Jed Lowrie was sitting next to Brodie Van Wagenen on Wednesday answering a reporter’s question about being reunited with Chili Davis, which is a scene that would have been a rather random one to describe as recently as the middle of October — a perfectly viable page of Baseball Mad-Libs come to life. Yet Lowrie was wearing a Mets jersey, the backdrop was comprised of Met and Met-adjacent logos and it’s the middle of January. We know who these people are in our lives now. We will rely on them, among others with whom we were heretofore familiar but not intimately so, to heighten our hope and happiness as the year ahead of us unfolds.
Before returning to treating this essentially overnight transformation of individuals from ”yeah, I’ve heard of him, I guess” to “C’MON JED!” as a perfectly normal evolution, let us acknowledge its inherent weirdness. It’s weird that Van Wagenen is the point man for our dreams, not because he’s Brodie the ex-agent turned GM (which is specifically weird), but because he’s a person none of us ever gave five seconds of thought to until last July when he asserted the Mets better get on the ball where Jacob deGrom’s long-term contractual needs were concerned. And then we thought about him for five minutes.
I’d rarely thought about Davis over the past couple of decades, save for a couple of anecdotes from his playing career (“he ain’t God, man,” Chili memorably declared when asked why he was able to hit universally unhittable young Doc Gooden). He was a hitting coach? Yeah, I suppose I knew that. Now he’s our hitting coach. He used to be Jed Lowrie’s hitting coach? I can honestly say I didn’t know that.
Lowrie was a member in good standing of the Vague Brigade, one of those players I kind of knew played for some team that wasn’t the Mets and didn’t play the Mets very often. I might have even voted for him to start at shortstop on an All-Star ballot once when I needed to fill out the American League half with a shortstop who sure as hell wasn’t Jeter. To say I didn’t otherwise care about Jed Lowrie sounds crueler than I would intend, but I didn’t care about Jed Lowrie . Now I do, apparently .
Fine. That’s how we roll. We get a new, relatively accomplished infielder (position to be determined daily). We get a new, presumably qualified hitting coach, as teams will when they were judged not to have hit enough under the old one. We have this still new general manager who hires and acquires all kinds of slight acquaintances and total strangers in advance of making them our guys. Keon Broxton hit home runs off deGrom in consecutive series in the same month two years ago. Hector Santiago matched some zeroes with Matt Harvey the night Harvey and Bobby Parnell one-hit the White Sox across ten innings, which is now six years ago. Rajai Davis hit that home run for the Indians in the World Series. Gregor Blanco made that catch behind Matt Cain in his perfect game. All of the above are Mets now and, if things go well for them, will be Mets in 2019, perhaps longer.
Same goes for J.D. Davis, formerly of Houston, no relation to Chili as far as I know. I’d retained no recognition of J.D. Davis before we got him. Or Walker Lockett, who we got from Cleveland for Kevin Plawecki. Davis is a utility infielder type, Lockett a righthanded pitcher, should you be keeping score some day in the near future and wonder what it is they do and why it of import to you. I’d heard of Luis Avilan, though I couldn’t have told you from where (despite his having made his major league debut versus the Mets in 2012), but I’m willing to believe he’s a good candidate to throw lefthanded relief for us because that’s why he’s here, thus let’s be positive on Luis Avilan’s behalf.
It goes like this to some degree every winter. It goes like this to some degree every season. Last summer I was a little dumbstruck that a slice of my specific partisan attentions were now given over to Jeff McNeil, Austin Jackson and Bobby Wahl because basically the week before, McNeil was some name on the organizational depth chart; Jackson was an ex-Tiger I’d lost track as the Vague Brigade drilled in characteristic out of sight/out of mind fashion; and who the hell was Bobby Wahl? Now it is up to Brewers fans to ask that question in the present tense, given that Wahl is who we traded to Milwaukee to get Broxton, who, you might recall from a past paragraph, took the soon-to-be best pitcher in baseball deep twice, yet isn’t really considered much of a hitter. Maybe Chili Davis can work with him.
I got used to McNeil, who’s still a Met, albeit of undetermined application. I got used to Jackson, who is no longer a Met. I got used to Wahl before he went on the DL after seven Met appearances and into the Met past after the Broxton trade. And I’ll get used to Lowrie and the rest of this lot rather quickly as they blend with the players and coaches Van Wagenen previously hired and acquired and the crew of holdovers who haven’t been traded, released or bid adieu ceremoniously or routinely. Every year it’s a little weird. Then it isn’t.