Sandy Makes The Right Call On Pagan

Welcome Metsmerized readers. My name is Drew and I’ve been a lifelong Mets fan since 1972, a season which began with tragedy after the death of beloved manager Gil Hodges. On the field, we got off to a great start that season with Yogi leading the way and the addition of Willie Mays, but eventually the injuries became too much to overcome (Staub’s injury killed us) and Jim Fregosi, who we traded Nolan Ryan for that offseason ended up being a huge flop. It was a lot like 2009 in that everyone had us pegged as favorites that year. We finished in third, but 1973 was just around the corner. I look forward to my experience writing for this great one-of-a-kind Mets blog.

So far, this offseason has been quite dull for those of us hoping to see the Mets get out in front of the competition while seeking to improve on their third consecutive 4th place finish in the NL East. The new GM however, prefers a slow and measured approach – opting to let other teams set the market for prized shortstop Jose Reyes, and also allowing rival teams to pick through the prime offerings while we wait to sift through the slim-pickings that remain at the end.

We saw this same approach last offseason. We were told the team was hand-cuffed and that they had little to no flexibility to do more, and they were right. “Next offseason will be much different”, they said, but by the looks of it, it’s not. In fact when you consider the potential loss of Jose Reyes, the only difference is that it might be worse.

One area that I felt needed improving this Winter was centerfield. For the last seven years, we didn’t have to worry too much about that position, but with Beltran now gone and his replacement Angel Pagan failing to deliver and actually regressing in 2011, it would seem an obvious area for the front office to improve upon. If all the reports of the last few months were true, the front office was not at all pleased with the prospect of another season with Pagan as the everyday centerfielder, but this week we learned that they’ve decided to tender him and risk having to pay him in upwards of $5MM dollars for 2012. What happened, why the sudden change of heart?

On the surface it would appear that this was a head-scratcher, at least it was for me. But I read an article by Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger that shed some additional light on this and in the end I agreed with the direction the Mets chose to go with regarding Pagan. First a quote by Sandy Alderson on the matter,

“I think Angel gave us quite a bit that maybe was underappreciated. Maybe the defense was not up to his expectation or even ours. But he gave us some speed on the bases. He filled in I think reasonably well for Jose Reyes when he was out…So if we have Angel in center field to begin next season, we’ll be happy with that.”

Pagan is no spring-chicken, he’ll be 31 next season, and he spends an awful amount of time nursing injuries throughout his career, but when you compare him to some of the other available centerfield options as McCullough did over the last three seasons, here is what you see:

Take a look at the center-field market, and how these players have performed since 2009:

Rick Ankiel: .235/.297/.378, .296 wOBA, 2.2 fWAR
Coco Crisp: .262/.326/.396, .332 wOBA, 7.0 fWAR
David DeJesus: .277/.349/.417, .334 wOBA, 8.5 fWAR.
Grady Sizemore: .234/.314/.413, .317 wOBA, 1.9 fWAR

And here’s Pagan: .284/.336/.422, .336 wOBA, 9.3 fWAR.

Don’t ask me what the numbers at the end are, I haven’t a clue, but the batting average, on-base and slugging work just fine for me and tells the story. Pagan has clearly outperformed the competition, can steal bases, is cheaper, and there’s a good chance he could see improvement both on offense and defense.

Alderson is making the right call here.