What If Pagan Weren’t a Met?

With all the uproar associated with those who even DARE mention Angel Pagan‘s name in a potential Cliff Lee trade, I thought it would be appropriate to explore a certain scenario.  What if, just what if, Angel Pagan was putting up his 2010 numbers…… in another uniform.  In other words, what if Pagan were on the Braves, hitting .302 with 4 HR, 35 RBI, 41 R, 14 SB and exceeding everyone’s expectations in nearly every way.  As a Met fan, would a swap for Cliff Lee make you be happy to just see him off the Braves or would you think Atlanta got a steal of a deal and curse the fact that your team now had to deal with Lee within the division and down the playoff stretch?  Would you think a 29-year old outfielder (as of this coming Friday) who, in 9+ years of professional baseball has never hit more than 10 HR’s at any level and been on the DL 5 times from 2006-2009 (that is not a misprint), was an absolute coup for Seattle or would you think the Braves pulled a heist of Enron like proportions in selling high and securing one of the games 5 best pitchers to head up their rotation.  A guy who has proven throughout his career that he can flat out win against NL East competition (see career stats below) and when playoff tested came up with a performance for the record books (4-0 in 5 starts, 2 of which were against the Yankees in the World Series, with a 1.56 ERA) during Philadelphia’s 2009 World Series run.  Not to mention this is a guy who would undoubtedly have something to prove if he were to ever square off the Phillies after their offseason snub of the 2008 AL Cy Young award winner.

I’m not surprised that fans adore Pagan, Jay wrote a recent article outlining why he deserves all the support he has gotten (click HERE to read), but public opinion is seemingly reaching fanatic proportions.  The talks of dumping Beltran to open up room for Pagan continue to grow as fans label Carlos ‘injury prone’ (a label that I disagree with when you consider he routinely plays hurt in order to avoid trips to the DL).  I’m not sure you can find more than a handful of fans that would be willing to see Pagan traded for Lee.  I can agree that I don’t think Angel should be ousted from the starting line-up upon Beltran’s return.  With Beltran’s health still FAR from being proven, I’m not even sure I would be crazy about a Pagan trade for Lee without an extension involved, but I am in no way opposed to the subject being broached.  How is that topic taboo?

Sometimes, as a die hard Met fan, I have to catch myself when it comes to situations like this.  I have to try and distance myself from the every day play-by-play and emotional investment I have in the team.  I know team chemistry is important and am all for seeing Jose Reyes and Pagan laugh it up, but in the end if a team’s clubhouse nucleus is strong enough players (be they brought up from Triple-A, traded for, or claimed off waivers) will gravitate towards that.  With that being said, I’m in no way concerned with this team losing it’s sense of unity if Pagan were traded.  That’s not to say I want to see the trade happen, but if it did Reyes, Wright, Pelfrey, and even newcomers Barajas, Blanco, and Francoeur have the right attitude and mindset to keep things straight.

While Pagan is very good, he is not yet great, nor is he a 5-tool player.  Will he develop power?  Will he become great?  I would hope so because I am a huge Pagan fan, but his numbers give no indication that we should expect any type of power surge and he is more similar to Brett Gardner and David DeJesus than Carlos Beltran.  The chart below shows the the projected 2010 stats for each player should they continue at their current pace, except for Beltran whose stats are based on projections had he played a full season in 2009:.

I can only imagine the uproar that would ensue if the Yankees ‘robbed’ the Mariners for Lee by trading Brett Gardner and a pitching prospect.  I mean Brett Gardner, he’s solid, but for Cliff Lee…..c’mon.   So the question remains, what if we saw someone who hasn’t won our hearts but whose value may be at it’s pinnacle get traded for Cliff Lee.  What if Angel Pagan were simply not a Met?  Thankfully it’s not a question we have to answer just yet, but it’s worth considering when looking at what is going to give this team the best chance to win this year and down the road.

The Mets front office has done a tremendous job evaluating their high profiled talent over recent years.  Lastings Milledge is gone and nobody can criticize the Mets for the move.  Then there’s the Johan trade:  Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra for Santana.  Regardless of your opinion of Johan there’s no questioning that the Mets were absolutely spot on in their evaluation of the players they traded (only Guerra remains with the Twins organization at Double-A).  So why not have some faith in a front office that has done right by us in recent years?  A front office that has shown they will go out and pay for the best free agents to hit the market. If I asked you on April 5th, would you trade Angel Pagan in a deal for Cliff Lee, I strongly believe I would have received an emphatic YES!!! I just feel as though the Mets will have a better chance finding someone to take Pagan’s place than they are to find someone like Lee, who has proven he can be a dominant force at the top of a rotation in the regular season and playoffs.   Come to think of it, isn’t David DeJesus available????

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