Hmmm… there was probably a better pun to be made there. Oh well, moving on.

I’m among the minority of Mets fans that, even after his 2011 season, still liked Angel Pagan. I could certainly understand why so many other Mets fans were frustrated with him. But I never understood the logic behind the non-tender rumors (a subject I went into some depth about in an earlier piece). Debating with other Mets fans about Pagan’s value and why I thought a non-tender made absolutely no sense probably made me a stauncher supporter of Pagan than I would have otherwise been. So late last night, when I heard that Angel Pagan had been traded to the Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez, my initial reaction was disappointment. Followed by sleep.

In the light of day, however, the trade doesn’t bother me so much. I remind myself that Pagan wasn’t, in fact, non-tendered, which was the move I was most concerned about. Angel Pagan will be a free agent next fall and is not the type of core piece that a rebuilding franchise (like the Mets) should go to great lengths to keep around. He’ll also make something in the $4.5-5M range in arbitration, which for a cash-strapped team (like the Mets) isn’t exactly cheap. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that he’s a good player who will have a big year in 2012, and I still think that he got a disproportianate amount of grief from Mets fans, but I can see the value in moving him.

The return on the trade is helpful for the Mets. In Andres Torres, they get a player who has actually been more valuable (per fWAR) than Pagan over the past 3 years. Even ignoring defense (Torres’ forte), they’ve been reasonably comparable hitters over the past 3 years. Torres will be 34 on Opening Day, while Pagan will be 30, so I don’t buy that Torres will be a better hitter than Pagan in 2012. But it’s not unreasonable to think that he will be adequate with the bat. And defensively, while I don’t think Pagan will be as bad as he was in 2011, Torres is flat-out superb. That’s particularly important when you’ve got an average fielder in left and a statue in right. Taking my own pro-Pagan biases and expectations out of the equation, it’s not hard to view Torres for Pagan as a lateral move for the Mets. Especially when you consider that Pagan is likely to make some $2M more than Torres in 2012 and that Torres is under Mets control for 2013, while Pagan is a free agent at the end of next season.

The real bonus here, though, is that the Mets got a second player from the Giants, RHP Ramon Ramirez. The 30-year old reliever has bounced around the league since making his debut for the Rockies in 2006. He’s posted an ERA under 3.00 in each of the last 4 seasons, he’s got decent K and BB numbers, and he’s been very durable, appearing in at least 66 games in each of the past 4 seasons (he ranks 5th in MLB in appearances over that period). Although we all know how much the durability tag was worth when the Yankees acquired Pedro Feliciano last year. Still, Ramirez, who will make something in the $2M neighborhood in 2012 (his final arbitration year before free agency), will be an asset for a Mets team that struggled to find a winning combination in the pen last year.

Ultimately, the trade helped shore up an area of concern (the bullpen), and didn’t create any gaping holes. Losing Pagan makes the leadoff spot a little more unsettled, but as a believer in the virtual irrelevence (or at least overratedness) of lineup construction, this isn’t a major concern for me. The trade also rid the Mets of a player who (despite my appreciation) was reportedly unpopular with the team (reports I take with a healthy dose of skepticism) and definitely unpopular with the bulk of the Mets fanbase. Bottom line: I still think that for the 2012 season, Pagan will be the best player involved in this trade, but it’s a move that made sense for the Mets to make.

*****

If you’re interested in Major League transactions, rules, and procedures, or if you just want to know which Mets have options left and what picks the Mets will get for Jose Reyes, be sure to check out tpgmets.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @tpgMets.

14 comments on “Angel Pa-Outta Here

  • Brian Joura

    For the headline, you could have went “Last Pagan Rites”

    If Torres is as good defensively as his numbers indicate – I really like this trade. The Mets really need someone with good range out there. And Ramirez looks like a nice bullpen arm.

    I wish Angel well with the Giants. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he had a nice rebound season. I do wonder how his power will fare in whatever they’re calling SF ballpark these days…

    • Chris Walendin

      I also read an article this morning about Torres being active in the community and just a good off-field role model in general. I like hearing that kind of stuff about guys the Mets acquire.

      I could see both Ramirez & Torres having value at the trade deadline, too. Ultimately, I’m more pro-Pagan than anti-this trade, which is something it took a few hours for me to realize.

      Re: the title, I was just joking, pretending I’d missed the much more obvious “Angel Pa-Gone”. I have a quirky sense of humor. But I like Last Pagan Rites, too.

  • Bus

    I liked Pagan a lot and he and Ike were just about the only reasons to watch the Mets in 2010, but his defense this year scared me. I’m glad they got something real good in the trade for him, and I like Torres because even though his offense was diminished compared to 2010, he still had a UZR around 10 and this, in my opinion is essential, so the young pitchers coming up can be confident that their CF will make all the plays.

