Jumping On Berg’s Bandwagon

Over at the SNY site, Ted Berg has made a very unpopular proclamation, in regard to Angel Pagan:

There are plenty of arguments for Pagan opening the season in left field for the Mets, nearly all of which focus on his impressive Spring Training performance. I want to take this time to remind everyone jumping on the bandwagon that he’s enjoyed a run of success over merely 43 meaningless at-bats. Maybe he’ll fill in admirably for Moises Alou and prove me wrong, but color me skeptical.

Angel Pagan hitting for the MetsAs much as you might think I’d like to disagree with Berg, the fact is, he beat me to the punch.

Like Berg, I’m a huge fan of Angel Pagan and hoping against hope that he can keep up the hot streak. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I love guys such as Pagan who play the game “right” and do all the “little things”. But the fact is — as Berg pointed out — the Mets can’t expect to succeed over a long period with Pagan in left field.

Ryan Church is only average offensively in right field — I’m not even sure he’ll outperform Shawn Green with the bat. Brian Schneider is expected to be slightly better than Rey Ordonez in the 8 hole. Carlos Delgado has me frightened — as much as I love Delgado, his best days are clearly in the past. Unless one of those three players surprises us, AND David Wright or Carlos Beltran becomes a 50-HR power, the Mets can’t afford to have Pagan’s bat in place of Moises Alou.

Again, I’m rooting for Pagan, but for the Mets to compete, he will have to hit in excess of .330 — from both sides — to provide value in the vulnerable Mets lineup. Let’s take a look at the Alou-less lineup:

1. Reyes
2. Castillo
3. Wright
4. Beltran
5. Delgado
6. Church
7. Pagan
8. Schneider
9. pitcher

That lineup is going to have BIG problems if Delgado hits like he did last year — particularly because as Delgado goes, so goes Beltran. If Delgado doesn’t hit, Beltran gets poor pitches and expands his zone. Even if Beltran is unaffected, slots five through nine are not enough to strike fear in a pitcher’s heart. Alou’s presence is important both for his bat and what he can do to help the rest of the lineup. Even if Pagan hits .300 — which is unlikely — it’s not enough to help anyone around him.

Unfortunately, none of the rumored external players — Shannon Stewart, Reed Johnson, Juan Rivera, etc. — are any better than what the Mets have now (Pagan, Brady Clark, Endy Chavez). And unless the Mets can unearth someone in a blockbuster, they have to give Pagan the opportunity to fail — he’s earned the leftfield position until further notice. But Pagan is going to have to continue his superhuman performance to provide value to the Mets — his expected, eventual fall to earth won’t be enough in the long run.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 March 13, 2008 at 7:36 am
    As we used to say in the old country:

    “Better save some of that for when it counts!”

    Nothing was worse than racking up meaningless exhibition hits, and sucking it up when it mattered.

    Much like grabbing a couple quick hits during a game that started under grey skies or a drizzle…..you always knew it you started out too good, that you’d eventually be leaving the field due to weather — and starting it over again sometime in the future.

    Pagan isn’t going to put up the numbers he’s put up thusfar in the Spring, and we all know that…..hopefully, yesterday’s chatter was a leak. And that Omar has something up his sleeve — in the form of acquiring some RH pop.

    Delgado’s looking bad as ever right now, and it’s not encouraging for the middle of the order.

  2. RockStar78 March 13, 2008 at 7:57 am
    Your fear about Delgado is warranted. 0-for-5 with 5 K’s is a problem. I know it’s only spring training, but he just looks bad. I have a very very hard time convincing myself that he will bounce back. I’m actually worried that he’ll regress even more from last year. If that happens and he’s on pace for a .235 15 HR season, then it’s going to put a lot of pressure on Omar to obtain a big time hitter.
  3. Walnutz15 March 13, 2008 at 8:06 am
    No doubt, Mr. RockStar — this Angel can only be a “Saint in Disguise” for so long.

