December 17th, 2012
Well it looks like it's finally going down. The trade of R.A. Dickey to Toronto has its supporting cast, and has its extension. Now all it needs is its physical, and our Cy Young award winner is leaving us to go to maple leafier pastures. It's only a matter of time.
I have talked on this blog about maximizing value. The Mets haven't been so good at it in the past. The Scott Kazmir trade was the most glaring example. Kazmir had the value of a number one prospect and didn't trade him for a 38-year-old Cy Young award winner. Not even close. Angel Pagan could have gotten dealt for a better haul after 2010 than he did after 2011. This one, they got right. Think about this: the Mets took an Omar Minaya scrap heap signing and turned him into two of the top prospects in all of baseball. Did anybody expect this when they first signed Dickey? Raise your hand if you did. Okay good, now go see a psychologist for your pathological lying.
You take the information presented to you, and you do the best you can with the knowledge and the resources (or lack of) that you have for the good of the club that you're entrusted with. The Mets had to be overwhelmed to deal R.A. Dickey. I'd say the top catching prospect in baseball and a guy who supposedly, according to Twitter, has good command of three pitches and flirts with 99 on the gun? I'd say that's pretty overwhelming. No, prospects don't always work out. Travis d'Arnaud could turn out to be a repeat of the last time the Mets traded a 20 game winner to the Blue Jays and turn into Travis d'Kent. Noah Syndergaard, for all we know, could retire to pursue a vaudeville career. Conversely, Dickey could turn into Doc Graham once he crosses the Canadian border. Josh Thole could be forced to retire because of a severe poutine allergy. We all could get hit by trucks tomorrow. Is anything a sure thing?
Very few things on this earth can be distilled into pure black and white. Most everything on this earth these days get shoved into one of those columns. I like the return that Dickey brought. I agree with the principle of the thinking. Am I happy that R.A. Dickey is gone? Hell no. I hated that Mets ownership has run this team into the ground so much that a team in the number one market in baseball has to make moves like this? Absolutely. I've said before that the Madoff scandal might very well be a blessing in disguise for this franchise, forcing them to make prudent moves like this to set the franchise up with a more solid foundation for when it is finally ready to spend money again and become an organization that doesn't have to be purely a producer of minor league talent for the rest of the league to poach, nor an acquirer of high priced talent that nobody will want to poach. Hopefully one day this team can produce talent and acquire it too. Black and white. Not black or white.
It doesn't make it any easier for me to see the first Mets 20 game winner since Frank Viola take his talents to South Ontario. Seems cold and calculating to let Dickey go once he's reached the top of the mountain. And even though I advocate this trade and understand the reasoning behind it, it doesn't mean I wanted it to come to this. Think of what Dickey has done here in New York between his long and arduous journey, finding himself at the age of 35, and doing it in New York where a lesser man would have wilted for good, even after all of that. I have a friend who has been going to games for years as a fan and as a vendor. And he recently told me that being at Dickey's 20th win was the best game he's ever been to. What does that tell you? You think it's tough to win 20 games for a bad team? Try becoming an all-time fan favorite while pitching for a bad team. That's even harder. Yet Dickey has cemented his place among the greatest love affairs that Mets fans have ever had with individual players. Not an easy thing. And now it's over ... and even though the break up needed to happen for the fruition of long-term goals, it doesn't make it any easier to say good-bye.
It wasn't easy to say good-bye to Jose Reyes for many of the same reasons. And yet there's an interesting parallel between those players now that is almost as obvious as the fact that they will be reunited in Toronto ... both vilified on their way out the door. Reyes more by fans, whether it be because of a bunt, his final post-game interview, or the fact that he was driven by dollars (none of which I'll ever understand). Dickey is being vilified, however slightly, by the media. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote a column the other day which, while not calling Dickey an out-and-out piece of garbage, does tell us that there is more to Dickey than what we know about him. He has an "unwieldy personality". He "can be a handful." He has an issue coexisting peacefully in a workplace, apparently. As Mets fans have had a love affair with Dickey, one could understand the outrage when one attacks their partner in this affair.
