when he told mlb.com's Bill Ladson in the oft-quoted article entitled, "Q&A with Jim Bowden" from 01/05/2008, that:
"...Milledge will be given every chance to be the starting
center fielder. Manny(Acta) has made that very clear. We
think he has tremendous upside. We think four or five
years from now, he will develop into a middle of the order
In an article by Washington Post sports writer Barry Svrluga entitled, "Schneider, Church dealt for Milledge", at washingtonpost.com, Mr. Svrluga quotes Nationals Manager Manny Acta, who vouches for Lasting Milledge's often questioned "character" when he says, of his previous professional contact with Milledge, when Acta coached in NY:
"I can assure you that Lastings is a good kid...He came up
to the big leagues very young in a very tough spot...He
just wasn't prepared to handle that."
Three years later the Nationals are hoping that Milledge has improved mentally and physically enough to handle an entire season starting in the Majors. One things is for sure, Milledge is excited about the chance. In Mr. Svrluga's article, Milledge seems to agree with Acta's assessment, offering:
"When I was struggling a little bit up there and everybody
seemed to be against me, Manny was there for me...He
gave me some words of encouragement...It made me a
better person. It made me a better ballplayer. It helped
me, at a young age, to really play in a big market and
really have everyone against you at one point."
If that was Milledge's reaction to the way he was treated within the Mets' organization, how is he going to react to being traded? And I swear to...If Pedro or any of the Mets' pitchers starts hitting Milledge like they used to hit Jose Guillen...Well let's just say NATIONALS' catcher Paul Lo Duca and the boys are gonna have Milledge's back now...
*Lastings Milledge Links*
mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Nats agree to terms with eight" at washington.nationals.mlb.com:
Lastings Milldge's stats and salary info at baseball-reference.com":
Mets' Outfielder Ryan Church's stats at baseball-reference.com:
Lastings Milledge's stats at thebaseballcube.com:
mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Q&A with Jim Bowden", at washington.nationals.mlb.com:
Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga's article, "Schneider, Church dealt for Milledge", at washingtonpost.com: