Angel Pagan might have been heaven sent over the past two seasons, but now he seems to have his head up in the clouds. According to today’s Daily News, Anthony McCarron reports that the outfielder still believes the Mets can compete with the Phillies for the NL East division title, despite the fact that the Mets have done very little to upgrade the team during the offseason, while the Phillies now have the Four Horsemen in their rotation with the December acquisition of Cliff Lee. Pagan goes on to say the following:
“If we have health, we can give them a fight. Everyone is counting on Philadelphia, but they have to do it. I got my money on my team, bro. I love challenges and that’s why I’m looking forward to it. I believe in surprises.”
We all know Angel Pagan is not going to say that the Mets’ goal for the 2011 season is to hold off the Washington Nationals for fourth place, especially now that Jayson Werth is there because he wants to win. But to say that the Mets can be part of the same stratosphere that the Phillies currently inhabit, although commendable for its optimistic perspective, is a little bit of a stretch.
Has Angel Pagan become aware of a top secret radical realignment plan by Bud Selig that would put the Mets in the NFC West for the 2011 season? If so, will Carlos Beltran be assessed a 15-yard penalty the next time he tries to take out Chase Utley at second base with a hard slide? Does R.A. Dickey have to trade in his Thesaurus for shoulder pads? Will Ruben Tejada be declared ineligible because he isn’t three years removed from his high school days?
I’m sure there’s a player on the Pirates who believes his team is going to win the NL Central, when the more realistic goal should be to just finish at .500. That’s something the Bucs haven’t done since 1992, when Barry Bonds* was a skinny MVP candidate who was feared on the bases and Bobby Bonilla still wasn’t collecting his Millionaire For Life winnings from the Mets.
For now, getting over .500 would be a good start for the Mets. If they go from 79-83 to 83-79, that would be a good stepping stone. The 2005 Mets improved to 83-79 after suffering through three consecutive losing seasons. The year after their rise above .500, they went to the postseason. The 2011 Mets can plant the seeds that will begin to bloom in 2012. Angel Pagan shouldn’t expect the moon this year. But he can be a part of the team that gets blasted off in 2011, with the potential to land in the playoffs in the coming years.
It’s one thing to expect great things for your team, but it’s another thing to say that the Mets are ready to compete with the team that finished with the best record in the National League in 2010, a team whose victory total has improved every year since 2006. The Phillies have their own version of the Fantastic Four (with Cole Hamels playing the role of the Invisible Woman), while the Mets have their Fantastic One (Johan Santana) out for a big chunk of the season.
Angel Pagan should just concentrate on being the best player he can be, giving 100% on the field, and not making 100% unreasonable predictions off the field. With Sandy Alderson having a definite plan on how to improve the team without doling out contracts that come back to bite him in the Bor-a$$, the competitive team Pagan wants will be there eventually. Just don’t expect it to be an overnight success.