Press Row: Milledge as trade chip?

The Mets' acquisition of outfielder Moises Alou - which is expected to be announced in the coming days - should free them to use Lastings Milledge as a trade chip.

Milledge, 21, had mixed results in his first major league tours of duty with New York. Though he had some promising and exciting moments, some high-ranking people within the Mets organization have soured on the former first-round draft pick.

Milledge batted .241 with four home runs and 22 RBI in 56 games with the Mets and garnered an organizational Sterling Award at Triple-A Norfolk – indicative of his club's most valuable player – after batting .277 with seven home runs and 36 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 84 games there.

The Mets' acquisition of outfielder Ben Johnson, a 25-year-old right-handed hitting talent who had formerly been one of the San Diego Padres' top prospects, could help replace any void in the system left by Milledge.

Outfielders Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez are also very high on the team's depth charts – in fact, Gomez has now replaced Milledge atop Inside Pitch's prospect rankings for 2007. The 21-year-old shared a Sterling Award with Michel Abreu at Double-A Binghamton, batting .281 with seven homers and 48 RBI in 120 games.

All this seems to make Milledge expendable and available. Newsday reported Monday that Mets GM Omar Minaya has already had conversations with the Chicago White Sox regarding pitchers Javier Vazquez (2006: 11-12, 4.84 ERA in 33 starts) and Freddy Garcia (2006: 17-9, 4.53 ERA in 33 starts).

Assuming the Mets do complete their expected agreement with Alou, the 40-year-old would man left field, surrounded by Carlos Beltran in center field and Shawn Green in right field.

The bench would likely be comprised of Endy Chavez as a fourth outfielder and perhaps Johnson as a complementary fifth outfielder, although Milledge could challenge for that spot in the event he is not traded by spring training.

  • Glavine deadline approaching: The Mets are not expected to trigger their $14 million option on LHP Tom Glavine for next season, instead utilizing a $3 million buyout and making him a free agent.

    Glavine is still undecided as to where he wants to pitch next season. It is believed he would like the opportunity to discuss his situation with the Atlanta Braves.

    If Glavine returns, the Mets' rotation is currently comprised as follows: Glavine, RHP Orlando Hernandez, RHP John Maine, LHP Oliver Perez, with RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Brian Bannister or RHP Philip Humber as the fifth starter.

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