Analysis: Why The Pagan Trade Makes Sense

Pagan is the leadoff hitter SF was missing.

Andres Torres is a class act, and was a great Giant. The dream of 2010 would not have happened -- no chance -- were it not for Torres, the catalyst at the top of the order. We wish him the best in New York, and will remember him fondly. But Torres was a shadow of himself in 2011.

The Giants' offensive struggles last year are well known and well documented. But, rather than a big bat, what that team was really missing was an igniter. In short, what that team was missing in 2011 was the Andres Torres of 2010.

Angel Pagan gives us that.

Pagan gives the Giants a legitimate leadoff hitter. He's what Torres was in 2010 offensively, except he's been doing it consistently for years. Over his six-year career, Pagan averages .279/.331/.418 with 10 homers, 30 doubles and eight triples. The 30-year-old -- three years younger than Torres, incidentally -- also averages 45 free passes and 28 stolen bases.

In addition, putting Pagan at the top allows the Giants to drop newly-acquired Melky Cabrera down in the order -- a move that breaks up the run of left-handed hitters the lineup would have been stuck with. We were looking at:

1. Cabrera CF
2. Sanchez 2B
3. Sandoval 3B
4. Posey C
5. Huff LF
6. Belt 1B
7. Schierholtz RF
8. Crawford SS

Those four lefties at the bottom are a matchup dream for opposing managers. Now we're looking at:

1. Pagan CF
2. Sanchez 2B
3. Sandoval 3B
4. Posey C
5. Huff LF
6. Cabrera RF
7. Belt 1B (hopefully)
8. Crawford SS

That's much better matchup-wise, much more difficult for opposing managers.

Oh, yeah: It's also probably a lot more likely to score runs.

That team is also solid defensively. Cabrera is an excellent defender and has all the tools to play right field at AT&T. Pagan is a solid defender as well. He did make 10 errors in 2011, but that was a bit of an anomaly. He had only made 9 errors in the five seasons prior.

In addition, the offensive improvement makes it a lot easier to justify Crawford at shortstop, regardless of what offense he may or may not bring. Having Brandon's phenomenal glove out there every day clearly strengthens the Giants defense.

Ramon Ramirez was also no slouch. The 30-year-old right-hander appeared in 66 games for the Giants in 2011, posting an ERA of 2.62. Ramirez recorded 66 punch outs while allowing just 26 free passes in 68.2 innings of work.

The Giants shouldn't have a problem absorbing the loss, however. The pipeline is strong in terms of relievers. With the likes of Dan Runzler, Steve Edlefsen, Stephen Harrold and Heath Hembree, the Giants' bullpen looks to be in pretty good shape for the foreseeable future.

BOTTOM LINE

Overall, it's a good deal for the Giants. Overall, the Giants are a better ball club today than they were yesterday. This move gives the Giants a legitimate chance to contend for the NL West title in 2012.

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