Claudio Vargas and Dan Johnson

Yesterday when I saw the post headline on MetsBlog that said “Mets Close to Vargas, Johnson DFA’d” I thought for sure that Jason Vargas was having a splendid comeback from surgery and that Ben Johnson was being released. That Heath Bell deal was starting to sting again.

But alas, it was CLAUDIO Vargas and DAN Johnson that Matt Cerrone was talking about. Most of you know my feelings about Dan Johnson — I like him a lot as a hitter for his strike zone judgment, patience at the plate, and ability to drive the ball. Unfortunately, my opinion hasn’t helped him hit more than .250 in the bigs. And as Matt lamented, if he were a righthanded hitter he’d be a perfect fit for the Mets. Ironically, Johnson hits lefties and righties almost identically (.247 vs lefties; .249 vs. righties). With singles-hitting Carlos Delgado starting out hot, I don’t see a place for Johnson right now. Too bad, I think he’ll be helpful to someone if given the opportunity.

As for Claudio Vargas, I’m completely indifferent. The Mets need an arm — any arm — so I’m glad they’re looking at Vargas. I don’t see him being a savior but also don’t see him as any worse than Brian Lawrence.

But, since I haven’t seen enough of him with my own two eyes, I called on Jeff Sackmann of BrewCrewBall for his opinion:

Vargas is what he is — a back-rotation innings eater, probably more or less what Steve Trachsel is at this point in his career. There’s nothing there waiting to be exploited, but the flip side of that is that I wouldn’t expect him to implode and give you a 7.00 ERA for two months a la Jeff Weaver.

The Brewers just have too much better-than-Vargas starting pitching–even with Vargas gone, we’ve got a tough decision in front of us with Yovani Gallardo coming back from the DL within the next week or two. I’m a little surprised that Claudio hasn’t found a home yet. Maybe he’s holding out for more than the minor league deal with an out clause that a handful of teams are probably offering him.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude April 10, 2008 at 9:56 am
    Here’s something I posted on April 2nd, shortly after Vargas was released. Looks like Jeff and I are pretty much on the same page…


    1. I wouldn’t feel safe giving Vargas anything more than a minor league contract, and who knows if he’s willing to except that;
    2. Though I think you’re right that Miller Park’s hitter-friendly dimensions helped contribute to Vargas’ lofty ERA in 2007, my qualm is with his WHIP. Only one season out of five under 1.41, which isn’t all that great. So not only is he surrendering too many hits, but he’s also walking too many. Over his career he’s walked a batter every 2.5 innings…or a little over 3 per 9 innings. His strikeout numbers are nice, but all this is a recipe for high pitch counts early in games, which means early exits and more work for the bullpen. Am I being too picky? Maybe, especially considering our current starting pitching depth (or lack thereof). I’ll give Vargas this: somehow, he’s won everywhere he’s been. He’s got a career record 5 games over five-hundred despite a career ERA of 4.95. To me, Vargas sounds too eerily similar to Steve Trachsel – who us Met fans have already had to endure too much of – so I think I’d still take a pass on him. But that’s just me, and I sure wouldn’t go jumping off any bridges if the Mets wind up giving him a look.


  2. Micalpalyn April 10, 2008 at 10:13 am
    The knock on Traxx (in my mind) is his inconsistency. But his death knell was his back injury.

    The thing that we ALL have to remind ourselves is that when healthy El Duque is a gem, and so is Petey but THEY ARE NOT healthy. In contrast While they are works in progress Pel, Ollie and Maine have been healthy.

    I’ll go with Dude on this and say that Vargas COULD add stability at the #5 slot similar to how Lohse did in Philly last yr, AND then El Duque’s days maybe numbered in shea, (ala his time in Arz). As now Pel can step down for Petey.

    Also if Vargas has cleared waivers he also can be sent down.

  3. sincekindergarten April 10, 2008 at 11:56 am
    Trax won his first start for the Orioles this year. ‘Course, that has zero bearing on how he will do his second start.

    I’m on board for Claudio. “Innings eater” comes to mind.

  4. joe April 10, 2008 at 5:10 pm
    can we PLEASE stop mentioning the real name of the Human Rain Delay? i realize he’s a former Metropolitan (ugh) but he couldn’t leave Flushing fast enough as far as I’m concerned ….
  5. Micalpalyn April 10, 2008 at 5:31 pm
  6. sincekindergarten April 10, 2008 at 6:10 pm
    Wow. I’m thinking that maybe the rumbles are coming from the owner’s suite, no?
  7. joe April 10, 2008 at 6:21 pm
    nah. i bet it’s just fodder for generating buzz and pageviews for sny
  8. tyedyemets April 11, 2008 at 12:30 am
    i never really had a problem with traxx. He was always a 4th to 5th starter who (i will agree) pitched painfully slow but was consistent, 6-7innings 3-4 runs. I’ll take from the bottom of the rotation all day. We should be able to win with that and our lineup
  9. […] …by the way, i did ask him about Claudio Vargas…he didn’t have much to say, however, Joe Janish from MetsToday asked him the very same question the other day…you can check out his answer by going here… […]
  10. Micalpalyn April 11, 2008 at 3:11 pm
    OK: I wonder if this is really much ado over very little. We are comparing him to the human rain delay, but we may find him a pleasant suprise who is more like a 7th inning stretch. Essentially he is auditioning to replace FA El duque who cant stay healthy.
    I think El duque is done. his awol late last yr, and the 2006 playoffs mean he cant be relied upon.

    We do need innings and not just from Santana.(and Heilman).