I have to admit that when the New York Mets traded top prospect Lastings Milledge to the Washington Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider I was unhappy. I thought this was another one of Omar Minaya’s misguided trades like Heath Bell to the Padres for nothing, or Brian Bannister to the Royals for Ambiorix Burgos. Wow… Have I been wrong!
Ryan Church, and to a lesser degree Brian Schneider, has been much more than the nondescript outfielder that I was expecting. Schneider has been hitting pretty well but without any semblance of power, and he does seem to provide some sense of comfort to the pitching staff. However, the catcher’s influence on a pitching staff is vastly overrated in my opinion.
Church has been a revelation, both in the field and at the plate, for the Mets. He’s currently hitting 34 points above his highest season average in 2005. His OBP is 18 points higher than his career high in 2006. His OPS is 13 points higher than his career high in 2006 as well. Without a doubt, he’s been the most consistent offensive performer for the Mets this season. He’s hit well in every spot in the order that Willie Randolph has put him in. He’s seemingly unaffected by changes that Randolph makes to the lineup.
His defense in right field is outstanding both with his glove and his arm. He’s made no errors and has 4 outfield assists (which ties his season high from 2007). After watching Shawn Green play right field for a year and a half, Church looks like the immortal Roberto Clemente out there.
Although the All-Star game is a popularity contest, Ryan Church deserves to be there this season more than any other Met this side of Billy Wagner. I like that the All-Star game is a popularity contest for fans to see the biggest stars in the game despite their current seasonal performance. But I hope that Church can sneak his way in there.
The Mets have been scuffling this season. They haven’t been able to rely on the usual suspects for offense like Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado. They’ve had their moments but none has been very consistent, notably Delgado. Enter Ryan Church, the 29 year old outfielder making $2 million and outplaying the high priced talent for the Mets. It’s frightening to think where the Mets would be without him this season.