For the inaugural edition of MSU I consider the Jays' twin needs of Lead-off hitter and Right fielder (or at least, someone to platoon in RF with Bautista). The reason I say these are twin needs is because the realistic candidates for every other spot in the line-up are all players who have one thing in common - they sure as hell AIN'T lead-off hitters.
Jose Bautista is the guy The Manager has designated and that's fine - if the opposition is kind enough to send a lefty to the hill. But what about the other 3/4 of the games the Jays will play in 2010?
After all, Bautista is the owner of a less-than-rhobust slash line of.202/.331/.333/.664 vs. RHP in 2009, and that was no fluke. His career OPS vs RHP is .681 and nothing would suggest a full time opportunity would help that.
Now, there are free agent options, if you want an older guy who may be in decline. I've probably mentioned here before that Ryan Church is probably the most obvious play, although you could go with Randy Winn who'd probably be slightly cheaper or gamble on Rick Ankiel having a bounce back year (as an aside, I saw one suggestion on MLBTR that Ankiel may be as cheap as $3 million for one year by now and if so, that's a nice price for a gamble on a guy who is only one year removed from a .843 OPS).
But if Ankiel is too pricey and Winn is too old and Church signs elsewhere, what's a GM to do? It is this question which forms the basis of the post you are now reading.
I propose the following:
Brian Tallet for Angel Pagan.
Why it works for the Jays -
The switch hitting Pagan gets on base at a reasonable clip, especially vs. RHP (.350 career, .356 in 2009 vs. RHP) and has the kind of speed you like at the top of the order (14 steals in 21 attempts in 2009, plus an astonishing 11 triples in only 88 games played). Certainly 2009 might have been a career year - in particular the triples were probably an outlier - but as a cheap(first year of arbitration) controllable (he'd be a free agent after 2012) outfielder who can shore up RF and competently lead off in 2010 and be a useful fourth outfielder should the Jays land another young outfield stud along the way, it would be hard to find a significantly better fit.
If you took their 2009 numbers and but he and Bautista into a strict RF platoon, you'd get a slash line of .308/.369/.504/.873 which is wonderful but admittedly too high because of those triples. So let me adjust, no over-adjust it by making all those triples into doubles and the slugging percentage drops to .475 which still leaves a nice shiny .844 OPS.
And, to re-state a key point - Pagan is a guy who, like Bautista, blocks no prospect. So if you go out later in the winter and snag - just to pull a name out of the air - Michael Saunders, then Pagan becomes a very good bench player.
Why it works for the Mets:
Tallet has been a solid reliever who's better than a LOOGY and had a run of impressive starts in 2009 to boot, and that in the AL East. He can only do better in the NL and his versatility would be highly valuable to a team like the Mets with a rotation in flux. Depending on who they yet sign this winter, the Mets are looking at Santana and four question marks in 2010. All the candidates except Oliver Perez young and unpredictable, and Perez the very definition of a wild card. Having a LHP who can both provide you solid everyday work in the pen AND serve as a guy who can step into the rotation for an extended period if the planned rotation goes south has to have more value to the Mets than a 4th outfielder (on their team).
Don't think Tallet works here? You could go David Purcey and make it work, or even Brad Mills. Or if the Mets are thinking further ahead than 2010, Luis Perez or Robert Bell.
Do I hear any objections?