Name: Aaron Miles
DOB: December 15, 1976
Became a Cardinal: Acquired from the Colorado Rockies with outfielder Larry Bigbie in exchange for pitcher Ray King on December 7, 2005.
2005 Season Highlights: Miles spent a month on the disabled list with a right intercostal strain, but still led the Rockies in starts at second base with 69. In 99 games, he hit .281/.308/.355 with two home runs and 28 RBI.
HITTING: Miles lost some playing time last season after Luis Gonzalez was moved to second base. The switch hitting Miles usually does a solid job from both sides of the plate. In 2004, he hit .267 against lefties and .301 against right-handed pitchers. His numbers dropped some in 2005, hitting just .234 against left-handed pitchers and .292 against right-handers.
His hitting style is to go the other way, dumping singles in the holes. He has a compact short stroke and makes good contact. He'll remind you some of David Eckstein, in that he doesn't have great tools, but he still manages to get the job done.
In 2004, Miles led major league rookies with 153 hits and 75 runs scored and he led the National League rookies with a .293 average.
After the promising rookie season, Miles ended up on the DL in May last year with a chest muscle injury and appeared in only 99 games for the Colorado Rockies.
Miles is not coming to St. Louis with a guaranteed job as the Cardinals' second basemen, that job appears to be Junior Spivey's. If Miles can beat out Spivey for the starter's job, he certainly isn't going to bat leadoff. His .281 batting average you could almost live with, but an on base percentage of .306 from last season, does not project you as a possible top of the lineup batter.
According to Brian Walton, "While characterized as a "go the other way, slap hitter", Miles is not patient with the bat. Despite leading off much of his time at Colorado, Miles may be more suitable as a #2 man. That is a spot that needs filling after Larry Walker's retirement.
With every player coming from Colorado, the question is always asked. "How much of the player's success is due to altitude?" Miles' splits are not great. He has a .255 road career batting average versus .321 at Coors."
If Miles gets some playing time in St. Louis, Cardinal fans are going to like him. He's a very hard worker, perhaps even an over-achiever, in the tradition of fan favorites, Rex Hudler, Joe McEwing, Bo Hart and David Eckstein.
DEFENSE: Miles isn't going to remind you of a Tommy Herr or Ozzie Smith, he isn't near as smooth around the bag, but he uses positioning and instincts to make up for his lack of range and talent.
Miles is considered an average second baseman, with a strong arm for the position and is very aggressive in turning the double play. He's a tough kid and you won't have to worry about him bailing out on a close play.
BASERUNNING: He has some speed on the base paths, but it wouldn't hurt for him to spend time with St. Louis Cardinals' special instructor and Hall of Famer, Lou Brock. In nine minor league seasons, Miles had 135 stolen bases but was caught stealing 87 times. During that time, he had multiple seasons of 20+ SBs in the minors, but never had a success rate higher than 68%. That carried over into the majors, as Miles has been successful in only 12 of 19 SB attempts.
He's aggressive, which is why you will love him and he'll take the extra base, if he thinks he has any chance at all to reach the next base safely.
He gets the most from his limited ability and will have to have a very good spring to make the Cardinals roster, to open the season.
2006 OUTLOOK - Before the Cardinals signed Junior Spivey, Miles probably thought he had the job at second base. Barring any injuries, Miles is probably going to be competing against infielders, Hector Luna and Deivi Cruz for a job on the Cards' bench. Miles basically is a second baseman, where he played all his games last season, with the exception of one game at short. He did play some at third in 1998 for Quad Cities and in 2003 for Charlotte in the International League. Miles will have to prove he can play, second, short and third if he is going to have a chance to make the 25 man roster.
The odds are against Miles, but you may find, like me, that you can't help but rooting for him to make it.
Now that I think of it, perhaps he should shag some flies in left