While his stats don’t back up his importance, the return of Angel Pagan (whenever that may be) will be significant to the success of the 2011 New York Mets.

While Pagan in the early going hasn’t built off his impressive numbers of 2010 in which he hit .290 with 11 home runs, 69 RBI’s, 80 runs and 37 stolen bases, Pagan will play a key role if the Mets can become any sort of contender. His impact could have an effect on whether the Mets become sellers at the trade deadline.

Going into Friday’s game at 13-18 and in last place in the NL East, the Mets need every healthy bat in the lineup and desperately need a return of the 2010 Angel Pagan.

Pagan was most recently shelved with an oblique injury and was expected to be activated on Saturday. That may longer be the case, as Pagan suffered a setback in his rehab and will have more testing done.

The Mets got a surprising jolt from Pagan last year, but Pagan has struggled at the start of this year. Thus far on the season in 69 at-bats, Pagan has batted .159 with only three extra base hits and six RBI’s. His OBP (.259) and SLG (.246) numbers are also very disheartening.

Maybe Pagan has played with this injury, hence leading to the slow start. Another issue to take into consideration is where do you bat Pagan?

Pagan has batted anywhere between second, fifth and sixth. For Pagan to be successful he needs a stable setting in the lineup.

Pagan is mostly effective in the two-hole, and as long as he is healthy he should return to that spot when he returns from the DL. The only issue is if you slot Pagan there, you could possibly have three lefties in a row near the bottom of the order in Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy and Josh Thole. That could cause quite the conundrum. To fix this, perhaps Terry Collins should move Davis to the five-hole and have Bay bat sixth. Not a stretch there, considering the hot start  Davis is off to.

So far, the Mets have had their full projected lineup in only one game. Coincidentally that game, a 9-1 drubbing of the Astros, was the beginning of the Mets six-game winning streak.

While Jason Pridie (.242/.306/.485) has filled in admirably for Pagan, he is no real threat with his bat and the Mets need to know what their full lineup can bring to the table. With a healthy Pagan and Jose Reyes at the top of the lineup, they can do terror on the basepaths and make it easier for David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Davis and Bay to drive in runs.

Many will say it’s still early to panic, but when is it time to recognize who you are and assess where you stand in the landscape of the National League? Many pundits are saying the Mets will be a seller at the trade deadline.

I’d like to see how a fully healthy Mets lineup would look like for an extended time before I start the fire sale. A return of Pagan could only help with that notion

For now, we’ll have to wait on pins and needles to see how serious Pagan’s setback really is.

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