Angel in the Outfield: No Manny Could Mean Second Shot for Pagan

Lou CappettaAnalyst IIFebruary 20, 2009

Last season, a corner outfielder for the Mets got off to a good start at the plate, became a fan favorite and played very good defense, only to see it be derailed by injury.

Most Mets fan would read that and immediately think of Ryan Church, New York starting right fielder at the beginning of the 2009 season.

While that description does fit the concussion-prone Church, there is another player who was in the Mets outfield mix last season only to have his season was interrupted by injury.

Angel Pagan was acquired prior to the 2008 season in a trade with the Chicago Cubs in exchange for two minor-leaguers.

The switch-hitting Pagan was thought to be the fourth outfielder going into 2008, with a chance for plenty of playing time due to Moises Alou's age and injury history.

Alou was injured almost from the onset of the season, and Pagan got his chance to play everyday in left field.

He proved to be a decent hitter, batting as high as number two in the batting order at times, while playing excellent defense along side Church and Carlos Beltran.

Then came the injury.

Pagan would play in only 31 game in 2009. In those game, Pagan batted .275 with 12 runs scored, 13 RBI, an OBP .346 and 4 stolen bases. Nothing in the realm of Manny Ramirez, but solid all-around numbers.

So now that he's healthy and in Port St. Lucie for spring training, why is he not being mentioned as a possible option to play left field?

As of right now, the Mets seem to be leaning toward a platoon in left field of Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy.

Tatis came back to baseball last season after only playing in 28 big league games since 2003. He played 92 games for the Mets in 2008, and in his limited playing time he was outstanding, batting .297, with 11 homers, 47 RBI and 33 runs scored. He also was one of the few Mets to consistently hit in the clutch, batting .392 with 4 homer and 36 RBI with runners in scoring position.

Daniel Murphy showed he could play last season batting .313 with a .397 OBP in 49 games. The Mets seem to be very high on this guy, and if he plays well may even become the full time starter before the season is over.

The troubling thing about this platoon, is that it's unknown. Is Tatis really this good, or will he come back to Earth? Can Daniel Murphy do what he did in 49 games for a full season, or will pitcher start to figure him out? Also, both of these guys are not natural left fielders, so how much defense can be expected of them?

The Mets also have Jeremy Reed in camp, with an expectation that he will make the 25-man roster. The former Seattle Mariners prospect was acquired in the same trade that brought JJ Putz to NY.

Reed is a guy who has speed and plays excellent defense, but has proven so far in his four year career to not be much of a hitter. If the Mets do decide to go with the Tatis/Murphy platoon, then Reed will almost definitely be used as a late-inning defensive replacement.

Pagan is in Port St. Lucie with the Mets for spring training, but so far has not been mentioned in the out field mix. With the exception of the power of Tatis, he is pretty much all three guys rolled into one.

He bats from both sides of the plate, is a good fielder, a solid hitter and he has some speed. But for some reason or another, he seems to have been forgotten, even by Mets fans.

The fact that the Mets did not bring in a high profile player like Manny Ramirez to play left field bodes well for Pagan. The Mets seem determined to look from within to fill the hole in left field.

The fact that the Mets also have Tatis, Reed and Murphy all more than likely going to make the 25 man roster, mean that Pagan may be the odd man out.

Pagan has a lot to prove in spring training, but if he does well, he may just end up being an Angel in the Mets outfield.