Neyer disagrees with the me on the Milledge trade. I think he has a fair point insofar as the immediate value of Ryan Church to the Mets is concerned. He and Milledge are pretty close to one another now, and Neyer makes a decent argument that Church may be worth more than a lot of people think. But:
1. Some trades -- Doyle Alexander to the 1987 Tigers for John Smoltz, for example-- may be better to judge on the very short term than others. The 1987 Tigers were an old team making what even 14 year-old Tiger fans like me knew could be their last run. While the Mets were a win away from the playoffs last year, I don't believe they should think of themselves as win-it-now-at-all-costs mode. The core of their team -- Reyes, Wright, and Beltran -- are signed through 2011, 2013, and 2011, respectively. That's certainly not forever, but it doesn't demand the sacrifice of the future either. Milledge will turn 23 shortly after next season begins. Though he was not given the chance to shine many felt he deserved last year, he still acquitted himself respectfully for a 22 year old. Church is 29. Even if Church does play like a poor man's Matt Holliday in 2007, I have little doubt that Milledge will outperform him over the next 4-5 years if given the chance;
2. The Mets aren't just getting Church. They're getting Brian Schneider and the obligation to pay him $10M over the next two years that comes with him. The Mets may be rich, but I don't think they're Yankees/Red Sox rich, and I question whether they, like those two teams, can simply throw $10M down the rabbit hole with zero consequences. Maybe they can, but they certainly shouldn't; and
3. Costs of goods sold and the relative merits of Church and Milledge aside, does anyone think that Omar maximized Milledge's value here? Unlike many Mets fans I, and I'm guessing Neyer, don't think Milledge is the second coming, but then again I don't think Ian Kennedy or Philip Hughes are either, yet the Yankees have managed to convince the rest of the GMs in baseball otherwise. If Omar was intent on getting rid of Milledge, why wouldn't he showcase him a bit more? Talk him up a bit more? Do everything to maximize his value? Beyond the opening salvos in the Santana derby, I've seen nothing to suggest that Omar shopped Milledge to anyone besides Jim Bowden, and that' just inexcusable.
I used the Kazmir trade as an analogy on Friday, but that was mostly to get to a punch line I was fond of at the moment. Obviously this is not as bad as the Kazmir trade. But I stand by my belief that it's not a good one either, and unless Church does perform a Matt Holliday impression in 2008 -- or, at the very least, unless he substantially outperforms Milledge -- Minaya will regret it.
UPDATE: Maybe he'll regret it more than we realized on Friday. According to Rosenthal "Minaya, signed through 2009, has been thwarted in his attempts to land a contract extension, according to major league sources." That indicates to me that Omar feels the need to WIN NOW even if it's not in the Mets' long-term best interests. If I'm a Mets fan, I'm officially worried.