The San Francisco Giants have lost center fielder, Angel Pagan, for 10-12 weeks after having surgery on his injured hamstring. Pagan’s injury was sustained the same game he hit a walf-off inside-the-park home run on May, 26.
After hitting the disabled list, Pagan re-injured his hamstring in his first minor league rehab start, last Thursday.
At the time of his injury, Pagan was hitting .262/.314/.374 with ten doubles for the defending champs. The year before, Pagan had a breakout year, leading the league with 15 triples.
San Francisco rewarded the 31 year old outfielder, with a four-year, $45 million contract. The nearly season-ending surgery once again raises questions.
Clearly, nobody saw a big-time injury happening this season, but Pagan’s past should raise eyebrows for such a hefty contract.
First, let’s look back at his injury history: 2006: Misses two-and-a-half months from injury as a rookie with the Chicago Cubs. 2007: Season cut short due to colitis, traded to the New York Mets. 2008: Hurt his left shoulder May 7, falling into the stands. Hurt again doing a rehab stint and underwent season-ending surgery on July 29. 2009: Placed on the 15-Day DL with a right groin strain. 2010: NO INJURIES! 2011: Placed on the DL on April 21, with a rib injury. 2012: NO INJURIES! Gets a huge contract.
So, this was not Pagan’s first injury or potential season-ending injury. A bigger red flag is Pagan’s career numbers.
Pagan has only played over 100 games in three seasons. He has only played over 150 in 2010 and 2012. In 2010, he wasn’t even the Opening Day starting center fielder, when the Mets favored Gary Matthews Jr.
He has also only hit over .300 once. In 2009, he hit .306 while only playing 88 games with the Mets.
As the anchor in the outfield, Pagan has not been reliable in center either. In 2011, he led all major league center fielders with 10 errors and had the lowest fielding percentage, at .968. This season, Pagan has only played 46 games, while already committing four errors and having a .961 fielding percentage.
Why sign an outfielder to an $11.25 million annual contract that will turn 32 this season, has not been an every day starter at the professional level, plays a below average center field and only hit .188 in the postseason last year?
The Giants overpaid for Pagan and it’s already hurting them. He would have been a fine free agent signing if he signed for a year or two, but not for four at that amount.
Gregor Blanco will get more time at the leadoff spot and has been a pleasant surprise thus far. The outfielder, who is usually known for his defense, has hit .302 in 67 games. Rookie, Juan Perez, has been a spark plug in the outfield too, and has hit .300 in 11 games played.
The Giants will miss Pagan, but have viable options to replace him. Blanco and Perez have been solid options, with the mystery of Gary Brown still in our minds.
Brown, the Giants first-round pick in 2010 out of Cal State Fullerton, had a huge 2011 season, making him the Giants center fielder of the future. He had a down 2012 and a slow start to this season.
During the month of June, Brown has hit .298 with eight doubles and seven home runs. He is only hitting .241 for the year, but has hit 10 home runs and stolen 10 bases, with the AAA Fresno Grizzlies. Brown has power and speed and plays a great center field.
Even with two down seasons, Brown is the future in center for the Giants. Brian Sabean should highly consider getting Brown’s feet wet at the pros if Blanco and company slip in the future.
Oddly enough, offense is not the Giants biggest problem of the season, with the rotation as the weak spot for once.