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R.A. Dickey

Instant Trade Analysis: R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays get: SP R.A. Dickey, C Josh Thole

New York Mets get: C Travis d’Arnaud, SP Noah Snydergaard, C John Buck

Timing is everything, and in R.A. Dickey’s case, timing apparently wasn’t worth two years and $25 million dollars.

The 38 year-old knuckerballing 2012 NL Cy Young winner was shipped to the Toronto Blue Jays for two of the team’s best prospects, including one of the most elite in all of baseball’s minor leagues.

Dickey’s story is one of the best in baseball, in which he missed two of the last twelve seasons not from injury, but because he wasn’t good enough to make a team. He reinvented himself as a knuckleball pitcher in the middle of the last decade after several seasons in Texas. As a Ranger, Dickey established himself as one of the game’s worst every day pitchers, throwing up a 5.72 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and just 5.8 strikeouts per nine innings, amongst many other ghastly stats. In short, he was absolutely terrible and was actually fortunate to stick around int he Majors as long as he did.

However, after two seasons in Seattle and Minnesota honing his craft (to the tune of a 4.99 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and 5.1 strikeouts per nine innings–about as on par with his Texas numbers as he could get), Dickey was a scrap heap signing with the Mets in 2010. He immediately became a bright spot amongst an otherwise forgetful NYM season, throwing together a stunning 2.84 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 26 starts and 174 innings. Since then, Dickey has been simply amazing, doling out two seasons of 32 and 33 starts, with 2012 being his masterpiece: 2.73 ERA, 20 wins, 1.05 WHIP, 230 strikeouts (!) to only 54 walks and a NL Cy Young Award. The blessing and the curse of the knuckleball is that because it’s thrown without rotation, it’s hard to predict where it’s going to land. Luckily for Dickey, he’s been able to understand the art of the ball’s static nature and put it into places where he’s able to accurately deceive the hitter.

The problem is that he did all of this at age 35. Going into 2013, Dickey will be 38 years old for a Mets team that’s, from all projections, is a couple years away from contending. The future of the franchise is built squarely around two young prospects, Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler. Harvey already made it to the Majors this year, posting a devastating 2.73 ERA, 70 strikeouts, 29 walks in just 59 innings. Wheeler, who came from the San Francisco Giants last year in the Carlos Beltran deal, is the organization’s second best prospect (or perhaps best, depending on who you talk to), and could be up in the Majors late this year or early in 2014. With Dillon Gee and Jonathan Niese, the Mets 2014-2016 rotation looks just about set, just as long as these youngsters can stop themselves from becoming the next Rick Ankiels. Dickey, at his age, was simply too far out of the Mets’ forecast for playoff contention to pay him a contract that essentially would have placed him with the Ryan Dempsters of the world. Ryan Dempster, last I checked, finished the season with an ERA over 5.00. R.A. Dickey won the Cy Young Award.

There’s a couple flaws in the Mets’ logic here, most of which sits with nature of knuckleballers. For the most part, throwing the pitch takes stress of the pitcher’s elbow and shoulder, allowing guys like Tim Wakefield to pitch effectively into his mid-forties and for a guy like Dickey with a missing ligment in his throwing elbow to win the Cy Young at age 37. In the words of MAMBINO contributor Pucklius, R.A. could be pitchin… Read more...

Who Starts the All-Star Game for the National League? Dickey or Cain?

I’m not surprised that the sporting world is having an argument over who should start the MLB All-Star game for the National League. Every year can’t have an automatic answer like a dominant Roy Halladay or a war horse-like half season from Justin Verlander. I’m not even surprised that Matt Cain is a part of the conversation, considering his video game statistics and the accompanying hype provided by the perfect game he threw just weeks ago.

What I am surprised about is that the opposing part of the argument for NL All-Star starter is…R.A. Dickey.

Yes, Mambinities. R.A. Dickey, who spent his 2002 and 2007 seasons out of baseball because he wasn’t good enough to make any team, is a probable All-Star. R.A. Dickey, who in 2006 as a 31 year-old, transitioned to a full-time knuckle-ball pitcher, is not only a probable All-Star, but considering starting material. R.A. Dickey, who at age 37 is having his most dominant season ever, is a potential All-Star starter and Cy Young candidate. Yes folks, that R.A. Dickey.

Unbelievably, just three years after finishing the season with Minnesota with a 5.21 ERA and walking nearly as many batters as he struck out, R.A. Dickey is favored by many, including our own Pucklius, as the presumptive National League All-Star Starter.

However, he’s not without his detractors. An e-mail debate began to stir today with the assertion that yes, the Mets ace was more deserving of throwing the NL’s first pitch than Cain.

