Sunday, December 16, 2012

R.A. Dickey Goes From Cy Young To C-Ya

On June 1, 2012, Gary Cohen uttered the now-famous three-word sentence, "it has happened", after Johan Santana recorded the final out of the first no-hitter in Mets history.  Those words can now be repeated, although this time the sentiment is a little bit different.

After days of speculation and hours of hammering out names and details, Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey has been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.  It has happened.

R.A. Dickey will be taking his celebrity and his knuckleball north of the border in 2013.

Dickey will now be moving to the American League East, a division he has dominated since his renaissance with the Mets began in 2010.  Over the past three seasons, Dickey has gone 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 42 innings against his new division rivals.  He also has a sparkling 0.74 WHIP and 45 strikeouts against the Orioles, Rays and Yankees (he never faced the Red Sox as a member of the Mets).

In return, the Mets acquired Toronto's top offensive prospect in catcher Travis d'Arnaud.  The Mets also received Toronto's top pitching prospect (Noah Syndergaard) and a second catcher, veteran John Buck.  In addition to Dickey, the Blue Jays received the man who was behind the plate on the night "it has happened" happened.  Josh Thole, who has plenty of experience catching Dickey's knuckleball, is now a Blue Jay as well, after spending the last four seasons with the Mets.  Two other mid-level prospects were swapped as well, with one going to Toronto and one coming to New York.

Dickey's departure is reminiscent of Frank Viola, but in reverse.  Viola won the Cy Young Award in 1988 as a member of the Minnesota Twins, then was traded to New York the following season.  In his first full year as a Met (1990), Viola won 20 games.  Dickey did it in reverse, winning 20 games in his last full year as a Met.  Instead of being traded to the Mets after winning the Cy Young, Dickey was dealt away from the team following his award-winning campaign.

Since Travis d'Arnaud is coming off a knee injury that limited him to 67 games at AAA-Las Vegas in 2012 (his only games above the AA level), it wouldn't come as a surprise if he began the season at Las Vegas (which is now a Mets triple-A affiliate) in 2013, with John Buck becoming this decade's Rey Sanchez.  Sanchez began the 2003 season as the Mets' shortstop before Jose Reyes was called up in June to take over the position.  Similarly, Buck would be the stopgap at catcher until d'Arnaud was deemed ready for big league action behind the plate.

Noah Syndergaard (who, coupled with Kirk Nieuwenhuis, would represent the final two names in any 2013 Mets spelling bee) would likely begin the 2013 season at AA-Binghamton.  In three professional seasons, Syndergaard has never pitched above the single-A level.  However, in 45 appearances (35 starts), he has been dominant, pitching to the tune of a 2.35 ERA and 1.085 WHIP.  He has also held opposing batters to a .211 batting average while striking out 196 batters in 176 innings.

R.A. Dickey was a beloved figure in Mets history.  But a trade for two top prospects was too hard to pass up, especially when those players could become major contributors for the Mets long after Dickey has retired from baseball.

Cy Young Award or not, the Mets did the right thing to trade Dickey when his value was at its highest.  Dickey was part of the team's past and present.  Syndergaard and d'Arnaud are part of the team's future, a future that looks much brighter now.

It's okay to be sad today.  Because if these prospects pan out, there will be plenty of happiness at Citi Field in the near future.  And then there will be plenty more of the good "it has happened" moments that we can all celebrate together.

No comments: