This is getting old, but get a load of Wallace Matthews latest comments in this morning’s Newsday.
He tries to make a case for the Mets trading Jose Reyes, and he makes that case by using Lastings Milledge as his example.
With regards to Milledge he writes this…
There’s a lesson to be learned in the fate of Milledge and it has nothing to do with hip-hop lyrics, high-fiving fans or wearing a cross the size of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the plate in your first major-league at-bat. It has everything to do with misjudging assets, overplaying hands and waiting a little too long to pull triggers.
According to published reports, at various times since 2005, the Mets could have had Manny Ramirez, Barry Zito, Dan Haren and Dontrelle Willis if only they would have agreed to part with Milledge. In each case, the Mets said no. Unlike Scott Kazmir, Milledge was Untouchable.
He also wrote the following regarding Jose Reyes…
When they needed his speed, he loafed. When they needed his enthusiasm, he pouted. All of the attributes that had made him an Untouchable were canceled out by his immaturity.
He had been the symbol of the 2006 Mets, and it turned out he was a symbol of the 2007 Mets, too, the team that played only as hard as it thought it had to, the team that bitched when things didn’t go its way, the bully that ran and hid at the first sign of an opponent that punched back.
Watching Reyes dog it down the line last year, or refuse to take infield after being called out on strikes, or mope around the clubhouse without his trademark smile after bad games, made me wonder whether we all had him figured wrong.
Clearly, there still are those who believe Reyes can be a franchise player. Happily, one of them is the front office of the Twins, who reportedly would consider a deal with the Mets for Johan Santana if it included Reyes. Unhappily, Minaya agrees with them. He continues to classify Reyes as Untouchable.
Unfortunately, he may be right about waiting to pull the trigger on Milledge, but what in the world does that have to do with Reyes? The reason we should have pulled the trigger on Milledge was because we were overloaded in centerfielders. We had Carlos Beltran firmly in place until 2008 and beyond, Carlos Gomez a year away from being ready, and Fernando Martinez two years away from being ready. We should have sold high on Lastings Milledge.
I was just as saddened as anybody else not only by the departure of Lastings Milledge, but more so by all we were able to get in return for him. I’ve never seen a more egregious case of selling low.
With regard to Reyes, Matthews seems to forget the most important questions of all…
Who replaces Jose Reyes at shortstop if we did trade him?
Who becomes the leadoff hitter if we did not have Jose Reyes?
It was easy to trade Lastings Milledge because he did not really fill a vital need. The Mets were loaded at center field and had to play Milledge in right field where he was clearly miscast and out of place. To trade Reyes for Johan Santana, however, would fill one hole and create two new ones; finding a new shortstop, and finding a new leadoff hitter.