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12/1/07 Schneider and Church Traded For Milledge...What Are "They" Saying??

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          "We're not done."- Washington GM Jim Bowden.

     The quote above is from Barry Svrluga's washingtonpost.com article entitled, "Schneider, Church Dealt for Milledge," in which Mr. Svrluga writes about yesterday's deal sending New York Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge to the Washington Nationals in exchange for catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church.

     In my local Newark Star-Ledger, Staff Writer Jeremy Cothran checked in with, "Mets give up on Milledge, deal him to Nats." New York Times writer Ben Shpigel's article was titled, "Mets Trade Milledge And Fill Two Holes," while in New York Post(newyorkpost.com) writer Dan Sherman's opinion, the, "DEAL 'EDGES ON INSANITY." In the articles, each writer manages to paint a slightly different picture of the players involved, and each arrives at differing conclusions as to who has gotten the best of whom in the trade.

     Barry Svrluga's article, ""Schneider, Church Dealt for Milledge," quotes Nationals GM Jim Bowden describing Lastings Milldge as, "...an explosive player for next year and beyond...(and) a middle-of-the-lineup, impact player." Mr. Svrluga notes that Milledge comes with a "slightly troubled reputation," and recounts the anecdotes about rap lyrics and high-fiving fans, but quotes Nationals Manager Manny Acta, formerly Milledge's third base coach with the Mets, who states:

          "'I can assure you that Lastings is a good kid," Acta said.
          'He came up to the big leagues very young in a very tough
          spot...He just wasn't prepared to handle that.'"

     While Acta assures Washington fans about Milledge's reputation in Mr. Svrluga's article, Nationals GM Jim Bowden calls the duo of Schneider and Church that he parted with a, "very, very steep price," that was sent to NY in return for the twenty-two year old Milledge.

     While Mr. Bowden considers the players the Nationals dealt a "steep price", in Newark Star-Ledger Staff Writer Jeremy Cothran's article, "Mets give up on Milledge, deal him to Nats", New York Mets GM Omar Minaya is sure to assure fans that, "Names like Schneider and Church are not known names, but they gives us balance."

     Mr. Cothran describes Lastings Milledge as, "...a one-time super prospect," and quotes Nationals Manager Manny Acta, who says, "We're getting a guy who has a chance to be an impact player for years to come."

     Just two years ago, Mets fans were awaiting the arrival of Milledge, then considered their top prospect, and New York Times writer Ben Shpigel cruelly reminds them, in his article, "Mets Trade Milledge And Fill Two Holes," that:

          "...Lastings Milledge was mentioned prominently as part    
          of trade discussions for the Boston slugger Manny
          Ramirez. Last year, the Mets dangled him
          in a package for a front-line pitcher."

       The "front-line" pitcher Mr. Shpigel mentions is most likely Barry Zito. The Mets could have "rented" Zito, with a trade, for the '06 Playoffs, but the organization refused to include Milledge in either the offer for Zito or Manny Ramirez, building expectations for Milledge that the return from DC in this trade doesn't seem to match.

     Mr. Shpigel concludes that solving the Mets issues behind the plate and in the outfield with Schneider and Church allows Mets GM Omar Minaya to concentrate on the starting pitching the Mets are generally agreed to desperately need...

     ...BUT...New York Post writer Joel Sherman, who is obviously thrilled with the trade, reminds Mets fans in his punny newyorkpost.com article, "DEAL 'EDGES ON INSANITY," of another deal involving a prospect with "personal issues" (like Lastings Milledge):

          "The last time the Mets projected such worries about a
          first-round draft choice they traded Scott Kazmir to
          Tampa Bay, an ill-fated deal that has them pursuing a
          prime-age ace even now. That deal pretty much doomed
          Jim Duquette as GM and ushered in Omar Minaya."

      Kazmir was traded for another pitcher, Victor Zambrano, that most Mets fans would like to forget, and I personally know more than a few Mets fans who still angrily follow Kazmir in the box scores and complain that if, "Kazmir can win 15 games with Tampa imagine what he could do in NY."

     ...So trading Milledge for players, Schneider and Church, that Mr. Sherman describes in his article as "supplementary players," especially when the Nationals could afford to trade Schneider because they have another former Mets' prospect, Jesus Flores, behind the plate, is truly verging on insanity...

     ...Not to mention the fact that the Mets will now have to potentially face Milledge eighteen times a year for years to come on a team in their own division...

...Finally, I emailed Eric Simon, who writes the SB Nation's New York Mets blog over at www.amazinavenue.com:

          "...Wondering what you thought of the trade? How
          did Milledge fall out of favor so quickly? I knew Church
          was going somewhere but Schneider's name only surfaced
          recently. Milledge will probably start in center for the
          Nationals...No one in NY likes it from what I've heard..."

To which Mr. Simon was nice enough to respond:

          "Milledge has been dogged by off-the-field issues since
          even before he was drafted. The Mets have long been one
          of the more PR-conscious organizations, and in this case
          I believe that has worked against them (interestingly,
          Church has gotten himself into trouble for non-baseball
          reasons, too). The Mets have probably improved
          themselves marginally for 2008, but they traded away the
          six-year gap in age between Milledge and Church in
          exchange for Schneider, which seems pretty silly to most
          people around here. Milledge and Church are similar
          hitters right now and Milledge has six years to improve
          upon that.

          "Trades ultimately get judged two times: Once when
          the trade is executed and again in retrospect after the
          dust has settled, the latter of which can often take years
          to develop. Right now it looks like Jim Bowden bested
          Omar Minaya, at least in terms of long-term value. Time
          will tell whether that's truly the case.

          "Feel free to post these comments at Federal Baseball
          if you think your readers would be interested. Thanks!"

(ed -"thanks a lot Eric.")

 For a good idea what Mets fans are thinking check out Eric Simon's post at www.amazinavenue.com that currently has 75 Mets fans weighing in with their take on the trade...

http://www.amazinavenue.com/story/2007/11/30/131310/63#commenttop

Also...Amazin Avenue's Eric Simon and New York Times writer Ben Shpigel both mention Ryan Church's "non-baseball" baggage, and their is an article on washingtonpost.com by Alan Cooperman which describes the situation clearly for anyone interested...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/20/AR2005092002093.html

*Schneider/Church-Milledge Online Links*

Barry Svrluga's washingtonpost.com article, "Schneider, Church Dealt for Milledge":

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/30/AR2007113001286.html?sid=ST200711300 2168

Joel Sherman's newyorkpost.com article, "DEAL 'EDGES ON INSANITY":

http://www.nypost.com/seven/12012007/sports/mets/deal_edges_on_insanity_285290.htm?page=2

Go buy the New York Times and Newark Star-Ledger yourself...