    The Mets are going to need some help in the middle of the order….and Pagan doesn’t provide that in any way, shape, or form right now.

    Once again, the joint that holds the lineup together — hinges upon Moises Alou. He goes out for longer than we expected, then the lineup’s going to struggle — as Joe pointed out.

    It’s true….it’s true.

  4. whatdatmean March 13, 2008 at 10:41 am
    LF is the last of my concerns here. Whether it be Pagan, Clark, Chavez, Easley, or someone outside the Mets, who fill in for Alou…it isnt the biggest problem. Who really expected Alou to play a full year anyway?
    Delgado was brought here to be the 5 hitter and add power to the lineup…we have a problem. He was supposed to come to camp healed and ready for a bounce back year. That didnt happen, and forgetting results….he looks terrible. Right now, we have 3 strikeout prone lefties in the bottom half[delgado, church, & schneider], with no protection for beltran, and little power in the lineup.
    Trading for a 1B/OF as a backup in case he doesnt turn around, or the unlikely option of unloading Delgado and adding a new 1b. This has become a necessary evil at this time. Im talking a serious move that will cost talent and return a solution to the problem.
    I think it is serious enough to consider trading Heilman or guys like rustich/kunz/smith to get a decent backup.
    Hell, maybe a team will take a flier on him and give us something in return, like SF. Then we can swing a trade for a more permanent option.
    If we dont add new blood, we could fall behind early in the season as we will be without alou & stuck with a broken delgado. I hope that he has a very short leash to get his act together. This is a dangerous game they are playing here.
    The only other option is to change the lineup a little, which only masks the problem a little. IMO…
    7-pagan/easley/chavez-all hit lefties well
    wouldnt be too bad while alou is out, changing the 7 & 8 spots when castro is playing.
    church, delgado, and schneider need to be split up, and there is no way we can rely on delgado, as of right now, to bat 5.
    question is, can church handle hitting that high? I think it may be easier on him with 2 fast possibilities on base, and wright behind him, they have to be careful. 3 is also a good spot for a doubles machine.

    Its only ST, but Delgado makes me nervous. We need production from him for us to be successful, and i think we need to act now, before we really get desperate.

  5. isuzudude March 13, 2008 at 3:30 pm
    I’m an agreement with the whole here: Delgado’s offensive ineptness is worrisome, and Pagan isn’t the best option when considering replacements for the injured Alou. But there’s still 18 days (as per Joe’s countdown top-right) until opening day, which gives Delgado plenty of time to get his timing back and Omar time to find his temporary LF. I understand the concern, but it’s not time to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge quite yet.

    As an unrelated topic, here are some injury updates:
    Jason Vargas – torn labrum in left hip, out 3 months (surgery). As per Adam Rubin’s blog
    Brian Schneider – still dealing with hamstring pain http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/baseball/mets/blog/2008/03/update_on_injuries.html

    Also, apparently Kyle Lohse is signing with the Cardinals. No tears from me.

  6. Micalpalyn March 14, 2008 at 2:28 pm
    From rotoworld: ‘According to WFAN’s Ed Coleman, the Red Sox and Mets are working on a deal that would send Coco Crisp to New York for Angel Pagan.

    The Red Sox would be practically giving Crisp away, but they may feel they have no choice if he’s going to cause problems as a fourth outfielder. It’s not like there’s a real market for him when Corey Patterson can’t do better than a minor league deal and Kenny Lofton remains a free agent. Pagan at least can serve as a backup center fielder and would be content in the role, unlike Crisp.’

    I am commenting only after reading this blurb. It made no sense to believe we could get Crisp except that the soxx dump him.

    But I think this fits into our debate on the OF options we have.

  7. joe March 14, 2008 at 3:47 pm
    how does a guy move to Fenway and have his OBP and SLG DROP?

    the rumor was debunked quickly, but even if it wasn’t, I’d probably pass.