The first thing we know now is that the white flag has been raised on the 2009 season. Because for an offense that has just been shut out for the third time this week, the remedy for that most certainly is not to trade a .280/.332/.375/.707 hitter for a .250/.282/.352/.634 hitter. Screw sabermetrics, this one is basic math.
And we also now know that at some point during this 2009 season, the Mets will be no-hit.
Yes, I believe this is an awful trade. But I really want to try to take more of a pragmatic, even handed view with this. For example, at first sight I went and blasted the Carlos Delgado trade, and blasted the original Ryan Church trade. I've since bought merchandise featuring both players. So I have to be just a little careful.
We all knew a Church trade was inevitable. Honestly, I thought that Church might have weathered the trade winds since he got this far, but the trade doesn't surprise me apart from the destination. But I can't get over the fact that Church has just been so mismanaged in his entire time here that it's a shame how the Mets completely wasted him. From the concussion misdiagnosis to being benched after starting the season on a hot streak to get Gary Sheffield at-bats, to putting him in center field for no real good reason except maybe to showcase his invented versatility for the Braves. And you know with a manager that doesn't hate him and will play him, there's no reason to think that Church isn't going to finally find a groove ... just in time for when the Mets are in Turner Field to face the Braves after the break.
"Shocker. Came out of nowhere. The good thing is I get to play these guys next week. They're going to have to change up a lot of signs. I know everything," Church said. "I'll definitely fill them in." -Ryan Church, after sending a text to Larry Jones and officially joining forces with the enemySigns? You need baserunners for signs to matter, and the Mets can't spell "baserunner". Get ready for Church to go 19-for-21 next week with five HR's.
As for Frenchy, he was in a very similar situation as Church was ... at odds with the manager and GM before getting his wish and being traded. And the rift between Francoeur and Braves management must have been wider than the gulf between Church and Snoop. To get the Braves to not only trade a former big-time prospect within the division, but an Atlanta native to the Mets is really something. Finally, a river wide enough.
Francoeur, just like Church, will come to a team that appreciates him (for now), and will play him constantly. That might not be a good thing. The Mets hope that the change of scenery will help Frenchy (and we saw how well that worked for Wade Redden), but it might be a case where the mind is willing but the batting eye is just too anxious. I think he will be just as motivated as Church will be to stick it to his former team, but for Francoeur to be successful his whole approach has to be revamped. And it's a little too late in the season to expect that 80 pitches in 80 seconds drill to do any good this year. So guess what: Francoeur is going to be a horror show this season.
The hope is for next season and beyond. And that's a hope against hope. The one thing I can say is that at least ... at least this could be a sign that the Mets are thinking about fielding a younger, more athletic team in the foreseeable future instead of rummaging through the bargain bin at Target looking for used tubes of toothpaste and impressing people by actually getting toothpaste out of them. But think about it this way: If they managed to mismanage a veteran like Church, how do you think they're going to turn a young Jeff Francoeur into the feared middle of the order hitter he was destined to be not long ago? Do you really have confidence that this is going to happen?
Bottom line: It didn't have to come to this. Even if 2009 is a wash, Church could have been a piece of the puzzle in 2010 and 2011 when everyone was healthy again. But because of Snoop's puzzling disinterest in him and because of all of the other stuff that Church had to go through with the concussions and what not, he was bound to be traded. Frenchy, who Buster Olney thought was a candidate to be non-tendered at the end of the season (seriously ... even Olney was flustered when the news broke of the trade ... that's how bizarre it is) had better find himself before 2011 when he becomes a free agent, and the Mets had better find a way to make sure he becomes the ballplayer he has the potential to be. This means not benching him in favor of Fernando Tatis after Francoeur gets three hits the night before. Or else there will be plenty of blame to be thrown around for 18 months of Ryan Church's baseball life (and our collective baseball watching lives) wasted by people with a hidden agenda.
And apropos of nothing, but fitting nonetheless, don't you find it ironic that Church's last official act as a Met is to join his new team by flying to Denver?