Pagan’s Maturing Giving Mets Options

Last winter, when the Mets signed Jason Bay, I was struck by the amount of talented players whom the Mets had procured and had to play the outfield in 2010. I envisioned an outfield of Beltran flanked by Bay and the ex-Brave Jeff Francoeur, who had come to the Mets in the Ryan Church deal, and had been a lineup stalwart for the disappointing injury riddled 2009 Mets

Angel Pagan, who had filled in for the aforementioned Beltran during his summer long injury hiatus, had posted excellent numbers proving he could patrol the outfield for this team. Before Carlos Beltran’s knee injury, and subsequent surgery, I thought Pagan would be a great player off the bench, he would be insurance in CF guarding against another injury to Beltran, and be able to spot Bay and Francoeur.

He’d also be able to allow Jerry Manuel the latitude to rest Jose Reyes more judiciously than ever with Alex Cora because Angel could hit leadoff, making Reyes more effective than ever with his primary weapon, his legs…

In my own mind, I believed with those four and a fifth outfielder like Chris Carter who could handle the bat, the Mets would be able to match anyone in the NL as far as outfield talent and depth.

We all know those plans went for naught. Beltran’s injury, Bay’s power outage, and Francouer’s ineffectiveness offensively have reminded all of Met nation, that games are played on the field, not on paper during the winter. Out of Beltran’s protracted injury, one pleasant thing has become readily apparent. Angel Pagan is no 4th outfielder. Angel Pagan is a competent, starting MLB outfielder.

Last season, he showed quickness and athleticism with the bat. He also showed an inability to run the bases and understand situational base running, something, along with an injury history, that held him back from being considered anything more than a 4th outfielder type. In my opinion, he also had a rather odd way of tracking fly balls which occasionally made him look lost in the outfield on balls hit at him.

Jerry Manuel decided to give Gary Matthews Jr. the starting assignment out of the gate this spring. But GMJ had shown that he just doesn’t have much left in his bag of tricks. (A nice way of saying he’s done) When J-Man inserted Pagan into the starting outfield in Colorado however, the player showed he should have been starting from day 1…

As we continue to hear whispers that Beltran’s return may be slated for around the all star break, an interesting dilemma may be brewing for this team.

The dilemma: Pagan is forcing this franchise and it’s management team and fan base to take notice of his production.

Not his potential, not his clubhouse leadership, not his salary, not his power or lack of it, not his injuries, none of the other areas we cite with those currently flanking him or getting ready to try and replace him.

The Mets should hold onto Angel Pagan for as long as possible in my opinion.

He shouldn’t be dealt for pitching or dealt for anything else. Angel Pagan is a keeper. Angel Pagan should be kept to be inserted into a RF platoon at the bare minimum with Jeff Francoeur, if not taking the RF job outright from FrancoeurFrancoeur upon Beltran’s return.

Pagan has earned it through his production and his hard work trying to replace the lost skill set of an irreplaceable player for this franchise in Beltran. He needs to be kept here to insure that Beltran can be given off a day or two when his knee starts barking. Or as with any arthritic condition, an even longer spell. He needs to be kept here to give the Mets options for the manager when Jose Reyes needs to rest his legs. Angel Pagan needs to be kept here to give options to the GM to make deals that could shore up weaknesses in other areas of the team without creating a new void.

Carlos Beltran’s contract runs out after the ‘11 season. Angel Pagan needs to be here. He gives this franchise options. He’s forced his way into any conversation regarding the future through his hard work, improvement, and team first attitude…