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...