With all the money the Chicago White Sox spent this offseason, trying to find a player to use their final expenses on was like Oprah looking for a piece of furniture in a thrift shop. Their final acquisition was outfielder Lastings Milledge who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season.
The Sox will be Milledge's third organization in the last five years. However, this last investment could be a steal when all is said and done.
At the beginning of last year when the Sox were not doing so well, articles were being written about what was missing. From quality hitting to a counselor to sort out the "Guillen-Williams" feud, one intriguing argument stood out: One aspect the White Sox lacked was an "oddball" or a player that could stir up some controversy.
Now, there are not many baseball fans outside the Chicagoland area that would invite Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski over for dinner, let alone accept his friend request on any social networking sites. Still, Pierzynski seems to have lost that "bad boy" label that was stamped on him during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
Since then he has not been a punching bag or a subject of any beanings. Even when the Sox were being pelted by Twins pitches last season Pierzynski chose to be a spectator and not throw gasoline on the fire. The Sox needed a man that would stick his head out there and cause pitchers to aim at him. This is where Lastings Milledge comes in.
Milledge was once a top prospect in the NewYork Mets organization. His bat and glove did most of the talking while he was in the minors. Then he got the call to join the big league team in New York and his actions began to speak volumes—right away he got under people's skins.
After belting his first home run he started "high-fiving" the Shea faithful. This and other antics caused pitches to be aimed at his head as well as more sensitive areas. His talk about how superior he thought he was messed with the mindset of his opponents. Instead of trying to strike him out, pitchers tried to hit him at all costs.
Even if his actions gave his team an extra boost at times, the Mets brass thought his show was too much. Four years and two organizations later, and after conversations about his lack of hustle, Milledge is now wearing a White Sox uniform.
Now, Milledge's numbers have declined drastically the past few years, but he is only 25 years-old. His $500,000 contract is peanuts to what the Sox spent on other players this offseason. His bat does not have that much pop and he is not a Gold Glove outfielder.
Still for his price tag the Sox are not looking for much.
Milledge's ability to be hated may be a small quality, but just look at a former White Sox oddball Carl Everett to see the impact that trait can have—Everett was a key part of the 2005 championship team. His lack of belief in dinosaurs and racy comments got him labeled as a "weirdo" who sparked hate in opponents.
When opposing pitchers looked at someone to bean they did not throw at Konerko, Dye or even Pierzynski, they threw at Everett.
The Sox needed depth in their outfield before spring training. Signing the young, hotheaded Milledge fills that void and brings a unique x-factor not seen on the South Side in quite some time.
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