Results tagged ‘ Angel Pagan ’

Analysis: Beltran to right field

Credit Carlos Beltran this: he made what appears to be the right decision for the Mets.

Beltran announced Monday that he will move to right field for the upcoming season, paving the way for Angel Pagan to start in center. According to metrics, it’s the smart move — in a little more than half a season in center field last year, Pagan ranked fourth in the Majors with an 11.8 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 defensive games, according to the web site, which measures a player’s overall defensive contributions. And that’s no aberration — he holds a combined 12.4 UZR/150 at all three outfield positions for his career. Even in Beltran’s best defensive season, 2008, he posted a 12.2 UZR/150. Considering he is one surgery and three years removed from that season, it’s reasonable to think he might never reach that level again — while Pagan, in his age-29 season, could potentially improve. (Disclaimer: defensive stats at times can be murky, but do give a general idea of a player’s worth.)

For all Pagan’s offensive improvements last season, his bat also plays better in center. The Mets insisted that whatever they decided this season would be final, meaning if Beltran started in center field and suffered an injury, Pagan would remain in right. But Pagan’s bat and skill set are a better match for center, meaning that if Beltran does get injured, the Mets can safely plug in someone with more power and less range — a Nick Evans type, for example — in right.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Previewing Mets position battles

Every Major League team has a few position battles in Spring Training, and the Mets are no exception. We’ll have plenty more on these over the next few weeks on, but for now, a quick look at what to watch for come spring:

beltranslidingfielding.jpg1. CENTER FIELD
The contenders: Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan
The edge: Beltran

For the first time in 13 seasons, Beltran will walk into camp without a firm grip on the starting center field job. Missing the majority of last season with right knee issues, Beltran watched as his countryman stepped in and established himself as a legitimate everyday center fielder. Upon Beltran’s return, Pagan shifted to right — but there was no doubt that he remained the better player both at the plate and in the field.

Another offseason of rehabilitation should have Beltran and his knee in better shape come spring. But at 33 years old, can he still be an elite defensive center fielder? The Mets may be better served putting Pagan in center, considering the impressive quickness and glovework he displayed last season. But Beltran’s value would be higher at his natural position, so if the Mets really do intend to trade him before his seven-year contract expires after the season, they may give Beltran the outfield edge.

All that’s clear right now is that whoever loses this battle will start in right field. And whoever wins will be entrenched in center regardless of injuries, slumps and overall results.

The contenders: Luis Castillo, Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy
The edge: Emaus

For the sake of this exercise, we’ll ignore Justin Turner, Luis Hernandez and Chin-lung Hu, all of whom are effectively competing for bench spots. The real battle here is between Murphy, who has spent much of the last year attempting to prove his defensive prowess at second base, and Emaus, a Rule 5 pick from the Blue Jays. Emaus’ Rule 5 status gives him an early edge in this battle because if he does not make the team, the Mets would need to offer him back to the Jays for $25,000. In addition, Emaus would provide a right-handed bat at the bottom of a lineup that already includes lefties Ike Davis and Josh Thole. And his presence at second would allow the Mets to keep Murphy stashed on the bench, where he could serve as a sort of super-sub at first base, second, third and left field.

That’s a pretty significant edge for Murphy to overcome. But the Mets remain hopeful regarding Murphy’s offensive ceiling. If he outperforms Emaus with the bat in Spring Training, the job could (and should) be his.

As for Castillo, there’s really only one scenario in which he makes the team: he rakes in Spring Training while the other two falter. Otherwise, the Mets know, they’d be better served to cut him and the $6 million remaining on his contract.

The contenders: Taylor Tankersley, Taylor Buchholz, Ryota Igarashi, Pedro Beato, Manny Acosta, Pat Misch, Oliver Perez
The edge: Tankersley, Buchholz, Beato, Acosta

Of what appears to be a total of seven spots in the bullpen, only Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell and D.J. Carrasco will head into camp with guaranteed roles. Tankersley, the strongest lefty candidate, is on a non-guaranteed Minor League deal but should make the team. Buchholz, barring a poor spring performance, should as well.

