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Prelude to a bigger, better deal?

John StrubelSaturday, December 1, 2007
By John Strubel

When the news broke at lunchtime Friday that the New York Mets traded Lastings Milledge, it was no surprise. Expecting to hear Dan Haren, Erik Bedard or Johan Santana next, Mets fans were disappointed and frustrated when it was revealed that Milledge was traded for catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church. And, for obvious reasons.

Two years ago the Mets were rumored to have turning down the Boston Red Sox offer of Manny Ramirez for Milledge, followed by the Barry Zito-for-Milledge rumors.

Now, two years and 115 games later, the 22-year old Milledge (.272 BA, 7 HR, 29 RBI in 59 games in 2007) is traded for a 31-year old catcher with a lifetime .252 batting average and a fourth outfielder in Church.

What gives?

Consider the options:

  1. The Mets won't carry three catchers into Spring 2008. For the sake of argument Johnny Estrada, Brian Schneider or Ramon Castro is headed elsewhere.

  2. Is Ryan Church in the Mets 2008 plans? Maybe ... maybe not. But let's look at the Mets outfield today: Moises Alou, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gomez, Endy Chavez, Ryan Church and Fernando Martinez (maybe). Someone is going. One of latter names could be a piece of a bigger, better move in the near future.

Let' let the ingredients simmer for a few weeks. Watch, wait and see what transpires at next week's Winter Meetings and the immediate days after. If nothing changes by New Year's Day, then let Minaya have it.

About John: John Strubel has been freelance writing and broadcasting for 21 years.

Strubel started his broadcasting career in upstate New York including stints in Glens Falls, Saratoga Springs and Albany. He also worked in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Wilmington, Greenville and Greensboro, North Carolina and now Charleston, South Carolina.   Read More -->

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Comments (7)

Omar, Omar Omar why why why....a 22yr old with less than 500ABs at MLB level.... I am startingt to think that Omar and The Wilpons are taking advice from Mr. Isiah Thomas.....
I am a fan of Church and Schneider... from what I know both of these players are good for the clubhouse and by the looks of this team a clubhouse precense is needed....
However, Ben Johnson, Vargas and A Hernandez could have probably landed these two players.....The Nats wanted to get younger and knew they were not going to contend....The players the Mets received will help the team out but Lastings should have been given at least 1000Bs before he was traded, the worst that would have happened is his value plummets and the Mets trade him for future considerartions.....If Omars next move involves a Livan, a Silva, or a Sosa I am goign to be heated.......
Also, if he wanted a Left Handed OF fielder why not look into G. Jenkins...I know that he is probably a HGH guy but a Brett Farve Look a Like would be great for NYC!!!

Castro can not be traded... we just signed him as a FA

First off, F-Mart won't be on the major league level anytime soon. He's very young, and still has alot to learn, and frankly, I've heard nothing about the Mets bringing him up anytime soon. They'll leave him in the minors for a few more seasons until he's ready.

I'm more than willing to adopt a wait and see attitude. The Milledge trade doesn't hurt the Mets when you stop thinking of Milledge as the second coming of Mickey Mantle. They got themselves- depending on other trades/signings- a starting outfielder and catcher. Not bad, really.

Secondly, Uncle Chi Chi- Why would the Nationals want Vargas, A-Hern, and Ben Johnson? Vargas is a middling starter who's prone to the long ball, A-Hern is a defensive whiz who can't hit- and the Nats don't need him, what with Belliard and Lopez in the middle infield. And Ben Johnson is a 6th Outfielder at best. With an OF of Kearns and Mo Pena, why would they want him? To sit on the bench? And how would the Nats get younger with this deal- Schneider is 31 and Church's 29; they're in their prime (and Church's a late bloomer anyways)? Would you trade a starting OF who was among the league leaders in doubles and one of the best defensive catchers in the game for those three? Hell no. The Nationals would laugh at you and tell Fred Wilpon to fire you for even suggesting such a deal.

Also, why should Milledge get 1000 at bats before he's traded? The Mets need to win now, before Beltran, Pedro, Wagner, Delgado, and Alou get old and/or retire. They can't rely upon Milledge's promise- especially when they've got other guys who they can wait on in the Minors (Gomez, F-Mart, Ambres, Caleb Stewart, Delos Guerrera, etc). And if Omar got Livan/Silva for the #5 slot, you'd be upset? Why? Because they can throw 200+ innings a year, not suck at it, and are playoff winners? Might I remind you that Sosa and El Duque broke down (or were shunted to the bullpen) last year, and we didn't HAVE a #5 starter come September?

Stop thinking like the Yankees "SANTANA OR BUST EVEN THOUGH WE DON'T NEED HIM" garbage. Start thinking about what will make the Mets win on the field. Not the newspapers.

Oh, and last I checked, the Yanks haven't won a damn thing with that mantra. Mets at least made it to the 9th inning of the NLCS in 2006. Omar's earned at least that much faith, folks.

'Something' obvious is going to happen in the next two weeks....let's hang in there and see which "pieces" are used to get what the Mets need.

I agree with you most of the time Mike but in this case I disagree. I don't believe Church is a 4th outfielder based on his numbers, and in fact think that his numbers will improve with a better lineup around him. He drove in 70 plus runs last year and although he only hit 15 homeruns, his extra base hits are excellent. He is not a star type player but feel that he is an excellent player playing for a below average team. I compare him to Paul O'Neil, who was not a star player but was perfect for the Yankees . As for Schneider, I really like him defensively and he is a decent hitter. Regarding Milledge, Yes, he does have star potential but is not a star right now. What worries me about Milledge is the several issues that have occurred surrounding him. He may have been the motivation the Marlins needed to beat the Mets on the last day of the year.

With all of this said, if the Mets do not improve themselves in the bullpen and with 1 more above average starting pitcher, then I will most likely be upset since Milledge could have been the chip for improvement on the pitching side.

Thanks again for your blogs. You are truly a voice of reason and I enjoy reading your stuff.


Ed, good post and good points about Church being in the mold of Paul O'Neil. I like the analogy alot. And I agree that Schneider's a better hitter than he was last year (and obviously a gold glove defender). What's his career average around- .260 BA?

I do think that Omar will bring in a #1/2 level starting pitcher when all's said and done. Bullpen help would be nice- I'd like Chacon but I don't mind Dotel. That being said, the Mets WILL have Padilla and Duaner coming back, and they'll also have El Duque and Sosa in the 'pen for a full year. And no more Mota. That's gotta help, too.

Hey John I agre with u about 2 many catchers may be and they dont need Alou
to old Milledge didnt get a fair shot
also Im from saratoga,NY

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