Last year was Angel Pagan's breakout season with the Mets. In approximately half a season as an everyday player, Pagan hit .306, with 22 doubles, 11 triples, six home runs and 14 stolen bases. He also scored 54 runs and drove in 32.
The Mets' membership in the Injury of The Week Club forced Pagan into everyday duty in 2009. Now with the recent news about Carlos Beltran's arthroscopic knee surgery, Pagan will be forced into action again.
Assuming that the Mets don't acquire an interim centerfielder, Pagan will most likely play the position for about a month. Another good performance by Pagan could help the Mets now and in the long term.
When Beltran returns from his injury, he will take over in center field again, relegating Pagan to the bench. Therefore, with the recent acquisition of Jason Bay and with Jeff Francoeur playing every day in right field, Pagan will get few opportunities to play in the outfield. Because of the offensive prowess of the three outfielders, Jerry Manuel would probably not take any of them out of the game in the late innings unless if the game was a blowout.
Also, Sgt. Bay of the Yukon is under contract for at least four years, Beltran's contract doesn't expire until after the 2011 season and Francoeur is also under team control until 2011 when he becomes eligible for free agency. That would leave Pagan on the bench for two seasons.
If Pagan has a strong start for the Mets when he fills in for Beltran at the beginning of the 2010 season, the Mets might be inclined to trade him at maximum value. Once he moves to the bench, his value will certainly go down. Of course, he'd be the first player to take over in the outfield should Bay, Beltran or Francoeur go down with an injury, but we can't expect every season to be like 2009, right?
The Mets could package Pagan and a prospect for the pitching help they desperately need. Anytime a team can add to their pitching staff without trading away an everyday player, it must be looked into.
I enjoyed watching Angel Pagan play in 2009. He was exciting, aggressive (sometimes overly aggressive) and went all out to help the team win. He also allowed the Mets to plug in a player in the outfield without trading away their entire farm system to get another outfielder when they were still relatively close to a playoff spot in July.
However, he may not get many at-bats in 2010 after Carlos Beltran is deemed ready to play by his doctors or the Mets team doctors. (who knows where the final say will come from these days?)
A good start by our Angel in the outfield will certainly help the Mets in April. But more importantly for the long term success of the team, a good start might end up helping the Mets at the trading deadline.