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The Silent Pain of Polytheism
by Derek Smart
This was a minor thing that went down late yesterday, but I almost missed it. The Cubs purchased the contract of an outfielder from the Mets' system named Angel Pagan, and added him to the 40-man roster. Not begin much of a prospect guy, I turned to my handy-dandy 2005 version of John Sickels' Prospect Book for some insight.
Pagan is a switch-hitter with good speed. He doesn't have much power, and his on-base abilities are inconsistent. His walk rate is mediocre, leaving his OBP highly dependent on his batting average. I think he projects as a reserve outfielder.
A quick look at his stat lines confirms that assessment, and the fact mentioned in the Cubs.com piece linked above, that he managed to commit nine errors while playing all three outfield positions last season, implies that he's not much use defensively, either (I know, errors are misleading, but nine miscues in one season is a lot for an outfielder).
In other words, beyond any snickers that can be had from the implication that the Cubs have gotten so desperate that they've finally turned to Paganism to eradicate their curse, there's little to be interested in here, and far more to question.
Why use your last available roster spot on a player like this? Why use this roster spot this way when there's a decent chance you'll want to add Cleanliver Goodbody by the end of the spring? Why fill your 40-man at the end of January when you have a pitcher you've just signed to a deal that guarantees them a spot on said roster by Opening Day?
To be honest, I'm not sure what this move implies, or why it was made. I suppose it could be a favor to the Mets, but since there's only cash involved it seems like a small favor at best. The Cubs aren't in tremendous need of outfield depth, so that doesn't fly with me, either.
What's very clear is that certainly one, and probably two, players will need to depart the club's roster by the time the season opens, and while it was likely going to happen anyway, I'd guess that this addition only increases the internal pressure to trade Todd Walker, and now, to do it for non-roster minor leaguers, or in a package deal with other denizens of the 40-man for fewer roster players in return.
Perhaps I'm missing something (alright, it's a near certainty), but I'm really scratching my head here. I'd like to think that there's a solid reason and a good idea here, but hell if I can find it. Help me out, folks. What's going on?