So, let’s review, Mets fans. First, there’s the obvious - Lastings Milledge is now a Washington National. This we know. But while Omar was making this deal with a division rival, a few other things became clear:
1) The Mets were indeed tired of L-Millz
I don’t mean L-Millz the gangsta, producer, rap star or sharp dresser. I mean L-Millz, the facade.
Lastings caught a lot of crap from a lot of people - myself included - about his arrogance and demeanor. When it became clear that he needed to check himself, he did an overnight turnaround. Suddenly, he was a model bench boy scout, at least until he got into a game. Milledge’s overly aggressive swing, mediocre-at-best fielding, and overall complacency didn’t change nearly as much as his haircut.
I still firmly believe that Lastings Milledge will become a solid, if not spectacular, major league ballplayer, but not until he discovers who he really is, as a player, and as a person.
2. Other teams soured on Milledge as much as the Mets did
I’m eating my own Nikes here, because about 48 hours ago, I was raving about how Billy Beane couldn’t live without Lastings. And when time came to bid Milledge adieu, I fully expected him to be wearing green and gold next season, while the Mets enjoyed a new #1 or #2 starter. Fans did not expect a potential superstar to be traded within the division. By making this move with the Nats, Omar Minaya may have filled a few gaps with better than average players, but he also revealed that Milledge’s value had plummeted considerably.
How can we be sure? Simple - the Mets don’t have a new starting pitcher to show for the deal. This move just screams “last resort” for Minaya and the Mets, who recently claimed that obtaining pitching was the #1, 2, and 3 priority.
3. Johnny Estrada will wear more uniforms than Kenny Lofton and Vinny Testaverde combined
I think we all knew this was coming, but Estrada has to be spinning a bit, wondering exactly where he will safely be able to get a long term mortgage. Brian Schneider has less pop than Estrada, but more than makes up for it with his arm and backstop skills. With Schneider playing four days a week, and Castro two, the Mets are vastly improved at the position over 2007. LoDuca must be incensed right now.
4. The Mets have a potential deal in place for a starter
Okay, I’m speculating here. But it’s starting to look like the Milledge-Church/Schneider trade is more or less a precursor to something bigger. By obtaining Schneider, the Mets now have a spare catcher with some pop to include with the “usual suspects trade bait package” of Carlos Gomez, Aaron Heilman, Mike Pelfrey or any player under the age of 30. I won’t throw team or player names around, but I highly doubt Minaya — as impulsive as he can be — would consider this move a final move, before resorting to free agent pitcher shopping. It’s a hunch, but an educated one.
One curiosity is that neither Oakland or Minnesota need a catcher, which makes dealing for the big fish out of the question. But Baltimore might need a backstop soon…Hmmm…Something to chew on, true believers.
More to come.