Nats Double Steal

So the Nats have acquired one of the most coveted prospects of the last three years, Lastings Milledge, from the Mets, in exchange for catcher Brian Schneider and Ryan Church.  What a steal!  I had the opportunity to see Milledge perform on a number of occasions in Norfolk.  He has superstar written all over him, which is why the Mets just a couple of years ago bypassed prime starting pitching to keep Milledge.  His stock has fallen in New York, in no small part due to his immaturity.  But I suspect he can thrive in the lesser lights of D.C., with mentoring from Manny Acta and especially Dmitri Young.

The Mets desperately needed a catcher, and Schneider is a good one, particularly at handling pitching staffs.  While he was one of my favorites and I hate to see him go, Schneider’s offensive production is tailing off and by the end of last year he was platooning with Jesus Flores, who ironically was considered by many to be the top catching prospect in the Mets organization before being swiped by the Nats in the 2006 Rule 5 draft, making this something of a double steal.  Church never could quite live up to his promise, and the consensus now seems to be he will never be more than a fourth outfielder.

Milledge is exactly what the Nats need, an exciting young player with the potential to become a superstar and cornerstone for the franchise in years to come.  The Nats really don’t have the young arms in the majors to really benefit from a Brian Schneider, although they should pick up an experienced catcher to provide some guidance, both to the pitchers and Flores.  The Nats front office is showing a considerable amount of savvy building towards the future.  They know they’ve got a couple of years while the new ballpark keeps the fans coming.  The patience and discipline they’ve displayed, and the occasional deal like this one, promise great things on the horizon.

— Michael Norton

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