SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In a perfect world, where money was no issue, perhaps the Giants would have signed Jose Reyes to be their leadoff hitter.
But money is an issue, and the Giants are saving as much of it as they can to pay Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and the rest of their pitchers.
So Angel Pagan, who cost about $100 million less than Reyes after the Giants acquired him in a trade with the Mets, is the new leadoff man.
He's not Reyes, but he did learn from him. And he won't need to be Reyes to be a lot better than what the Giants had atop the order in 2010.
As much as the Giants' offense suffered from the loss of Buster Posey, another huge problem last year was that their leadoff men combined for a .292 on-base percentage. Only the Orioles and Nationals were worse.
Pagan has a .341 on-base percentage in 154 career games leading off for the Cubs and Mets.
"To me, Jose's one of the best leadoff hitters in the game," Pagan said Monday. "I've played with good leadoff hitters, Jose and Juan Pierre. I know what it's all about. My job is to set the table for the big boys, Pablo [Sandoval] and Buster."
But Pagan knows from playing with Reyes that a top leadoff man does more than just set the table. He knows how much the leadoff man can influence the game.
"When you have an energetic person at the top, you have that spark," Pagan said. "You want to bring that type of energy. [Reyes] injected that energy in the lineup.
"Hopefully, I can be that. I'm ready to help this team."
In the first couple of Cactus League games, manager Bruce Bochy has paired Pagan and Melky Cabrera (also acquired in a winter trade) atop the lineup. It's not clear whether they'll both stay there once Freddy Sanchez is healthy, but the plan has been for Pagan to lead off.
Bochy knows that getting the leadoff man on base is crucial if the Giants are to score more runs. They scored just 570 last year, a dropoff of 127 from the championship team of 2010.
"I think it played a critical part in our lack of run production," Bochy said. "We know we'll be more consistent with Angel and Melky.
"Plus, it's hard to imagine we won't do better with runners in scoring position."
The Giants figure they'll get the best effort possible out of Pagan and Cabrera, both of whom are entering their free-agent years.