With four games to go it appears that the Mets starting outfield is done for the season. Jason Bay is struggling with a sinuous infection and both Duda/Pagan are experiencing residual headaches but haven't been diagnosed with concussions.
Angel Pagan had a very disappointing season in terms of expectations, this was suppose to be the season in which he took over center field and not just served as the fill-in for Carlos Beltran. In 2010 Pagan played in 151 games while hitting .290 and playing solid defense. He seemed to have erased all those concerns over mental errors which plagued him in Chicago and the injury concerns which hindered his first two years back in NY.
But instead of expanding upon what appeared to be his breakout season, he has regressed and it now appears that 2010 was the aberration. Pagan hit a mere .262 which when averaged with his .290 from the year before makes him a .275 hitter ( which coincides with his career average). Now a .275 switch hitting center fielder with speed isn't such a bad thing but Pagan hasn't just struggled at the plate. He has once again had mental lapses where he's taken bad routes to balls or pulled up when it appeared that he could/should have made the catch. At times Pagan has appeared to be playing it safe and/or conservative which is the opposite of what got his nickname "Crazy Horse".
What's been more profound then his offense or mishaps catching the ball is his throwing, he has been absolutely atrocious throwing the ball in every aspect of the game. From inaccurate throws, short throws, missing the cut off man, throwing to the wrong base, and hesitating to the point where the runner advances. He's been so bad throwing the ball that you almost wonder if he's hiding a shoulder injury, while that would give him a pass for his throwing issues it would bring back the injury concerns.
In my opinion at 29 y/o Pagan is what he is and will cost between 3-5M through arby. I think he has too many holes to pay that much and is more of a platoon partner or 4th outfielder then a full time starter. The more he plays he becomes an average hitter, who doesn't use his speed as effectively as he could on the bases and is possibly an injury risk. More importantly I'm concerned with his mental lapses, at times it appears that the game is moving too fast for him but for a team trying to change a losing/lackadaisical culture these fly balls where he's pulled up when it seemed like a dive would have made an out is disheartening. I would non-tender Pagan you can find this type of performance from a multitude of players on minor league invites while taking a look at several center fielders in-house.
In Bay's case were stuck with him, unless we trade for another equally bad contract in the hopes that a change of scenery will help both players. Bay and A.J. Burnett are owed almost identical money and have struggled equally as much with their current teams, these are the only type of deals you could make for him. At least Bay has been a solid corner outfielder, who makes good plays and has a good mentality for the clubhouse. Also in the second half his bat has shown signs of life hitting .313 in Sept. and maybe the changes to Citi will help his power numbers, which will hopefully get him to stop the constant tinkering he's been doing to his approach at the plate. There were rumors that earlier this season he was having trouble with his peripheral vision post concussion, Bay's not one to use excuses so we'll never know but his pitch recognition seems much better. Next season I'd put Duda behind Bay in the line-up, give Bay the protection of a home run threat and hope pitcher's are more aggressive to Bay allowing him to get his bat going early ( Bay#3, Duda#4, Wright#5).
Lucas Duda has given himself a shot for next season, I'm reluctant to consider these one dimensional guys legitimate power threats until we get a bigger sample pool. It seems like every few years a Butch Huskey comes along but don't get me wrong I'm intrigued by Duda and want to see more. If I'm tepid about his offense then I'm outright concerned about his defense for a full season in right field. There was a report that the outfield maybe less strenuous for Ike Davis' injured ankle, if thats the case I'd much rather see them flip Davis to RF and Duda to 1B. Davis was drafted out of college as a legitimate corner outfield prospect, it was the Mets who decided to make him exclusively a 1B. I would think 1B would be easier on the ankle but there was at least one reference that indicated just the opposite. If Duda is our starting RF then your going to need a late inning defensive replacement, which also means you will be pulling your biggest power threat out of the line-up regularly late in games...