Newsday’s Ken Davidoff characterizes the Mets acquisition of Ben Johnson as a move that might render Lastings Milledge surplus to requirements in Flushing.

The jewel of the Mets’ farm system a year ago, Milledge (above) now appears more like a present trade chip than a future Mets All-Star.

“There’s a lot of interest in some of my young guys,” Minaya said Wednesday at the Naples Grande. “My young starters, definitely some of my young outfielders. But it’s one of those things where it’s got to be the right names.”

If Milledge does return to the Mets in 2007, it might speak as much to other teams’ lack of interest in him as it does to the Mets’ desire to keep him.

The Mets have spoken with the White Sox about their abundance of starting pitchers, but Chicago would want a pitcher — like Mike Pelfrey — and not Milledge, in return, a person familiar with the situation said.

Mets officials internally discussed the idea of offering Milledge and reliever Aaron Heilman to the Blue Jays for Vernon Wells, with the idea of moving the centerfielder Wells to rightfield and shifting Shawn Green to left. But Toronto would need more than that package if it were to move the All-Star Wells, who is a year away from free agency. Milledge would be a natural piece of a package to land Florida’s Dontrelle Willis, if the Marlins became amenable to such talks.

Of course, other teams’ reluctance to give up value for Da Edge would have nothing whatsoever to do with the way the player was repeatedly buried in the New York papers, if not by axe-grinding scribes (hello, Wally!) or by his own teammates (ie. the “know your place” episode).

Stymied in his attempts to land The Big Hurt or Daisuke Matsuzaka, Texas owner Tom Hicks tells’s T.R. Sullivan, “this offseason has all the makings of a stupid market,” Hicks said. “I’m personally concerned about it.” I’m loathe to argue with a man that gave Chan Ho Park $65 million dollars. If anyone can suss out a stupid market, it’s gotta be Hicks.