That leaves two spots for Beato, Acosta, Igarashi, Misch and Perez — and it’s truly impossible to handicap this battle without seeing them perform on spring. On paper, Beato has an edge due to his Rule 5 status. Igarashi is owed $1.75 million this season, providing the Mets with some incentive to give him innings. But he has also cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Buffalo, meaning the Mets won’t risk losing him if he doesn’t make the team.

The Mets like — but don’t love — Acosta as a middle-innings guy, so they’re pleased he missed the arbitration cutoff by a relatively slim margin. But that won’t guarantee him a job — he’ll have to earn it. Misch will make the team only if manager Terry Collins deems it necessary to keep a long man. And Perez? Not likely.

It’s possible also that a Minor Leaguer could surprise in Spring Training and make the team. But right now, with a little less than a month to go before pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie, Beato and Acosta appear to be the early favorites to round out the bullpen.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Beltran decision should (and will) wait until spring

Don’t expect a resolution anytime soon regarding Carlos Beltran and a potential move to right field. Though Angel Pagan proved to be a significantly better fielder last season than the 33-year-old Beltran, the Mets owe it to their three-time Gold Glover — and to themselves — to make the center field job an open competition this spring.

beltranfielding.jpgSo that’s what they intend to do.

New general manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday in Orlando that he doesn’t anticipate making any rash decisions regarding Beltran, whom he met last weekend at a charity event in Puerto Rico. The two spoke, but not about center field. There is a time and a place for that. November in Puerto Rico was not it.

“The purpose of my trip to Puerto Rico was not to accomplish a position change,” Alderson said. “My goal was simply to meet Carlos and several other players, which I was able to do — Angel Pagan was there, Jose Reyes — and establish a relationship. It was a great event. I met everyone, had a chance to talk to Carlos — not at length, because I didn’t want to get in the way of what was clearly an important event for him. But I was pleased with the fact that I was able to be there and was able to make contact and shake hands.”

Despite Beltran’s struggles in the field last season — he had a -3.4 Ultimate Zone Rating according to, compared to 15.1 for Pagan — he remains one of the premier center fielders of his generation. The Mets owe it to themselves to see if his knee, now supposedly 100-percent healthy, will allow him to rediscover his old excellence.

They can do that this spring in Port St. Lucie, Fla. They can’t do it now, in a conference room in Orlando.

“I think that’s really the only fair thing,” Alderson said. It’s not necessarily that that subject is only broached after spring training begins, but I think it’s only fair to think about that and deal with it in the context of real information as opposed to opinion. So we’ll see.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Ike Davis misses out on Gold Glove

Despite a tremendous defensive rookie season that saw him pace National League first basemen in several advanced fielding metrics, Mets rookie Ike Davis lost out on the Gold Glove award to two-time winner Albert Pujols of the Cardinals.

iketumbling.jpgThe Mets did not have a Gold Glove winner for the second consecutive season.

According to the web site, Davis, 23, led all NL first basemen in UZR, an advanced statistic designed to measure the number of runs a player saves on defense. Among all big league first baseman, he trailed only Daric Barton of the Athletics, who also fell short of a Gold Glove.

Unlike the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie and Manager of the Year awards, which are voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Gold Glove awards are voted on by players and managers.

Davis also finished second in the Majors behind Barton in plus-minus rating and runs saved, two statistics developed by noted sabermatrician Bill James. In James’ admittedly subjective Dewan Fielding Bible awards, Davis finished third behind Barton and Pujols.

