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Note: Somehow, a picture of Lastings Milledge that I placed in this story turned into an image of George Bush flipping the reader off. I can only assume that the picture I used was taken from a site that doesn't like you to use their images and was able to change the image somehow. I apoligize to those who saw it.

[November 30th] -- Wow. I didn't see this one coming.

The Nationals on Friday traded Brian Schneider and Ryan Church to the Mets for Lastings Milledge.

Now, you didn't notice it, but 15 minutes passed between these two paragraphs because I just don't know what to think about this deal. At first I didn't like it, but since virtually every Mets message board and blogsite are being scorched by angry Met fans venting about this deal, perhaps it's promising after all.

Okay, deep breath.

We all know that Brian Schneider's "up and coming" offense never came. After signing his multi-year deal in 2005, he's been a liability at the plate. His defense is good, very good, but not as good as most believe it is. If Jesus Flores can play as well in 450 at-bats in 2008 as he did in 180 at-bats last year, then the Nationals won't miss Brian one bit, though I'd think the bench will call the games, at least for the foreseeable future. Regardless, the team now desperately needs a quality veteran backup catcher.

I will miss Ryan Church. He's never played up to his potential and could easily hit .275-23-88 in New York if given a chance. Perhaps he'll play better on a bigger stage. I just wish that if he had to go, he'd have gone to another league, or division. I don't want Ryan to beat the Nationals in their new park in 2008.

Now, on to Milledge. Here's how the kid's numbers would have looked based on a full 550 at-bat season (he had 187 at-bats last year): Runs: 81 -- Hits: 150 -- 2B: 27 -- 3B: 3 -- HR: 21 -- RBI: 87 -- Ave: .272 -- OBP: 341 -- SLG: .446.

Basically, if Milledge never gets better, he's going to produce like Church did last season. Of course, he's a kid and until last year, he was untouchable.

But he's going to get better, or at least that's what Jim Bowden believes.

Here is what TSN.ca says about Milledge:

Assets: Uses an incredibly quick bat to line the ball to all fields with occasional power. He's a fast runner who can steal some bases and is a strong all-around outfielder.
Flaws: Swings a little too freely, especially susceptible to breaking stuff. Has been impatient in the past, but is learning to take some walks. His attitude has come into question.
Career potential: Can be an all-star if he keeps a level head.

Some thoughts about the trade *at first blush*

The press conference is coming up soon, so I'll write again after I get a feel for what Jimbo is thinking. Until then, If Milledge blossoms into a superstar, then it's a great deal. If he's another "toolsy player" that goes the way of Tony Blanco ......

UPDATE: Here is what a Mets blog reported about Omar Minaya's press conference:During the call, Minaya said…

He and Nats GM Jim Bowden had been discussing this deal for a while.

Schneider will be his every-day catcher.

He checked around with other clubs, and, from what he can tell, trading Milledge will not impact whether or not he can acquire a starting pitcher from another club. Milledge did not fall out of demand, it’s just that the Mets have many other desired players to complete a deal. He had a very close, personal relationship with Milledge, and it was very difficult, emotionally, to trade him.

He does not feel Milledge’s value has changed much in the last 12 months, though he is sure he’d have been worth more had he come up last year and hit more. Either way, he is very happy to get two good players.

He has always felt he needed to acquire a catcher like Schneider, who is ‘big on defensive.’ These two players give the team balance, on both sides of the ball.

Church allows them to essentially go ‘with two center fielders.’ As of now, he views Church as an every-day, starting right fielder at the start of next year, who is under control for four years, whereas Milledge is still developing, and under control for five years.

Milledge would not have been guaranteed a starting job this coming spring training, though he is very confident he will eventually develop in to a very good player.

His goal is to win a championship, and this trade helps make them better offensively and defensively.

During the call, Schneider said he is looking forward to the opportunity, and to be on a winning team and playing in New York. He looks forward to working with the pitching staff. His favorite thing is to throw out runners at second and helping the staff as best as he can.

Asked to comment on John Maine and Oliver Perez, who he has hit against, he noted that he caught Maine while in Japan, and he’s already plotting how best to work with them. He’s excited.

Schneider has text messaged with David Wright, who is excited to have him, noting that Wright is very excited to get back to work and win. He hesitated to describe himself as a firey guy, but he knows he is capable of motivating a pitching staff, and he does not intend to come in and step on people’s toes right away.

Lastly, during the call, Church said he is thankful to the team for bringing him over, and to be on a team with a year-in and year-out chance to be in the playoffs. Church is able to play all three outfield positions, and is very comfortable in right, since it is where he played during most of his minor-league career. He is very excited to be a part of New York, and be part of a team with so much talent.

More coming .....

I think that this deal makes sense from the perspective of both teams and where they are right now in their development. The Mets are a playoff contender, and in the position of being able to fill specific needs with players who are not necessarily young prospects any longer. The Nats are in rebuilding phase, and looking to acquire young talent for the long haul. Milledge fits that bill for them.
The more I think about the trade Mike, the more I think it's a great deal for the Nationals if -IF- Milledge becomes that 30 homer, 100 RBI kind of player (but he's really not a base stealer though), and if Jesus Flores is read to take over the every-day catching duties.

Schneider can help a great team win, and Church can be a .275-23-80 right fielder for the Mets.
I'm neither a Church booster nor hater; I've been lukewarm on the guy and can easily wish him well somewhere else. Particularly since the Nats didn't seem like they were ever going to give him the chance he really needed to show what he could do.

I'm sorry to lose Schneider, though. I think that he added a lot of clubhouse value, team leadership, and was a great influence on the pitching staff. Plus he just seemed like an all-around nice guy and good human being. Good face for the franchise.

All that said, I'm thinking this was a great trade for the Nats. Not a bad trade for the Mets either. This gives both sides things we needed. I think getting Milledge for CF makes a whole lot more sense and is a much better investment than throwing money at A. Jones or Rowand.
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