The Giants did pretty well the last time they had a guy named Pagan in the lineup. Granted, it was 50 years ago when Jose Pagan was their shortstop and they pushed the Yankees to the final out of the 1962 World Series. Now, they have spirited away outfielder Angel Pagan from the Mets, saying goodbye to outfielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez.
From reading the media reports out of New York, the Mets-Pagan relationship soured by the end of the season. The New York Daily News said Pagan “regressed this season and became highly unpopular in the clubhouse.” Oh, dear.
Being a hemorrhoid is not the end of the world, especially if you have an OPS of 1.000. Lord knows the Giants have experience in that department. Angel Pagan might have an OPS of 1.000 in a week, but not a season. Therein lies the problem.
It’s at least instructive to see that a player less talented than, say, Barry Bonds apparently sulked when things went south. How will Pagan deal with possibly moving around in the lineup, and not playing every day, in San Francisco ? How will he endure cold nights in July ?
Or, on the flip side, will a change of scenery do him good? Will the trade, plus a chance to play for a winner, be enough of a jolt to motivate Pagan ? He had solid years in 2009 and 2010 so it’s possible he could return to form, and as a switch-hitter along with Melky Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval pose a problem for opposing managers.
Whatever’s going on between Pagan’s ears will determine whether this deal works. That’s the bottom line. He has stolen 69 bases in the last two seasons, batted as high as .309 and he’s had an on base percentage as high as .350 playing in a large ballpark. If he brings that to the table, things will end well for him and the Giants.
Pat Burrell arrived in 2010 with a less-than-sterling reputation in Tampa. It was a bad situation for him from the get-go, and it wasn’t a good clubhouse mix. Then, as Duane Kuiper might say, he became a Bitchin’ Guy in San Francisco.
Burrell had to perform with his bat first, however. And you know which bat I’m talking about. He mashed in the summer of 2010, and was a key cog in the Giants’ playoff run.
Nobody’s expecting 18 home runs out of Pagan but if his bat performs like last year, he’s not much use to the Giants. Defense ? He is decidedly inferior to Torres, so inserting him late in games at cavernous AT and T Park doesn’t seem to make much sense. Unless he’s replacing Aubrey Huff, and isn’t that a delightful proposition ?
Clubhouse chemistry is a tricky thing. The Giants have had a stellar group the last couple of seasons, and they’ve said goodbye to two important players from the 2010 championship run. Torres was by all accounts a really swell fella, and his story was inspiring, while Pagan’s reputation is much more sketchy.
None of that will matter if the Giants win and Pagan plays well, and his disposition will likely be pretty sunny in that case, anyway. As for Torres, he was a good guy but it was clear his 2010 season was an anomaly, and at best he’s a fourth outfielder for the rest of his career.
Nothing wrong with that; he can still make a buck in this racket. He says he’s been working on his swing with Juan Gonzalez ( which immediately raises the Red Flag ), and there is definitely some pop in his bat. I’m rooting for Torres to stay in the game for a few more years.
Ramirez was a pretty effective middle and late inning reliever for the Giants, and he won’t be hurt by pitching at Citi Field, even with more hitter-friendly dimensions. The Mets have made a big move to upgrade their bullpen, and Ramirez is a part of that. He’s pitched in Boston and in high-pressure situations with the Giants, so he should be able to handle the heat in New York.
It’s not like you can’t find middle relievers, though. The Giants should be able to find an arm or two to take his place via trade, free agency or the farm system ( i.e, Heath Hembree ).
As of this writing, there is another trade in the works, possibly involving Jeff Keppinger. I hate to disappoint Giants fans, but that will probably not bring a middle-of-the-order hitter, and the Giants have made it clear they have put a Chastity Belt on their wallet for the rest of the offseason. They are spent from their dalliances with Zito and Rowand, and they have Cain and Lincecum to deal with, so the free agent route is closed for the winter.
We’re talking utility guys and bullpen arms, if anything, in the next trade. That’s about it. This is what you get, folks. Good enough to contend in the NL West ? We’ll see.
The Giants have so far put together a team that won’t inspire the fan base, but they are banking heavily on the return of a healthy Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez, and knocking on wood that Aubrey Huff emerges from his championship hangover. Maybe the Giants will allow Brandon Belt to emerge from the dungeon like The Gimp from “Pulp Fiction” ( stolen by Brian Wilson’s Machine ), and actually see playing time in 2012.
Maybe Belt and Brett Pill can play enough to provide some badly-needed power. Maybe I’ll wake up in the morning and sport the flowing locks I had in 1987. All this is a lot to count on, but trades like the one for Angel Pagan show the Giants are doing a lot of wishing and hoping this offseason.