When the Mets placed Angel Pagan on the disabled list, they surprised some by recalling Jason Pridie to take his place. Pridie was not hitting early in Triple-A, and some thought Nick Evans deserved a shot for getting the short end of the stick in the past or that prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis merited a promotion based on his early production at Buffalo.

But with Pagan down and the Mets unwilling to play Carlos Beltran in center field, Evans had little shot of getting the call. And the Mets would have had to add Nieuwenhuis to the 40-man roster to promote him to the majors, something they were not ready to do. So almost by default it became Pridie, despite his .582 OPS in the International League.

Originally a second-round selection of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Pridie was taken one pick ahead of Joey Votto. While no one expected big power numbers from him, the scouting reports said that Pridie could do a little bit of everything and he drew comparisons to both Johnny Damon and Steve Finley, two players who had success in the majors over long periods of time.

Pridie did not burn up the minors, but he proved enough to be selected by the Twins in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft. He did not last the year in the majors with Minnesota and eventually wound up back with Tampa Bay before the end of the year. But the Twins eventually got him back, as he was included in the big Matt GarzaDelmon Young trade between the two clubs after the 2007 season.

The combination of Denard Span and Carlos Gomez made Pridie expendable in Minnesota and he was waived by the Twins prior to the start of Spring Training last year. He was signed by the Mets and played adequately in 40 games at Triple-A, where he posted a .280/.330/.384 line. He still showed good speed and defensive ability, but hardly the power that was expected back when he was drafted.

Pridie had a shot to win a backup job for the Mets in Spring Training, but he did not play well in the Grapefruit League and was easily beaten out by both Willie Harris and Scott Hairston for the reserve outfield positions. But the Pagan injury punched his ticket back to the majors.

In his brief time this year with the Mets, three of his seven hits have gone for extra-bases, including two home runs. In six games as a starter with the Mets, the club has gone 4-2, not including last night’s win when Pridie replaced Hairston and played the final seven innings in the Mets’ 2-1 win.

At age 27, and with 1,662 PA at Triple-A under his belt, Pridie has nothing left to gain by playing in the minors. So the question becomes: Should the Mets keep him when Pagan is ready to return from the disabled list?

Pridie can play all three outfield positions and looks comfortable out in center field. Meanwhile, neither Hairston nor Harris has been playing all that great here in the early going. But those two both offer something that the lefty-hitting Pridie does not, which may ultimately be the reason he returns to Triple-A.

Harris has the ability to play the infield while Hairston is a righty batter. Right now the only other major league caliber righty hitter on the bench is Ronny Paulino and most managers bend over backwards not to use their backup catcher unless it is absolutely necessary.

So, Hairston may wind up staying over Pridie, even though Hairston has not been a good hitter since the first half of the 2009 season. Pridie’s best hope to remain with the Mets, outside of maintaining his .538 SLG mark, is that the Mets cut ties with Chin-lung Hu, leaving Justin Turner to spell Jose Reyes if the Mets’ leadoff hitter is ever held out of the lineup.

2 comments on “Will Pridie remain when Pagan returns?

  • Larry

    For my money I’d be satisfied with keeping Pridie and releasing Willie Harris. While neither lefty can really hit at least Pridie doesn’t also hurt you in the field.

  • Mike Koehler

    I’d rather ditch Harris or Hairston than Pridie. Neither of the veterans have looked outstanding offensively or defensively (save for a short stretch to begin the season). I don’t expect Pridie to go nuts at the plate, but so long as he gets an occasional hit and can play solid defense at all three positions, he’s infinitely more useful.

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