Thursday, April 7, 2011

White Sox DFA Lastings Milledge

This move comes as a bit of a surprise. I wrote about how much I liked the Lastings Milledge signing in it's wake, and in brief time, it's worked well. But with the White Sox desperate for relief help after exhausting their bullpen the past couple games against the Royals, they're decided to designate him for assignment - where he'll almost certainly be lost to waivers - to bring up Jeff Gray.

The 30 year old Gray has spent parts of three seasons with the Athletics and Cubs, working out of those clubs bullpens. A fastball-slider pitcher who has averaged 93.7 on his fastball, he pairs a hard slider in the mid to upper 80s. Gray's stuff profiles as swing-and-miss but so far it hasn't translated to the Majors as he's managed just 6.02 strikeouts per nine so far.

The move signals just how much the team values Brent Lillibridge and his ability to come in as a pinch runner. It also likely means that Dayan Viciedo will not be headed back to the minors once he's recovered from his broken finger, but will rather serve as a bench bat while occasionally seeing time in the outfield.

At first blush I find the move perplexing. The team seems to have little desire to utilize Lillibridge in any capacity beyond defensive replacement and pinch runner, which stands to reason, he's is a very poor hitter. Yet Lillibridge probably had a better chance of clearing waivers than Milledge and his skill set is far easier to replace than that of the former Mets prospect.

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