Browsing Archive November, 2010

Free Agent Focus: Second Base

Is there a Mets fan alive who wants to see Luis Castillo at second base on Opening Day 2011?

Unfortunately, it will take a minor miracle by Sandy Alderson to move him this winter — without swallowing some or all of the $6M left on his contract.

But let’s pretend Castillo is out of the picture, and the Mets are looking at the free-agent market to take his place. In such a case what are the Mets’ options?

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2010 Analysis: Angel Pagan

If not for R.A. Dickey, Angel Pagan would be the Mets’ runaway team MVP.

Miraculously, Gary Matthews Jr. and not Angel Pagan was the 2010 Opening Day centerfielder. Think about that for a moment. Now that you’ve thought about it, was it any surprise that the previous management regime is history?

After looking like a bonafide starting MLB centerfielder through 88 games in 2009, there was some question as to whether Pagan was the real deal. Well, he kept up the pace and then some in 2010, leading the team in hits (168), batting average (.290), and stolen bases (37), while finishing second or third in nearly every other offensive category. Additionally, he played stellar if unspectacular defense in centerfield until Carlos Beltran returned, then played stellar and occasionally spectacular defense in right field.

Without Pagan, the Mets might have struggled to stay ahead of the Nationals and out of the NL East basement.

2011 Projection

It would seem that Pagan has proven he can be a solid, occasionally exciting, MLB centerfielder. However, Carlos Beltran is likely to return to centerfield if he is not traded during the winter. If indeed Beltran is still a Met come April, and does not move from center, it is assumed that Pagan will be penciled in as the starter in one of the corners. Alternatively, Sandy Alderson could make the very shrewd move of trading Pagan while his stock is high, gambling that the soon-to-be 30-year-old (in July 2011) has peaked. Considering that much of Pagan’s game is reliant on his wheels, and he has had an injury-plagued career, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to trade him now for the right package of young talent. Personally, I hope he sticks around, as his game is tailored to Citi Field and I thoroughly enjoy watching him play.

Read the 2009 evaluation of Angel Pagan

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Mets Get a D for Terry Collins

Jon Heyman of SI.com recently posted a “report card” of the managerial hirings this winter. In the article, he gave the Mets a “D+” for the hiring of Terry Collins, rating it #10 of 10 hirings — in other words, dead last.

If you have been reading MetsToday for at least a month, you know that Terry Collins was not my favorite choice. Despite that, I can’t put much stock into Heyman’s report card.

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2010 Analysis: Jesus Feliciano

Through 13 minor league seasons, all Jesus Feliciano did was hit, hit, and hit some more, posting a career .285 batting average while playing solid outfield defense.

However, he didn’t do much else. For example, he didn’t get on base very often until fairly recently, he didn’t do anything extraordinary on the bases, and he didn’t hit for much power. In many ways, he was the minor league, outfield version of Luis Castillo: a singles hitter with above-average speed and solid defensive skills. Unfortunately for Feliciano, there isn’t much demand for an outfielder with Luis Castillo‘s offensive skill set.

Thanks to a rash of injuries, Feliciano finally made it to the bigs in 2010, and showed a ton of hustle, strong fundamentals, and the ability to put the bat on the ball. He didn’t get the ball to fall safely often enough to turn heads (.231 AVG / .276 OBP / .563 OPS in 119 plate appearances), but he did provide entertainment with his occasional RBI singles, strong defense, and passion for the game. His MLB debut at age 31 was an inspiration and one of the feel-good stories of 2010.

2011 Projection

Unless something awful happens in 2011, there likely isn’t room in the Mets outfield for Jesus Feliciano. I imagine he’ll either move on to another organization or return to Buffalo next season, and keep grinding it out. He knows how to play the game, respects it, and should have a career as a coach or manager some day if he chooses to go that route.

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2010 Analysis: Nick Evans

How do we evaluate a player who had only 37 plate appearances at the Major League level? A difficult, if not impossible task.

Evans fought his way back to the bigs after a terrible slump that pushed him down to AA in 2009. He began the ’10 season in AA as well, smacking 17 HRs in 88 games before a late-season promotion to AAA. He continued to swing the bat well for Buffalo, finishing with a .314 AVG / .384 OBP / .557 SLG in 157 plate appearances. He was part of the MLB expanded roster in September and hit .306 while used primarily as a pinch-hitter.

What Evans showed us in 2010 was similar to what we saw of him in 2008 — a long swing that showed potential power but also a vulnerability to swinging and missing, adequate defense, and slow baserunning. Though his minor league numbers have historically suggested that he has a patient approach and good strike zone discipline, but he has yet to show either at the MLB level — probably because he hasn’t been given enough regular duty; pinch-hitters are generally expected to be aggressive. Evans may also have changed his approach in MLB due to confidence issues, and/or a need to prove his ability. Whatever the case, it would be interesting to see what Evans might accomplish if given an extended opportunity.

2011 Projection

Evans turns 25 in January, and has shown signs of improvement as a minor leaguer. He should be given every opportunity to win a job on the big club as a utilityman / pinch-hitter. Personally I’d love to see what might happen with a platoon of Evans and Chris Carter in LF but that’s unlikely to happen unless something drastic changes with the current outfield situation.

One thing that I continue to wonder about is whatever happened to Evans’ attempt at catching? He can already handle the outfield and infield corners, and adding catching to his resume would seem to be a no-brainer — both for the Mets and Evans — if he can handle it even in an emergency situation. If anyone has any info on the subject, please post in the comments.

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