Friday, November 30, 2007

Transaction Recap: Mets, Nationals

Mets receive: OF Ryan Church, C Brian Schneider (Rating: 2/10)

Nationals receive: OF Lastings Milledge (8)

What was Omar Minaya thinking? I give Omar a hard time on R-D because I don't like how he gets credit for turning around the Mets franchise when he was simply authorized to spend more money on Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez than other teams. In my book, inheriting Jose Reyes and David Wright from the previous regime is not a feather in your cap.

Minaya's acquisitions haven't even done that well. Beltran has been fine, but Pedro's deal has been a disaster, Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Delgado have turned into pumpkins, and Shawn Green was a terrible idea right from the start. Scott Schoeneweis might get cut before 2008 despite being owed another $8 million. Minaya does get credit for Oliver Perez and John Maine, but neither is as good as his 2007 ERA.

Back to this deal. Milledge and Church have similar projections for 2008, so why is the deal so bad? Because Milledge is a young 23 next year and should get much better in the next five years for the Nats, while Church is already 29 and past his peak, with less service time remaining. Schneider is a backup catcher stretched in an everyday role, and the Mets just "won" the right to pay him $10.3 million over the next two years, including the insult of a $500,000 "assignment bonus" for being traded.

In a sane trade, Schneider would have played the role of Mike Lowell in the Josh Beckett-Hanley Ramirez trade: the unattractive girl you pretend to like in order to get at her hot friend. Looking at this deal, it certainly seems as though Minaya viewed Schneider as the equalizer.

But there is a bright side for the Mets: As a player traded in the middle of a multi-year contract, Schneider has the right to demand a trade after the 2008 season or become a free agent. So there is some chance he spares the team of the need to pay him $4.9 million for 2009.

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