The Mets had only one other legitimate candidate for a Gold Glove award: outfielder Angel Pagan, who lost out to Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies, Michael Bourn of the Astros and Shane Victorino of the Phillies. Pagan finished fifth in the Fielding Bible awards among outfielders, and fourth among NL outfielders in UZR.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Grading the first half for the Mets

Time to grade some key Mets on their first-half performances. Without further ado:

Johan Santana: B
What a strange season for Santana, who alternated dominating stretches with periods of pure mediocrity. The overall results have been fine, though hardly ace-like. Safe to say the Mets are expecting more from Santana in the second half, with last winter’s surgery now squarely in his rear-view mirror.

reportcard.jpgMike Pelfrey: A-
Ignore the past few rocky starts for a minute. If I told you before the season that Pelfrey would go 10-4 with a 3.58 ERA in the first half, I think you would have taken that. Truth is, without Pelfrey, the Mets might not be close to postseason contention.

Jon Niese: A-
Injury aside, Niese has been brilliant at times, and as consistent as any of the five Mets starters. Like Pelfrey, he has given the Mets more than they ever could have expected in Spring Training.

R.A. Dickey: A+
When the Mets signed Dickey, he was nothing more than aging organizational depth. Now he is a legitimate starting pitcher, a cog in the rotation and a key reason why the team is still in this thing. Dickey deserves as much credit as anyone.

Hisanori Takahashi: B+
Like every other starter not named Santana, Takahashi has given the Mets more than they ever dreamed. His few bad starts have handcuffed them, yes, but between his early-season bullpen appearances and his role in the rotation, Takahashi has been stellar.

Jose Reyes: B
Yes, the fact that Reyes made the All-Star team was remarkable considering all he had gone through in the preceding year and a half. But Reyes was useless to the Mets for the first month of the season, and he has done nothing to shed his injury-prone image. Got to dock him some points for that.

Angel Pagan: A
Leading the army of overachievers was Pagan, a player who has finally begun to fulfill his potential. The Mets hardly missed Carlos Beltran this season in large part because of Pagan, who played stellar offense and defense in his absence.

David Wright: A-
Just like that, he’s back to being an All-Star. The Mets have to be pleased with that, considering the miserable season Wright endured last year.

Ike Davis: B
He’s gotten more credit than perhaps he’s deserved, considering his pedestrian offensive numbers. But Davis has played a solid first base while giving the Mets a measure of offensive pop from the position. That’s something worthwhile.

Jason Bay: C
The Mets’ one big free agent acquisition has been something of a bust. Bay is not hitting for power, and that’s the one thing he’s supposed to do well. Now down to sixth in the lineup, Bay must bust out for the Mets to succeed.

Rod Barajas: B
After a hot start, Barajas has cooled off plenty. But he did carry the Met offense for much of the early season, and he deserves some credit for the success of the pitching staff.

Jeff Francoeur: C
Other than his rocket right arm, Francoeur has contributed little to the Mets this season. Now, with Beltran back, he’s going to lose significant playing time because of it.

Luis Castillo: D
After justifying a portion of his contract with a strong year last season, Castillo has reverted back to an old, broken-down second baseman. He’s on the DL now, and there’s no telling how much he’ll be able to help when he returns.

Bench: C-
Gary Matthews, Jr., Frank Catalanotto and Fernando Tatis were all massively ineffective during their time with the team. Chris Carter helped for a while but has since faded. The Mets have yet to find a pinch-hitter who can give them consistently good at-bats. The one player here who deserves mention is Henry Blanco, who has worked well with the pitching staff while providing better-than-expected offense when he plays.

Bullpen: C
Francisco Rodriguez has walked a tight rope all season but ultimately has gotten the job done — and quite well, if you consider his numbers. Pedro Feliciano was overexposed against right-handed hitters, but has been just as effective as ever against lefties. Other than those two, the Mets have found no consistent answers in the back end of their bullpen. It’s the most conspicuous weakness for the team heading into the second half.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets beisbol, Puerto Rican style

Despite the tremendous popularity of baseball in this US territory, only 21 Puerto Rican natives opened this season on big league rosters. The Mets employed three of them — Angel Pagan, Pedro Feliciano and Alex Cora — and recently added another in Jesus Feliciano, who may soon lose his roster spot to countryman Carlos Beltran. So it is of course fitting that the Mets — statistically the most diverse team in Major League Baseball history — are participants in the San Juan Series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

hiram_bithorn2.jpgPagan and Jesus Feliciano both live within a stone’s throw of San Juan, and both expected to have plenty of family and friends in the stands for all three games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Cora, who grew up further down the road in Caguas, said he would pay for any of his family and close friends who wanted to attend the games. This is a big deal for the native Mets, and it’s a big deal for Puerto Rico.

