Once people got over the surprise that he didn't wind up with the Yankees and spent a little time marvelling about the depth of Philly's rotation, they usually took just one moment to fire a shot in the direction of the Mets. It was usually something along the lines of trying again in three or four years married to a shake of the head about the dire state of affairs for New York's National League outfit.
Not everyone is conceding the race to the Phillies, however. There's one man who believes that the Mets are better than everyone thinks they are and believes that Citi Field will be rocking come October for reasons having nothing to do with planes making their way into LaGuardia. That man's name is Angel Pagan.
"If we have health, we can give them a fight," Pagan said. "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."
For the sake of Angel's children (to say nothing of his Hall of Fame chances), let's hope that he doesn't actually have any of his money on the team. He'd be smarter to invest in a brick and mortar book store that has a sideline of printing daily newspapers geared toward auto workers in Michigan.
We're having fun there, obviously, because you can't really knock Pagan for feeling like there's actually a reason for him to get out of bed in the morning. And stranger things have happened than a team looking like the Mets winding up in contention. No one thought the Padres would be a winning team in 2010 and it seems like every year has a team or two that hang around with no advance billing.
Those teams are always reliant on a lot of breaks going their way. Pagan mentions health, which is obviously a big one, but they'll also need rebound seasons from Jason Bay (bad before he was injured), Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. They need Ike Davis, Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese to take big steps forward while R.A. Dickey doesn't return to Earth after his sparkling year. They'll need Terry Collins to manage them out of fewer games than Jerry Manuel and they'll need Sandy Alderson to address needs in a more productive way than Omar Manuel.
That's a ton of things to go right in order to make Pagan sound prescient. Of all those things, the only ones you can feel legitimately confident about are the last two and, quite frankly, that doesn't add up to all that many wins in the course of the season.
At least someone believes in the Mets, though. Should they shock the world, we wouldn't be surprised to see a lot more people come around to the second coming of Paganism.