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Damn! Beaten to the Punch on Angel Pagan

Following my wildly successful article on whether Mike Pelfrey is a non-tender a candidate, I was planning on writing a similar post on Angel Pagan. I was going to wait, though. What was the rush? Well, the Daily News beat me to it, writing on Tuesday:

Batting .232, with a .306 on-base percentage, Pagan has not impressed some members of the new regime. One team insider even speculated – while stressing that he was merely thinking aloud, and no decisions have been made – that Pagan was a candidate to be non-tendered this winter.

paganPagan is making $3.5 million this season, and will likely command $4 million at a minimum in his final arbitration year. That is a lot of money to pay for an injury-prone player who hasn’t looked very good on the field all season long.

Now, before you say I am jumping on the anti-Pagan bandwagon because his performance was down, let me point out that I was anti-Pagan even when he was playing well last season. Looking ahead to last year’s trade deadline, I wrote on July 27, 2010:

I would also explore the trade value of Angel Pagan. Pagan is overachieving this season, and his trade value will never be higher.

Then again on August 3, 2010, wondering if the Mets still had a chance at the Wild Card:

Angel Pagan has been a Godsend (even though I still think he’s overachieving and would include him in a trade for a big bat or a front-line pitcher).

And finally on August 18, 2010, looking ahead to 2011:

I don’t think Angel Pagan is the answer. He has been excellent this season — perhaps the team’s MVP — but I think he is overachieving, and will come down to earth next season.

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so (that actually wasn’t so bad). Pagan is one of those guys who “figured it out” later in his career. I just don’t trust players like this — not for steroid reasons or anything like that, but if the player was any good to start with, he would have figured it out when he was younger. Jayson Werth is a prime example — now the Nationals have a $126 million player hitting .217. Jose Bautista seems to be the exception to my rule, although everyone apparently saw the potential in him — he just needed the right coach to teach him.

In any case, Pagan might prove to be more expensive than his production dictates, and if the rest of the league feels the same way and a trade is impossible, it wouldn’t be surprising for the Mets to just kick him loose in the off-season.

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