Even those Mets who played here before in the World Baseball Classic were struck by the gravity of wearing Mets threads in their capital city.

“I can’t imagine wearing a big league uniform,” Jesus Feliciano said last week, “and playing in front of your friends, your family and your country.”

Now, he no longer has to.

—–Follow along on Twitter @anthonydicomo.

A more radical lineup suggestion

Mets manager Jerry Manuel shook up his lineup Saturday, shifting Jose Reyes back to  leadoff and plugging Angel Pagan into the third spot. Maybe that will give the Mets a jolt, but I just don’t see it.

I’m from the school that you want to have your best hitters bat most often. And as well as Pagan is playing right now, he just does not qualify as one of the Mets’ best hitters. Which is why I’d prefer to see him lower down the lineup, with the more productive hitters clumped up top.

Here is the lineup I would try. Note that the Mets’ three leaders in on-base percentage (Wright, Davis and Bay, in that order) are all in the top half of this configuration:

1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. David Wright, 3B
3. Ike Davis, 1B
4. Jason Bay, LF
5. Rod Barajas, C
6. Angel Pagan, CF
7. Jeff Francoeur, RF
8. Luis Castillo, 2B

If you want to let Chris Carter start over Francoeur for a couple days, I won’t argue. If you want to keep Castillo in the two hole and push everyone else down a spot, I won’t fight you there, either. And if Francoeur ever starts swinging the bat well, he could shift as high as five in this configuration, making it more ideal.

It’s a little radical, and maybe it wouldn’t work. But I’m not just sure how much Manuel’s minor shakeup is going to change things.

Now playing left field: Jon Niese

With zero position players remaining on the Mets bench, David Wright was ejected in the ninth inning Sunday for arguing balls and strikes.

Asked what his plans were had the Mets forced a 10th inning, manager Jerry Manuel said simply: “I don’t know.”

But he did know. After Wright’s ejection, Manuel told Jonathon Niese — who last played the outfield in high school — to grab a glove and prepare to play left field.

“So I was getting ready,” Niese said.

More of a mystery was which outfielder was going to play third base. Though Manuel did not instruct any of his outfielders to prepare, the rumblings on the bench were that Jason Bay — a former college third baseman — would have shifted over to the position.

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Bay said. “I might have needed to borrow a glove. And a cup.”

But he might have had competition for the position. Angel Pagan, who regularly played shortstop as a teenager, said he was considering offering up his services at third base.

“I can still do it a little bit,” Pagan said. “If they put me in there, I would have tried to do the best I could. I’d knock the balls down with my chest or something.”

Hot dog wrappers in the Windy Citi

By the time Henry Blanco ended things Saturday with a walk-off homer, Citi Field was covered with garbage. Hot dog wrappers, soda cups, french fry boats — you name it. Winds gusting up to 45 miles per hour blew every sort of concession onto the field.

At one point, David Wright had to call timeout to pick up a souvenir cup and toss it off the field.

“I don’t know what was going on,” center fielder Angel Pagan said. “I didn’t know if the fans were throwing garbage or what.”

They weren’t. (At least most of them weren’t.) And the wind itself was not too much of a problem for the outfielders.

But the garbage was downright distracting.

“It looked bad — and it was, don’t get me wrong — but I don’t know if it was Candlestick-esque,” left fielder Jason Bay said. “It was windy, but the ball wasn’t doing crazy things. It was more of the dirt kicking up in your face, hot dog wrappers, boxes, cups, everything.”