Everyone knows of the “win-now” mantra in New York. And right now, it’s not just the Yankees.
The Mets just traded Lastings Milledge to the Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. If you look at this trade just in terms of next season, it makes some sense for the Mets. A defensively solid, albeit offensively challenged catcher, and a decent outfielder who is more developed than Milledge.
However Milledge is only 22 years old. He has been considered one of the Mets best prospects for a couple of seasons. His ceiling is considerable. A year and a half ago he would have been the centerpiece of a Barry Zito deal with Oakland. Obviously, Billy Beane has cooled on him a bit, otherwise you think he would be packaged in a deal for a Joe Blanton.
The Mets don’t have many good prospects that are close to major league level. They need pitching badly. It seems hasty to include one of their best trade chips in a deal that nets them no pitching. The Mets needed a catcher. But is Brian Schneider that much of an upgrade over Ramon Castro and Johnny Estrada? He is a good defender but he’s already 31 and can’t hit. Ryan Church is a decent outfielder, but decent outfielders are one of the most readily available commodities. Milledge has an All-Star ceiling.
If this deal was going to be the final piece of the Mets World Series puzzle, then in would make sense to a degree. But with so many holes left unfilled, it seems like they undersold one of their few coveted assets. If the market was really so down on Milledge, they should have just held on to him, and let him prove himself. Maybe he falls even further, but his numbers suggest he will be a good player, at least as good as Ryan Church.