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Angel Pagan Dilemma

By Mike Silva ~ November 26th, 2011. Filed under: New York Mets.

Angel Pagan is one of the more difficult decisions the Mets have. On one hand, you have a player that has shown the potential to be a very well above average centerfielder on both sides of the ball. On the other hand, you have an oft-injured player that is prone to mental mistakes and has annoyed teammates with his perceived softness and selfishness. With the imminent departure of Jose Reyes, Pagan is the logical choice to take over the leadoff spot and replace his offense. Are the Mets better off taking the risk of overpaying Pagan (based on his 2011 performance), or should they trade him for rotation help?

The Indians recent signing of Grady Sizemore to a 1-year/$5  million dollar base salary is a clear sign the centerfield market will not be cheap. Pagan, arbitration eligible, will get a raise from his $3.5 million 2011 salary. Despite not having the resume of Sizemore, I could see Pagan commanding in the $5 million range both on the open market and in arbitration. At the very least, the Mets are on the hook for a salary of at least $4 million dollars. With the team on a tight budget would it behoove them to go more defense in center and see if they could deal Pagan for a #3 type of starter? Is this even possible?

The frustrating part is the Angel Pagan of 2009-2010 is as good as Reyes offensively in a normal year (2011 is an outlier for Reyes in my opinion). Over those two seasons, Pagan produced a .792 OPS and average 8 HRs, 50 RBI, and 26 stolen bases. His 113 OPS+ is higher than Reyes career average of 106.

The problem is what Pagan will show up in 2012? Even worse, what Pagan will show up at various points of the season? We have seen him go through stretches where he reminds us of Johnny Damon. We have also seen him embarrass himself on the field, make lazy mental errors, and turn off the organization with his attitude. Injuries are unavoidable, but Pagan seems to suffer from too many small nagging aches and pains that shouldn’t take him out of the lineup. His teammates and the front office noticed it this past season. Remember, he was originally run out of the Mets organization in 2006 because of his attitude. Lou Piniella wasn’t a fan of Pagan either, which prompted the Cubs to send him back to New York in 2008. He is a maddening type of player that has talent, but doesn’t seem to maximize it.

I think the answer is more of a wait and see approach. If you could receive a decent middle-of-the-rotation starter, then I am all for trading Pagan. Other options on the free agent market, such as local product David DeJesusRick Ankiel and Coco Crisp, might not have the total offensive upside of Pagan, but they play defense and can stay on the field. A starter/free agent centerfield combo is probably better than Pagan.

I do, however, believe the Mets aren’t in a position to just let Pagan walk away. You need to either get something decent for him, or go into 2012 hoping Terry Collins and the coaching staff can find the right buttons to push for a total 162 game effort. He is a free agent at the end of 2012, so there is a good chance he could be headed for a career year. That would best case scenario for both Pagan and the Mets.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Also check him out at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com He discusses all sports topics at is website www.mikejsilva.com. You could contact him professionally there as well.
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2 Responses to Angel Pagan Dilemma

  1. Tommy2cat

    Happy Thanksgiving, Mike.

    An analysis of Angel Pagan’s season last year reveals stretches where he struggled and stetches where he excelled. His struggles can be correlated to an oblique strain - to which he is susceptible, and to colitis - a condition that flared up last year more than usual , but not quite as publicized.

    If you can recall, he complained more than once about feeling light-headed and dehydrated and I believe those symptons derived from the colitis. I was surprised that Terry Collins appeared irritated by it, rather than appropriately sympathetic.

    Angel Pagan is a very good ballplayer. In the months that he was healthy - May, June, August & September, he batted .306 with an OPS well in excess of .800. His statistics with runners on base and in late and close situations is outstanding. He really bears down when the chips are on the table.

    I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Pagan. He is very, very strong - his hands have muscles upon muscles; he’s very intense - loves talking baseball and discussed how he prepares himself mentally in late & close situations; he’s a super nice guy - just had a way with my kids and family that was refreshing to see from a professional athlete.

    So, Angel Pagan, absolutely has my support. I don’t think we should trade him for a middle of the rotation arm, as we appear to have an abundance of them. If we could trade him in a package that would land Matt Garza, then that would be a trade we should explore. Otherwise, he’s more valuable to us in centerfield than any other candidate at present.

  2. Piazza

    Considering how thin and unattractive the free agent market for CFs is, he’s their best bet right now. Doesn’t matter whether or not you like him Mike.

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