(timeline swiped from Amazin’ Avenue)

There’s another 5 weeks of garbage time baseball to come from the New York Mets, and after last night’s 9-2 humiliation at the hands of the NL East-leading Braves, one of the parties most responsible for a horrendous 2010 campaign was sacrificed for the mere return of Joaquin Arias. There’s not likely to be many bloggers, journalists, SABRmetricians, baseball fans or persons who aren’t in comas that will come to the defense of RF Jeff Francoeur. Some folks have even resorted to extensive visual aids (see above) to illustrate Francoeur’s futility, but few have considered the depth of Omar Minaya’s failure as thoroughly as Metsradamus :

Lastings Milledge had been talked about as a guy who could bring back Barry Zito or Manny Ramirez in a trade. Instead, the deal fell apart because of money(of course). Milledge was exposed to the major leagues, then traded for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Schneider was about as useful as creamed spinach at a Texas barbecue and was released. Church, who was devalued further by Snoop Manuel’s fascination with getting Gary Sheffield at-bats, and even further by Mets doctors who thought “yeah, he can get on the plane”, was traded for Jeff Francoeur last season. Frenchy, after another brutal loss to the Atlanta Braves, was traded to Texas for Arias … who was recently demoted to make room for Alex Cora. That’s how good Joaquin Arias is.

Alex Cora.

Please don’t, under any circumstances, bring up the irrelevant fact that Lastings Milledge is no great shakes as a ballplayer. While true, it’s not the point. Good GM’s recognize the value of a prospect and protect it until his career takes off or until it’s time to trade him for a major piece to augment the major league club. Bad GM’s wait until the entire world sees the flaws of the crown jewel, and trades him for a light hitting catcher and a halfway-decent outfielder. If the Mets knew that this guy was a pretender and waited until everyone else saw it too to trade him, that’s inexcusable. Almost as inexcusable as trading Scott Kazmir for their own percieved value rather than the value he actually had in the marketplace.