Tuesday's news that Lastings Milledge was being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse came as a bit of a surprise. (Although Tom Boswell's column telegraphed it nicely.)
Was it a good decision? A bad one? It all depends on who you were reading. The large group of Nats Bloggers certainly had a field day with it.
Some see it as the death of the Nats' vaunted "PLAN!":
"Now, it appears, that might be all over.... [B]ecause we want to protect playing time for a [B]couple 30-year-old bottom-tier corner outfielders, we're going to send Lastings Milledge down to AAA....
Now, 26 plate appearances into the new season, he's off to Syracuse. There's no argument really that Milledge struggled... for a week. You know who struggles for a week once in a while? Every[bleeping]one. Babe Ruth had bad weeks, man."
Others say it's a good move because it sends a message:
"By his own remarks, Lastings Milledge says everything will always work out. He's never at fault--not even for nearly skipping a mandatory team meeting on Sunday April 5th in South Florida. A "I am celebrating my birthday decision" that found Lastings fined, but not suspended....
That's immaturity. Lastings Milledge was not ready for the responsibilities that Our Manager Manny Acta gave him when Manny named Lastings Leadoff Man."
Fangraphs says it's a good decision because Milledge just isn't ready.
"With too many outfielders on the roster, a trip back to the minors might be in everyone’s best interest. Milledge has some significant improving to do before he can lay claim to an everyday job, and the Nationals have better options on the roster. How much longer do they put up with replacement level performance from a kid who should be able to produce much more?"
But the best argument against the move comes from Oleanders and Morning Glories. He worries about the appearance of panic this sends: "From 'He's my starting CF and leadoff man' to AAA in 7 games? That's the sign of a team that doesn't know what the hell it's doing."
But OMG raises another point. What does this demotion say about Manny Acta's authority. Milledge, after all, was his guy. He was the one defending him, and assigning him the roles before the first pitch of spring.
Does this undermine Manny?
With the team's crappy play, and Acta's tenuous contract situation, his leash is growing shorter by the day.
Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment. He hopes Manny's paid his mortgage off.