There's the matter of the timing of the article, and here's where I have an issue: If R.A. Dickey really had problems coexisting peacefully in the workplace because he happened to tell a story about former Met and current Twin Mike Pelfrey in his book as Davidoff explained in a further column in which he was less vague than the first (and I give Davidoff credit for expounding a bit on the first column), then I would think that neither Davidoff or anybody else covering that team would have put it in their back pocket until just before he got traded. In New York? The Post??? You think anybody over there, or any New York tabloid would pass up an opportunity to create controversy in the middle of baseball season? (Just ask Paul Lo Duca.) To wait until December? Nope. Doesn't make much sense to me. And that's why I can't help but think that all of this "information" is coming to light now. And if it's coming to light now, would it be possible to believe that it's coming from a source that's inside the organization, yet not necessarily in the clubhouse?
Those dots are easy to connect. Yet I don't want to connect too many dots and conclude that the Mets ultimately traded Dickey because he had an "unwieldy personality". (Hell, people probably think the same things about me sometimes.) Or that he was traded because of comments at a holiday party. (If I was a Met, I'd stay clear away from appearing at any future holiday parties. Those things are death to Mets careers ... just ask Kris Benson.) Dickey was traded because there was a market for starting pitching and Sandy Alderson took full advantage of it ... as he should. And I at least appreciate that this team, at the very least, has moved in some sort of direction instead of spinning their wheels as usual. This makes you think whether the article was even necessary. Using a news conference at a holiday party to bring all this up about unwieldy personalities and coexisting in the workplace and implying that a trade all of a sudden became imminent because of it? It's like when the media reports on something like Martin Brodeur having an affair with his sister-in-law. It's scintillating. But does it have context towards his career or what he does on the ice? What context did Dickey's coexisting in the workplace have on this trade? It's almost as if it was brought up for the sake of being brought up. This is why the dots are easy to connect. I don't think the Wilpons or their ilk wanted to necessarily roast then trade Dickey because of his comments, but it does seem like this was another attempt to make Met fans feel better about losing Dickey. And yes, I do think it came from some sort of suit in the organization. For an ownership group so conscious about image, is this really a hard theory to fathom?
But this is the thing that neither the Wilpons, nor even some writers really grasp about Met fans: we get it. We understand what trading Dickey means. We understand the reasons ... just as we understood the reasons why Alderson wouldn't go anywhere near the dollars that the Marlins gave to Reyes. We understood that these were sound business decisions. What we also understand is that these are sound business decisions made necessary by the rampant mishandling of funds by the people with so-called business backgrounds who are supposed to know better. But they obviously didn't. So for now, and hopefully for not too much longer, trading 20-game winners for prospects is where we are as a Met fan species.
If I can say something to make anybody who is upset over this feel better it's this: the steps are ordered. With as much as Dickey's done for the Mets, and the good publicity he's given them (and anybody in the Mets organization worried about an "unwieldy personality" should remember that), maybe his time in New York is truly up. What more can he do? He has spread his story here. He has won his games. Perhaps the next step is to captivate an entire country. Imagine if ... long shot as it may be ... Dickey follows up his N.L. Cy Young award with an A.L. Cy Young award? Or if you don't want to go that far fetched, how about Dickey pitching in a World Series game? With what the Blue Jays have done to improve, it's certainly in the realm. When a Canadian team reaches the Stanley Cup Finals, not only does is that city behind them, but large patches of the entire country roots for them, with the pride of an entire country at stake (save for the Flames fans that can't root for the Oilers, or vice versa.) Imagine, with one baseball team north of the border, how much support Dickey and the Jays would have in the World Series. An entire country would be behind them. And perhaps that's the step that is ordered for Dickey. A World Series isn't going to happen here, not while Dickey is still good. For him to be somewhere with a shot at a ring with the adulation of an entire country behind him is something he deserves. (Not to mention the opportunity to stomp on the Yankees with some of those ordered steps on the way there.)
Needless to say I'm in his corner, unwielding personality or not. It had to happen this way for him, and for us. Dickey was great for the Mets, and I'd say that most of us, even those who like the trade, would go to war with and for a guy like Dickey 10 times out of 10, and wish he was still here. But Dickey is like that sweet piece of red velvet cake that we might love, but since we need a more balanced diet, he had to be replaced in the fridge with vegetables. Hopefully Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard are those cherry tomatoes which will grow up to be large tomatoes to be sliced up and put into a BLT. And who doesn't love BLT's?