Are you tired of columns telling you that the smart "pickups" each week are players who are already owned in your league … and more often than not sold for real money at auction? If you're hard-core, then this column is for you: real-world pickups for deep AL- or NL-only leagues.
Lastings Milledge, OF, NYM: Milledge is a top prospect, the kind of player who's already owned in most keeper leagues, either via a farm system or due to the fact that he was in the majors back in early April. Now, an injury to Carlos Gomez has made Milledge the Mets' everyday left fielder, which means that he's of substantial interest in single-year leagues as well. Milledge is a speedy, athletic 22-year-old who can play any of the outfield positions. He has outstanding bat speed and is expected to develop above-average power. He's still prone to strike out too much, but made significant progress with both his contact skills and batting eye last season. Moises Alou may not play much at all this year, and even if he does Milledge could win Shawn Green's job if he takes advantage of his current opportunity. If Milledge performs well, regular playing time could make him a serious asset for the remainder of 2007, especially in the stolen base department. However, there are some cautionary signs in his numbers so far this year. Milledge has been plagued by a strained ligament in his foot all season and has received only 73 at-bats in the minors this year, but there are some disturbing trends within that small sample. Both his contact rate and plate discipline have suffered precipitous drops from last year's progress. The overaggressive approach has paid dividends for Milledge so far, but is unlikely to yield the same results at the major league level. Also, his gaudy .343 average in the minors this year is the result of a fortuitous hit percentage. Milledge is still an excellent long-term property, and any keeper league owners who can get him should bid aggressively. For 2007, he'll get his opportunity and could end up being quite valuable, but know that there are red flags and don't overcommit to him.