NEW YORK, NY – The Mets always get it wrong. I know that there are those out there who believe that trading R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays was a prudent move by Sandy Alderson and company, but I could not disagree more. Yes, he’s 38 and coming off a career year. Yes, you would be signing him to two additional years with no guarantee that you’d get the Cy Young version of the man all of those years. And yes, of course, the Mets are in need of lots of pieces. I grant you all of that. But now, grant me this: R.A. Dickey was the best player on the New York Mets last year, by a lot, and now he’s gone
So, who is the current ace of the Mets pitching staff? If you answered Johan Santana you’re more than just an optimist, you’re an idiot too. The Johan that Omar “Brains” Minaya signed way back when doesn’t live here anymore. Sure, he tossed that crazy no-hitter last year but as the season wore on he wore out, until he finally got shut down. So then, is Jonathan Niese ready to step up and be #1? Probably not. The bottom line is, the Mets just traded away their ace. Even when the team hit the skids after the All-Star break, Dickey was Mr. Consistency, going out there every fifth day and mowing ’em down.
It wasn’t just that Dickey had become a terrific pitcher – he was a knuckleballer, so that also made him an entertaining player to watch. By season’s end, the Mets were actually going out of their way to advertise games in which he would be pitching. They knew he was a tremendous fan draw. They knew this! Yet they traded him anyway. They also knew he was an even-tempered and intelligent guy, something you can always use in the clubhouse, but still they dealt him.
Even in leaving town, Dickey was classy. Right after the deal with the Jays was complete he had this to say to Mets fans via twitter: “I want to say that I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am to you for the steadfast support. Thank you for making me feel wanted.” He was wanted, and appreciated, and now he’ll be wanted and appreciated by another team’s fans. Though this isn’t on the scale of Tom Seaver being traded to the Reds, I don’t think the Mets brass truly gave any consideration to how the fans connected with this guy.
Speaking of the front office, Sandy Alderson had this to say about the upcoming season: “We are certainly not punting on 2013.” I’m calling bullshit on that. What makes anyone think that the Mets can be any better next year when they just traded their best pitcher? Are the guys that they got from the Jays all gonna step in and start? You tell me. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud is the main blue chip prospect the Mets got in this deal. Last year he hit .333 with 16 homers and 52 rbi in Triple-A but then tore up his knee. Let’s hope he’s fully recovered and still can hit. Veteran catcher John Buck hit .192 last year in Miami. The bigs are full of veteran catchers that can’t hit their weight. Pitcher Noah Syndergaard (who is in Twitter hot water) and outfielder Wuilmer Becerra are unproven kids, though they immediately give the Mets another two strange names to go with their growing collection.
If the Mets are truly rebuilding, the question has to be, with what? It’s really difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel with this club. It’s been over a quarter century since the last World Series title. The team, as it is now, will finish no better than they did last year. So why should fans bother dropping money to go see games? If Dickey were still with the team, at least there would have been one reason. For now there’s no ace, no offense outside of David Wright, and no knuckleball excitement on tap for 2013. Now, ask yourself again…
Did the Mets get this right?