At first thought, this is simply ludicrous. How could Dickey be more qualified than the guy who threw a perfect game? Let’s look at the tale of the tape:

R.A. Dickey: 15 starts (13 quality starts, 3 complete games), 11-1, 106 Ks, 72 Hits, 24 Walks, 2.31 ERA, 0.91 WHIP

Matt Cain: 15 starts (11 QS, 2 CG), 9-2, 107 Ks, 74 Hits, 22 Walks, 2.27 ERA, 0.90 WHIP
Well, that wasn’ helpful. Their statistics are stunningly similar in nearly every way, except for the obvious win-loss record (which is itself a pretty superfluous statistic). Both have their pros and cons, and with each of them having approximately three starts left until July 17th, there’s a lot left to be decided. So let’s turn to the experts. 
But obviously they were busy, so we here at MAMBINO HQ decided to tackle the issue. I’ll be taking the side of Cain, which shakes my Dodger Blue bones to their marrow, and Pucklius will be trumpeting his very own Dickey from Queens. Let’s see if either of us can swing each other.
KOBEsh: The numbers between the two really aren’t helping to create any separation between these two guys. Out of all the arguments, which are you looking at as the strongest in Dickey’s favor?

Pucklius: You’re right in that it’s hard to go wrong, but I think you’ve got to look at his quality starts and complete games in addition to the sheer dominance he displayed over the six or so starts prior to Sunday’s game against the Yankees. The rest of the stat line between the two is almost completely identical, but Dickey leads both in quality starts and complete games, which perhaps more than anything might be a sign of consistently putting your team in position to win games. Granted, the differences in those categories are slight — perhaps even negligible — but I do think those combined with his ERA and WHIP are crucial. Cain’s numbers are also stellar, but the flukiness of a perfect game — and yes, while they are tremendous accomplishments they are flukes — dramatically impacts his ERA and WHIP … Read more...

State of the Mets: Unexpected Hope is Amazin’

(I’m posting for Pucklius, because Blogger sucks.)

At the beginning of the 2012 Major League Baseball I wrote on this here blog a forecast of the New York Mets with such doom and gloom it might have sent the most optimistic fans running for the hills. In short I said that the real pain of watching this team was not how good or bad they would play this year but that the bleak financial outlook left a fan without any hope at all for this season or the next. I’m not going to say I was wrong, because the financial situation of the team, cloudy as it is, still leaves a great deal of concern for the future. I should also say that while I thought this would be a year in which the team went nowhere and made few strides toward being a consistent postseason contender, I didn’t think it would really be that bad.

Of course, I didn’t think it would be good either.

I thought that like every season there would be the occasional moments of joy and excitement, the rare comeback win or the fun rookie hot streak by the latest incarnation of Timo Perez in which a callup drums up excitement until the rest of the Majors had scouted him to death and adjusted for him. But I didn’t expect or count on a few things. I didn’t count on the Mets sweeping the Braves to open the season and get off on the right foot, I didn’t count on Johan Santana smoothly coming back from major shoulder surgery, I didn’t count on David Wright coming back to life and I didn’t count on a suddenly pleasant and happy locker room that made its impact on the field because the 25 guys on the roster all genuinely like each other.

And I certainly did not count on Robert Allen Dickey suddenly becoming the most dominant pitcher on the planet. Dear God, I did not count on that.

All of this is good news for any Mets fan and shockingly it has given us all a reason to hope and a reason to believe, but before we all start high-fiving raucously and sending in our deposits for playoff tickets, I think it would be sane on everyone’s part to dial down the optimism for a bit and take a look at a few things. The Mets are six games over .500, which is good, but it’s not great either. Their run differential is an unimpressive +3 and was negative for nearly the entire season until this week. They’ve scored fewer runs than Milwaukee, Colorado and Toronto, and they’ve given up more than Pittsburgh, Oakland and Kansas City. First baseman Ike Davis, who is expected to be one of the few dependable cogs in the New York Mets machine for this season and the future is teetering uncomfortably around the Mendoza line, rarely cracking a .200 average and staying below .300 with his on-base percentage — though his power numbers are decent and he has been hitting far better of late. But perhaps most concerning is the fact that the Mets have been a maddeningly inconsistent squad all season. Before a sweep Baltimore at home this week (the franchise’s first time beating the O’s in three straight at home since the 1969 World Series), the Mets were swept by the Reds after impressively beating up the Tampa Bay Rays on the road in a sweep after being swept by the Yankees after dropping two of three to the Nationals after taking three of four from the defending-champion Cardinals… well, you get the point. The Mets have their share of impressive showings so far this season against top-tier competition, but they’ve also been swept by the Houston Astros, an outfit that would probably lose to some better AAA teams.

So in the end, all of this adds up to, well, no one really knows. T… Read more...