Had you told me last year that I would be celebrating the Mets signing of a 35-year-old starting pitcher with a career 4.16 ERA, a virtually even career win-loss record, and a strikeout average of only 6 per 9 innings, I would have had a hard time believing you. For some reason though, the Mets signing of Jason Vargas has me energized, even excited, just a week before the spring training games start. Let’s see if I can figure out why…
Jason Vargas’ career statistics are not especially glamorous. He’s never been considered a Cy Young award candidate. In fact, last year, his 12th major league season, was the first time he ever made the All-Star team; and the second half of his 2017 was atrocious. Additionally, his career WHIP, FIP, BABIP, FLIP, and TRIP, are all pretty mediocre. To be honest, I only understand what a couple of those mean. To be more honest, I think I made a few of those up. To be most honest, none of this really matters at the moment.
Of course, the Mets would be ecstatic if Vargas pitched like he did in April-June of 2017, but that’s not why they signed him. The acquisition of Jason Vargas adds some experience and durability to a starting rotation that hasn’t been able to stay on the field together in 2 years. Heading into the 2016 season, Mets fans were hoping for at least 15 wins each from Matt Harvey/Jacob deGrom/Noah Syndergaard/Steven Matz, and a few from Zack Wheeler. Heading into the 2017 season, Mets fans were hoping for at least 10 wins from each of those guys. Just a few weeks ago, fans were begging for at least a couple consecutive turns through the rotation with each of them starting a game. Vargas may not be as big, nor his name as sexy, as Bartolo “Big Sexy” Colon, but he seems to be as reliable. Side note, I would gladly put the 100 pounds that Colon has on me if I was guaranteed it came along with a nickname like that, but I doubt it would play out that way.
The signing of Jason Vargas means that the Mets now have the promise of stability in their rotation. It’s less likely that they’ll have to dig deep into their depleted minor leagues to find multiple starters throughout this season. Not impossible, just less likely. Additionally, he’s a lefty, and not an especially hard-throwing one at that. He gives a different look to the rotation. I don’t know how much of a difference this makes, but it sounds good so I’ll go with it. You can do things like that in spring training.
Most of all, the Jason Vargas acquisition rounds out a Mets offseason in which they may not have brought in any automatic game-changers, but they also seem to have a put together a better team without making any outlandish deals that could have risked paralyzing the team for years to come.
I wish that the Mets roster on paper (or screen nowadays, really) was as pretty as that of the Cubs, Dodgers, or even the Nationals. It’s not. It wasn’t especially attractive prior to the Vargas signing, and it still isn’t now. But there is enough there to inspire the hope and belief that the Mets players and fans always speak of when they’re winning. There’s enough there to enable me to watch with both eyes open, and not through my fingers like I used to watch horror movies as a kid (yeah, that’s it, “used to”). And there’s enough there to enable me to write this next sentence with a straight face…Let’s see if there’s enough there to take this team to the postseason.