Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 17, 2012
BASEBALL: The RA Dickey Deal

Honestly, I have trouble dealing rationally with the Mets trading RA Dickey on the heels of his (well-deserved) Cy Young season. Like letting Jose Reyes go, this is simply something you don't do if you intend to field a competitive team long term in a major market like New York. Sure, Dickey's 38, but he's a knuckleballer; he's as good a bet as David Wright to be a productive contributor to the team in 2015 or 2016. He is also, for very valid reasons, enormously popular and fun to watch, and his salary demands were very reasonable. The Mets' shabby treatment of Dickey reinforces the view that this is a second-rate organization.

If you accept the premise that the Mets had no choice to trade Dickey, then sure, they seem to be getting a decent return - catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, and dealing Josh Thole for John Buck (which seems a slight downgrade but Buck has his uses and Thole had a terrible year; his value to the Jays is knowing how to catch Dickey). But far from certain to be equal value. Syndergaard is a 20 year old pitching prospect who's never pitched above A ball; with 53 walks and 196 Ks in his pro career in Rookie and A ball compared to 54 walks and 230 K for Dickey last year in the NL, Syndergaard is at the bottom of a very tall mountain, the top of which is the kind of pitcher Dickey is now. He's not rated a better prospect than Mike Pelfrey was, and Pelfrey just signed with the Twins after an enormously disappointing career in blue and orange. As for d'Arnaud, he has no speed and no plate discipline (41 walks per 600 minor league plate appearances), and had a .418 career minor league slugging average entering 2011. He's hit a lot better since then, but Citi Field is not Las Vegas in the PCL. Also, d'Arnaud played only 67 games this season due to torn knee ligaments; the Mets seem unworried, which is reassuring if you have a lot of faith in the Mets crack medical staff.

Maybe both prospects work out, but the Mets are courting the KC Royals cycle here, where it doesn't even matter how good the prospects are because nobody believes anymore that the team is going to spend the money to field a contender when they're ready. And unlike the Royals, they can't blame this on playing in a small market.

Dickey's season, along with Johan Santana's no-hitter, made the 2012 Mets watchable through everything that went wrong. This deal represents a rejection of fielding a watchable team in 2013, and suggests a long-term approach that gives less rather than more cause for optimism.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:54 AM | Baseball 2012-14 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Couldn't agree more, Dan. The Mets traded a very good bird in the hand, for a couple of scrawny birds in the bush.

Wes, I think we can all agree that trading an asset when its value is high makes sense. But why do the Mets think Dickey has peaked? He's only getting better, despite his age, which is typical of a knuckleballer.

The Mets' trade of the knuckleballer make them seem like knuckleheads.

RW Bennett - author of the new baseball novel, Suicide Squeeze:

Posted by: RW Bennett at December 17, 2012 12:14 PM

I hear you, and if Dickey was even 34 years old, I'd agree with you. But he's 38. Even the most optimistic Mets fan, given the Wilpon's continued financial difficulties, doesn't see legitimate contention until at least 2015, when Dickey will be 40.

I acknowledge the crap shoot that is trading for younger players. But at least these are legitimate top flight prospects who have a chance to be every day contributors when the team is ready to win.

Posted by: Ferraro41 at December 17, 2012 12:22 PM

With the ridiculous money flying around baseball right now Dickey is getting, what, #3 starter money? The Sox just signed okay but perhaps due for a re-adjustment Ryan Dempster for similar cash. Dickey is likely to be quite solid for awhile given the history of knucklers. A 2 years deal for less than what mid-tier guys are getting is crazy. This looks and smells terrible for the Mets. It stinks of a franchise in freefall. How many true assets do the Mets actually have and they let a primary one go for chump change in the grand scheme of things. I'd be pissed if I were a Mets' fan.

Posted by: jim at December 17, 2012 2:49 PM

I don't mean to gloat too much, but my Pirates right now are looking much better than the Mets!

I understand the rationale for the Dickey deal but it is quite the blow to the fans who now must live thru 3-5 years of rebuilding. Sorry!

Posted by: Lee at December 19, 2012 12:42 PM

Edwin Jackson just got 4 years-$52 million. He's a 70-71/4.40 career guy who was a .500 guy with a 4.03 ERA last year. And the Mets wouldn't gp over $10 million for the Cy Young winner? You're in for some tough times Mets fans!

Posted by: jim at December 20, 2012 11:11 AM
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