On the surface, this trade makes no sense. Brian Schnieder is a mediocre starting catcher who plays decent defense but is not much with the bat. Granted, this is the type of catcher this organization has seemed enamored with this offseason, but he’s still nothing special, and not much of an upgrade over Johnny Estrada, who figures to be non-tendered. Ryan Church is a fourth outfielder with pop, but he’s 29 years old and figures to not get much better, and plus, the Mets have a better defensive fourth outfielder already in Endy Chavez. On the other hand, Lastings Milledge was one of their true trading chips for acquiring a starting pitcher this winter, and worst-case scenario, could have started in right field for the Mets next year.
Even in a “first trade in a series of trades” fashion, this doesn’t make sense. Teams looking to move pitching want young players in return. Church is seven years older than Milledge, and figures to have reached whatever his full potential is going to be. Milledge still has room to grow, and in September he had some nice hits for the Mets, showing good slugging potential. For teams looking to rebuild around a star prospect, who would they rather acquire?
That’s why I don’t think this is the first trade of a series of trades, and is exactly what it appears to be on the surface, a bad trade. The “upgrade” of going from Johnny Estrada to Brian Schneider (and I use that term loosely) is not enough to cover the downgrade of going from Lastings Milledge to Ryan Church. Short-term, this looks to have been a mistake, as Milledge may actually be a better hitter than Church right now, and Estrada and Schneider are essentially a wash. Long-term, this could be a disaster, as Lastings figures to only improve over time to where he should eventually be at least an above-average hitting outfielder. It’s trades like this that make me really wonder how long-term this team is thinking, but also what the real decision-making process is behind making these moves, because this really just doesn’t appear to make sense on any level. I mean, can’t the Mets trade one of their top prospects and get SOMETHING decent back in return just once? Is this too much to ask?