    • Chris Walendin

      I fully expect Pagan to rebound defensively in 2012. His 2011 left a bad aftertaste, but his career prior to last season suggests he’s actually an above average to plus defender. That said there’s little doubt that even with a rebound from Pagan, Torres is a defensive upgrade at the position.

  • Mike Koehler

    I think I’m with you, Chris. Pagan was one of my favorites last year, but just recently I started to hear stories about how he quit on himself and I figure maybe 2010 was a fluke after all.

    In the end, the Mets replaced a borderline starter/solid fourth outfielder for a different type of good fourth outfielder along with a nice bullpen arm. The deal makes sense for the team and once the season actually begins, Crazy Horse will likely be a faded memory at best.

    • Chris Walendin

      The only problem I have with labeling 2010 a fluke for Pagan is then what do you do with 2009, when he was actually better? Do you lump it in and say 2009-10 was a fluke? Can you, given that more than half his career plate appearances have come in those 2 seasons?

      And the problem with the stories, at least the ones I’ve heard, is that they’re all so vague. If I’m to believe Pagan was a quitter or a problem, I’d like to read about specific events from non-anonymous sources is all.

      But ultimately, I do agree that the deal makes sense for the Mets right now.

  • Metsense

    Going into the winter the Mets needed to improve their team defense and relief pitching and Sandy did it with this trade. For all those that didn’t want to tender Pagan, this trade proved why it is important to hold onto a player with some value. I’m thinking the same now about Paulino because teams need catchers and if the Mets non tender him then someone will pick him up for nothing. Paulino should then be traded before spring.

    • Chris Walendin

      Interesting thought about Paulino. I have no idea what his value to the Mets or on the market is, but if either exceeds his expected cost (something like $1.8M I’d guess), then maybe this FO will do exactly what you suggest. Either way, we’ll find out in a few days, since the non-tender deadline is right around the corner (December 12th).

  • Brandon Lee

    I love the move personally because I’m a big avocet for a strong bullpen. I also think it’s time the Mets made Fernando Martinez their starting center fielder. When he is healthy in the minors he hits, and playing in the minor won’t improve his health. He’s going to get hurt regardless, whether it’s in the minors or majors, so might as well put him in the majors. Torres is a solid bat off the bench and can replace Bay or Duda (unfortunately not both) in the late innings in the field.

    • Chris Walendin

      Martinez has played just 13 games in CF since the end of the 2008 season. I don’t think the Mets think he can handle center defensively. If he can stay healthy (gigantic if), he should be viewed as an option for a corner outfield position who could fill in in CF only in a pinch (similar to how Justin Turner could fill in at SS in a pinch, but you wouldn’t want to leave him there for any length of time).

      Kirk Nieuwenhuis is the most advanced CF prospect in the system, but he missed most of the 2011 AAA season with a shoulder injury. He hit well before the injury, although his numbers are buoyed by a .400+ BABIP and come with a lot of Ks (though also a healthy number of BBs). There are questions about whether Kirk can handle center at the MLB level, too, although he’s viewed as a much better option for the position than Martinez.

      Matt Den Dekker, who finished 2011 in AA, is the best defensive CF in the system, but there are questions as to whether he’ll hit enough to be a successful Major Leaguer. He hit for solid power in both Advanced A and AA last year, but he struck out a ton and didn’t hit for much average.

      Both Nieuwenhuis (who is on the 40-man roster) and Den Dekker (who is not) are guys to watch with an eye on the Mets’ CF job, but for the 2012 season, especially the first few months, expect to see a lot of Andres Torres.

      • Brandon Lee

        Well there is a reason he’s only played 13 games since 2008; Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan. And getting hurt himself every time he turns on a light switch doesn’t help. Plus his career URZ in center is better than his right and left statistics.
        I just feel if he is healthy, he is the best option for the Mets in center. I also like Kirk, it’s just a matter of health. Either way, I think they should give it to one of their prospects, and let Torres be the 4th outfielder.

        • Bus

          I haven’t given up on F-Mart being a very good regular player just yet, but if he is, it will likely be in a corner spot.

          • Chris Walendin

            I’m of the same opinon regarding Martinez. But if he can’t stay on the field this year…

        • Chris Walendin

          That was 13 games in the minors. He also logged 8 in the Majors. Overall, in the past 3 seasons, Martinez has played just 10% of his games in center, including none of the 75 games he played in last year.

          Regarding UZR, it may be better in CF than left or right, but that’s based on just 64 innings in which he had 21 defensive chances. Per the FanGraphs primer on UZR, “Beware of sample sizes! Like with any defensive statistic, you should always use three years of UZR data before trying to draw any conclusions on the true talent level of a fielder.”

          Perhaps the most telling evidence that Martinez isn’t considered an option for CF is that no one around the team or in the media is suggesting that he’s an option. At least no one that I’ve seen. If there’s any chance he can play center, then they will absolutely give him a shot at it this spring. I just wouldn’t expect it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: