Whether you love the Milledge trade or absolutely hate it, there’s no going back. In 2008 the New York Mets will feature new faces at starting catcher and right field. I wanted to take a closer look at Ryan Church.
Ryan Church has always been ones of those guys that Omar Minaya has always loved going back to his days with the Expos. There is so much to like about Ryan Church both offensively and defensively. Lets get something straight right now, he is without question a better and more complete player than Lastings Milledge for 2008 and possibly 2009 as well.
Church is a professional hitter who knows how to make the adjustments to improve his game. While with the Nationals, he wisely adjusted his approach at the plate to fit the wide dimensions of the park and because of that, he was able to stroke 43 doubles in only 470 at-bats. And while the league leader in doubles Matt Holliday only had seven more than Church with 50, he hit his in 636 at-bats and playing in a hitters paradise, Coors Field.
His slugging percentage of .464 was higher than other young well known sluggers like his teammate Ryan Zimmerman, and fellow young outfielders Jeff Francouer, Bill Hall, Andre Ethier and Jason Bay. Each of those guys are highly regarded and yet Church has flown under the radar.
Church continued to show improvement after being named the everyday left fielder, and hit .310 while blasting seven of his fifteen home runs over the final two months. He struggled somewhat against left handers, but saw much improvement as the season wore on.
Ironically, it was the emergence of Ryan Church that spelled the end of Endy Chavez’ days as a starting outfielder for the Nationals.
When Church first came up as a rookie in 2005, he busted out of the gate as one of the top contenders for Rookie of the Year honors. He was named rookie of the month of May, but soon suffered through some injuries and saw his season cut short. He still finished with a .287 average nine homeruns and 42 RBI in only 268 at-bats. Some compared him to a young Jim Edmonds.
As a left handed hitter, he helps the Mets more than the right handed Lastings Milledge would have. He plays the corner outfield position with great range and gets a good jump on the ball. There’s no questioning the fact he is an upgrade over Milledge and even more so against Shawn Green.
Supposedly, he even comes with his own chant. Whenever Church came up to the plate at home games, the crowd would all stand and begin chanting "hallelujah."
I think Mets fans are going to take well to Ryan Church. Like they always say, "A little church will never hurt anybody."
UPDATE: CASEY STERN INTERVIEWS RYAN CHURCH ON MLB.COM
"It hasn’t really sank in. Just the thought of that, being in a lineup with those guys on a daily basis, the sky’s the limit. I’ve never been in that situation and I really can’t wait to finally be a part of that and I’m just looking forward to stepping on that field with Reyes, Wright, Delgado, Beltran and all those guys. I’ve never had that experience before. I’m looking forward to it."
"Just having the opportunity to play for a contender, that’s our biggest dream as ballplayers, winning the whole thing and I think that now, I’m in a situation to have the opportunity to day in, day out have our team be able to win and I think that it’s on a consistent basis and that they strive for excellence. If they don’t get a ring, they are disappointed, so I want to be part of that. I’ve never been in that situation and I can’t be any happier to say that I’m a Met and have the opportunity to play with them."
For the full recorded interview go to mlb.com.
For more quotes and commentary go to Hot Foot and MetsBlog.