The 2012 season has been an exciting year in baseball. The Tigers’ slugger Miguel Cabrera is going for the elusive Triple Crown; the Angles’ multi-talented outfielder Mike Trout will win Rookie of the Year thanks to his speed, power and great defense; the surprising Baltimore Orioles are giving the New York Yankees all they can handle in the American League East, and Derek Jeter continues to add to his Hall of Fame resume.
Furthermore, three perfect games, seven no-hitters and other feel-good stories around the league have made 2012 a year to remember. Yet, has there been a more intriguing development this season than that of knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s emergence, at the age of 38, as a leading candidate for the NL Cy Young Award for the lackluster New York Mets?
Dickey is the feel-good story of the year. Drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1996, it was discovered that he was missing the ulnar collateral ligaments of his elbow joint. After a mediocre start to his pitching career, he eventually became a knuckleball pitcher. Dickey bounced around the minor leagues of various franchises for over a decade, trying to perfect the pitch.
Then, in early January 2010, the New York Mets signed him to a minor league contract. After pitching well for the Buffalo Bisons, the Mets’ Triple-A team, he was soon called up by the club in mid-May. Dickey became a consistent starter in his first two seasons with the Mets, showing an uncanny ability to freeze hitters, mixing his unique pitch (and two variations of it) with a surprising 86 mph fastball.
This year, however, Dickey has gone from a consistent starter to a pitching ace, and he will very likely be the first knuckleball pitcher to ever to win the Cy Young with his 20 wins. Not only that, Dickey has become an inspiration both in the clubhouse and off the field as a kind of philosophical sage thanks in part to his autobiography which came out early in 2012.
On the surface it seems obvious that the Mets should talk with Dickey after the year is over about an extension to his current contract witch expires after 2013 season. But should the New York Mets really consider extending Dickey despite his excellent year?
Even though he shows unusual consistency for a knuckleballer, he is in his late thirties and won’t likely repeat the performance in coming years. That’s why the New York Mets, who are in a rebuilding mode, ought to trade Dickey and get some top prospects, specifically outfield prospects, since the organization is bereft in that area.
With the Mets losing $23 million in revenue this year, and the organization focused on extending the contract of third baseman David Wright, the Mets need to make a calculated decision about the righty, despite all the things he brings to the table.
With his trade value at the highest peak of his career, the Mets ought to send Dickey to a team, preferably in the American League, that has a deep farm system like the Texas Rangers—the very club the right-hander began his career with.
As it stands, the closest Mets outfield prospect, Matt den Dekker is only hitting in the low .200s in Triple-A. And with the Mets rich in pitching talent, with the likes of Matt Harvey along with top prospect Zach Wheeler—acquired in a trade with the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran—the Mets have a bright future on the pitching mound. Furthermore, both John Niese and Dillon Gee, despite the latter’s injury, have both emerged as solid major league starters for New York’s National League franchise.
Dickey’s performance this year has been a blessing for the Mets and their fans, who after a great start in the first half of the year—highlighted by Johan Santana throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history—have taken a serious drop in the standings of the NL East. With Jason Bay, Andres Torres and Lucas Duda disappointing, perhaps it is time to make a move that will make the Mets stronger in their present and their future and send Robert Allen Dickey packing so that the Mets can reclaim New York once again.