You Don't Deserve R.A. Dickey, You American League Ingrates

Stephen Dunn

If I read one more snarky comment from some other team's fan, decrying the logic of trading some over-ager in Double-A for "one-year wonder" "38-year-old knuckleballer" R.A. Dickey, I will throw this Guillermo Mota commemorative Mets-50th-Anniversary-Legends-Series bobblehead through my monitor.

I would suggest you not read the comments on any one of the many articles speculating that R.A. Dickey might get traded to American League team X for its muscliest hitting prospect. For instance, don't read the comments on the article Grant Brisbee wrote about Mike Olt and Dickey.

All season, dumbstruck national sportswriters, entranced by the mighty "W," filed the same awful, purposefully naive column about the knuckleballer pitcher with the broken arm who made good. And while those fawning idiots arrived to the party a cool two years late, apparently the rest of the country is even further behind. If I read one more snarky comment from some other team's fan, decrying the logic of trading some over-ager in Double-A for "one-year wonder" "38-year-old knuckleballer" R.A. Dickey, I will throw this Guillermo Mota commemorative Mets-50th-Anniversary-Legends-Series bobblehead through my monitor.

"You know who's NOT missing his UCL? My favorite crappy prospect, who hit .100 in 150 MLB plate appearances last season. Yea he's already 27 and his 'birth certificate' is in Comic Sans, but Baseball America said he had the best arm in the entire Western Missouri Rookie League (WMRL). R.A. Dickey's really old and he only throws 60 MPH and [unintelligible farting noises]."

Listen, I understand the logic of trading Dickey. Until cyborg Bernie Madoff is released from prison in 2302 or Johan Santana's contract expires (I forget which is scheduled to happen first), the Mets need to trade some certainty for some superstar potential. A possible star bat in the outfield makes sense, especially for an OG Moneyballer like Sandy Alderson, who's already shown a willingness to field a lineup with four first basemen in the National League.

Maybe Dickey's at his peak value. But if Alderson's looking for a star player with genuine superstar upside, who, for a very cosmetic reason, is systematically undervalued by the rest of the league, maybe trading R.A. Dickey isn't the best idea. Maybe it's counterintuitive!

Besides, how low would Dickey have to sign before his extension actually raises his value in the $/WAR paradigm? $12 million per year? $13?

Jon Niese seems like the perfect candidate for this type of trade. He's young and good, but his ceiling is such that he'll probably never be as good as Dickey is now. He's also signed to one of those contracts that make small market GMs salivate. He's safe and solid in every way. And for injury reasons alone, you always trade the young pitcher for the young hitter. (As an aside, I'd probably be more okay with trading Dickey if they also traded Niese. Nothing says gutsy rebuilding on the fly like punting your pitching staff for a year to stockpile a killer outfield for the future)

The underlying subtext to all these debates seems to be that niggling mistrust of older players that R.A. Dickey will probably never shake. Having exposed myself to PECOTA at an inappropriately young age, I feel it, too. But if there's any player I'm going to put my faith in, it's Dickey. And given Niese's durability issues and Dickey's freaky arm, the difference in their projected 5-year survival rate is probably closer than we'd be inclined to think.

In my nightmares, the Mets trade R.A. Dickey and the recipient fans bitch and moan errantly about aging curves until the day Dickey wins Game 7 of the World Series.

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