The Mets and Their Dickey Conundrum

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The New York Mets are a team in flux.  Since the signing of Jason Bay and the Madoff Scandal, the Mets have done very little spending and have been selling off or letting go of their expensive pieces.  Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, and others have left and suddenly the Mets sit at an interesting point: Do they start building now, or do they wait a bit longer before making their move.

This “will they or won’t they” is an important factor right now as the future of R.A. Dickey depends on the answer.
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The signs of re-signing are there.  The Mets have shed many salaries over the last few years and are on the verge of Johan Santana’s mega-deal expiring.  Unlike with another homegrown star in Jose Reyes, the Metropolitans just broke the bank and gave the richest contract in their history to David Wright in the form of an 8-year,  $138 million extension.

To most this would signal a philosophy change from cutting payroll to becoming a contender again, but the Mets also have to look and see how much work is still needed to get there.

They have the rotation setting up.  Santana is still here and is followed by Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Matt Harvey and some combination of Collin McHugh, Jeremy Hefner, Jenrry Mejia and any mid-level free agents they may pick up this off-season.  Looming in the minors is the former top-pitching farm hand for the Giants, Zack Wheeler, who should join the team sometime in 2013.

Their infield is probably set for now with Wright, Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, and Ike Davis around the diamond.  Wright is the superstar, the middle of the infield has some potential for improvement, and Davis turned around his horrible 2012 start to continue his steady improvement at first.

Other than that, they are still a mess.

Josh Thole has yet to take the catcher position as his own.  The bullpen is currently anchored by the fishing weight closer that is Frank Francisco.  Their outfield is an atrocity without a single average player at any of the three positions.

It will take more than one year of build to get the Mets back to contention in the NL East.  Does it make sense for the Mets to re-sign a 38-year-old starter to a contract that will take him until he is in his forties?

There are a lot of reasons to bring back Dickey.

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First, and probably foremost for the Mets, is his incredible popularity around baseball and especially with Mets fans themselves.  His story has resonated with MLB fans and his success late in his career, with such a unique signature pitch, makes him a special player.  Dickey also helps sell tickets, which the Wilpons and any smart owner would regret losing.

Second, knuckleball pitchers can pitch late into their careers as it does not tax the arm as much.  Even if with a faster knuckler and fastball than most knuckleballers throw, Dickey should keep with this trend considering his recent non-existent injury history.  Since coming to the Mets, he has been incredibly consistent (’10-12’s ERAs are 2.84, 3.28, 2.73)  and thus should not fall off too far in the immediate future.

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Finally, and what shouldn’t be taken for granted in the least, he is the reigning NL Cy Young winner.  The Mets are not a franchise flooded with a history of success, but R.A. Dickey has brought a major award over to Flushing, Queens.  He is one of the few to ever win 20 games as a Met.  Letting such a pure good positive presence go for any reason is a strong deterrent from trading him.

Of course, we must bring it back to the Mets and where they are.  Does it benefit the Mets to keep a 38-year-old pitcher for a few more years, even if they are good years, if they may not be ready to contend for a championship until the end of the contract?

Dickey is at his highest value now and could be worth a fortune on the market.  Just today on WFAN-660 in New York, Evan Roberts was hypothesizing that the Mets could hold out for some great prospects.  He brought up a desperate Texas Rangers team, the former club of Dickey, who now lost out on an ace in Zack Greinke, who went to the Dodgers.  Is the possibility of getting two of baseball’s biggest prospects, Mike Olt and Leonys Martin, a strong enough push for the Mets to deal Dickey?

Olt would be sent to one of the outfield corners and Martin would be the starting center fielder and lead-off batter.  If they both work out, the Mets could have two starting outfielders for the next ten years.

As an outsider that still was inspired and loved the R.A. Dickey story this year, its hard for me to see the Mets trading him.  He means too much.  If they can get a package like the Texas one, which may be a dream, I think they have to do it.  Everyone has to have a cost and if the limit is surpassed, they should trade him like anyone else.  I am just not sure any interested team will do so.

Another year of Robert Allan Dickey in 2013, I think so, Mets fans.

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