Jed Lowrie has yet to take the field for the New York Mets this spring. Is he this year’s Jason Vargas?
It’s easy to pick on New York Mets pitcher Jason Vargas. His abysmal 2018 season turned just about everyone who has ever worn the colors blue and orange against him. He’s the kid who wears the same outdated t-shirt every day, unfashionable shoes, and shorts in the winter. Vargas is such an easy target, I sometimes feel bad for feeling so bad about him.
Unfortunately, after the grief he gave us in 2018, I’m concerned about who the next Vargas will be. It’s still early in spring, and like a mad man, I’m connecting the dots and seeing how much he has in common with infielder Jed Lowrie.
This pair of recent free agent signings have a little too much in common for my comfort. Both are ex-Brodie Van Wagenen clients and graduates of universities in California. These connections hardly create concern. It’s the on-field perform that causes Twilight Zone music to play in my head.
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Vargas is a year older than Lowrie which means each joined the Mets after their age 34 season. In that season before signing with New York, each was an All-Star for the first time in his career. While there’s a good case to say Lowrie had the much better year, there’s one major concern: health.
Lowrie hasn’t been an ironman throughout his career and a reason for it is because he hasn’t always been a starter. Routinely, since debuting in 2008, Lowrie has been a part-time player. He has started 100+ games four times in his career, settling for about a half a season or far less in the other years. He has never played 100+ games in more than two consecutive seasons with his most recent years occurring in 2017 and 2018.
Vargas’ injury history left him for only 9 starts in 2015 and just 3 in 2016. He came back healthy for an 18-win season in 2017 which many can attribute to luck. I’m not so sure Lowrie had near the same amount of good fortune in his 2018 campaign, but it’s the Spring Training ailments each suffered shortly after joining the Mets in Florida that I am most worried about.
In 2018, Vargas began the season on the then referred to as the disabled list. With Lowrie possibly set to take a spot on the re-named injured list to begin his Mets career, I’m worried history is repeating itself.
Any injury that occurs before the first Spring Training game and may keep a player out through Opening Day is trouble. There’s no timetable for Lowrie’s return. This could be a combination of things.
The Mets likely learned to tame expectations on return dates. When you miss, even with an earlier-than-expected return, it doesn’t look good.
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So, we’re left wondering when Lowrie will finally take the field with the Mets and see some action in games. Our minds have time to stew over this signing and wonder if he’s the position-player version of Vargas.