Mets fans have already begun speculation about the upcoming offseason. After all, there’s not much drama left in this season, besides finding out how many more times Nick Evans will be designated for assignment, or if Chris Capuano will let his arm hair grow out. Two of the prominent names that have been speculated about have been Mike Pelfrey (explored here by fellow TRDMer, Alex Spatt), and Angel Pagan.
Pagan is in the middle of a seemingly disappointing season in 2011, batting .268/.327/.391, with 7 HRs and 27 SBs. He also spent some time on the Disabled List in April/May. On top of this, he has committed glaring errors, mostly mental, in the field and on the bases, reverting to the stigmatic behavior that plagued him before his breakout season in 2010.
So the question is, tender a contract to Pagan, or non-tender Pagan, and seek a CF solution elsewhere? First, let’s take a closer look at Pagan’s season.
Angel was handed the CF job in Spring Training when Carlos Beltran volunteered to move to RF. Pagan got off to an abysmal start, overswinging and perhaps feeling the pressure of playing every day in New York. In 69 at bats in April, he hit .159 with only 3 extra-base hits. Then, he went on the DL with a strained oblique. He returned in May and went 9 for 21, then hit .300 in June. He struggled in the month of July, but has rebounded in August, posting a .363/.389/.549 line.
If you take away April and July, Pagan would be batting .340. But as Scotty said in Star Trek III, “If my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon.”
So let’s compare Pagan’s numbers to his 2010 stats. Assuming he’ll have 100 more at bats from now until the end of the season, that would give him a little over 480 at bats. He had 579 ABs last year. Using 480 ABs as a given, Pagan would hit 10 HRs, 50+ RBIs, 25 2B, 4 3B, and 35 SB. Assuming he had 100 more at bats, he may have come close to equaling his offensive totals from 2010. If nothing else, it has been a respectable offensive season for an outfielder known for his athleticism and speed.
So, to tender or non-tender? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer spending outrageous fortune on a player who may not produce, or to take arms against a sea of free agents and Minor League prospects and hope they’ll contribute in 2012.
According to “baseball insiders,” if Pagan and the Mets go to arbitration, he would stand to win a $5MM salary for 2012. Going on numbers alone, and the prospect that Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker will likely not be ready for the majors next year, and the fact that there aren’t too many superior options (Coco Crisp anyone?) on the trade/free agent market, it makes sense for the Mets to retain Angel Pagan.
The spectre of his bonehead mistakes haunt this decision. But at worst, Pagan is a fourth outfielder. At best, for the Moneyball Mets, he’s their best option in CF, barring a torrid Spring by a Nieuewnhuis or a den Dekker. It seems, warts and all, that Pagan is the CF of 2012. Until the Mets get back on their financial feet, they’ll have to gamble on players like Angel, and hope their luck doesn’t run out.