Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 1, 2007
BASEBALL: Lastings Out The Door

The Mets' deal of Lastings Milledge for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church is a pretty classic example of a deal I didn't love but didn't hate at first glance, but quickly started hating the more I thought about it. Let's go through the lessons of this deal:

1. There's no such thing as a mistake you only pay for once. This deal is the wages of Omar letting Jesus Flores go in the Rule V draft; Flores now becomes the Nats' starting catcher, and had the Mets still had Flores, they would not have felt that the catching position was a need to be filled.

2. Short term, this deal may not hurt the Mets that much, as it brings in two everyday players of some use. Schneider is a great defensive catcher, probably the best in the game; he's probably good enough to be worth carrying his weak bat, which at 31 isn't going to get better. And Church is a solid player, a career .271/.462/.348 hitter (.279/.484/.355 on the road), albeit one who doesn't hit lefties real well; he's 29 and could have a bust-out year getting out of RFK. My guess is that Chuch will still be a better hitter thah Milledge in 2008. Then again, I'm not sure I want the inevitable Alou injury being the only thing standing between us and Church/Chavez/Gomez holding down the corners.

3. However, dealing Milledge, one of the system's crown jewels, for this pair almost certainly means no deal for a top starting pitcher, as Milledge was constantly mentioned in potential packages for the likes of Danny Haren or Johan Santana.

4. More to the point, long term, we could easily regret this big-time. At 23 next season with great athletecism and no real weakness other than immaturity and sporadic glovework, Milledge still has definite star potential. Add him to the list of young hitters abandoned by the Mets - sometimes for something of value, sometimes not - and while he is less accomplished than some, he's moreso than others and among the youngest:

Amos Otis22152.178.224.238
Lastings Milledge22350.257.414.326
Kevin Mitchell24342.275.456.340
Ken Singleton24496.252.387.369
Carl Everett26924.250.402.326
Lenny Dykstra261686.278.413.350
Jeff Kent281831.279.453.327

I don't think you could really say Milledge has less upside at this stage than any of those guys at the time they left the Mets.

5. I assume this also means the Mets will non-tender Johnny Estrada. Estrada's not as much better as Schneider with the bat as he seems, given that Scneider gets on base more and has also suffered from RFK, but he's a pretty useful guy to just give away for nothing.

6. Along with the departure of Lo Duca, Glavine and Mota, this smacks of housecleaning, although actually we have not seen as many guys cleaned out as you might expect.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:33 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

I don't know if he will develop into much more than a 4th OF, but Church is a player you should learn to like. When he was an Indians farmhand, he would frequent the fan forums and interact with folks. Seemed like a very personable kid. Sort of a younger Sean Casey except without the "piano on the back" running style.

Posted by: largebill at December 1, 2007 6:28 PM

I like everything I know about Church. I think this deal could be a win for the Mets over the next two years, although Milledge is likely to make them regret it in a big way long-term.

Posted by: Jerry at December 1, 2007 8:11 PM

The thing is, Willie was never going to play Milledge. He'd find some other broken down reclamation project to stick in front of him for 2008. Then, when said project gets hurt or has a 2-47 slump, play Milledge until his first 0-fer then bury him again.

I liked Lastings, but he had no future on Willie Randolph's Mets.

Posted by: Zufall at December 2, 2007 1:40 PM

down here outside of DC a review of the trade with Nats fans found little enthusiasm for it either

Posted by: Maryland Conservatarian at December 3, 2007 9:02 AM

As a nats fan, I'm pretty giddy about it. Nats won't be contenders next year anyway and the move frees cash and opens the door for younger players. Also nails down the outfield for the Nats with Pena and Milledge giving a long look to see what they can do.

Schneider would have platooned with Flores so the Nats lose 2 platoon players for one full time starter. Church was pretty effective in CF but wasn't in the plans for a full time starter (Church was a bit disappointing in his extended FT playing streak).

Long term its better for Nats. Short term is large improvement at C and Church is a good guy, and can be solid at CF.

Posted by: hoo at December 3, 2007 9:56 AM

I'm surprised you left out Jason Bay, who was traded by the Mets to San Diego, who traded him to the Pirates. The classic gambit of trading potential for proven talent should have died with moneyball, but the Mets are showing they still haven't gotten the memo. It looks like the Mets are employing the Yankees' 1990's business model.

Posted by: Lorenzo at December 3, 2007 3:26 PM

With CE on the list it begs the question as to whether or not LM believes in dinosaurs or not.

Posted by: jim at December 3, 2007 7:57 PM

I see the Nats have acquired Elijah Dukes to serve as a stabilizing influence on Milledge :)

Posted by: Jerry at December 3, 2007 8:01 PM

I deliberately didn't include Bay because he didn't play in the majors for the Mets.

Posted by: The Crank at December 3, 2007 9:11 PM

Milledge does have weaknesses, so I think to say that he has no obvious weaknesses is a stretch...His swing is long and he doesn't have any semblance of patience at the plate for starters. That said, I don't think the Mets got fair value for him.

Posted by: MP at December 9, 2007 9:09 PM
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