Pending a physical, the New York Mets have traded National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for several prospects. According to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Dickey will agree to a two year $25 million extension to be reunited with Jose Reyes in Ontario.
This is the first time a reigning Cy Young Award winner has been traded in the off season since the Roger Clemens trade from Toronto to the New York Yankees in 1998-99.
Usually dealing a star at their peak is the action of a small-market team, not a New York team. But the fact of the matter is the Mets should have been acting like a smaller budget team years ago. The move involving the amazingly popular Dickey might frustrate Met fans, but in the long run it shows the correct way of thinking.
A common question heard on sports talk radio over the years is, "Will New York sports fans accept a losing team?" In many ways the question is irrelevant. New York sports fans have a losing team, and it plays baseball in Flushing.
The fact that the Mets play in New York has put an unnecessary burden on the the team that appears to be ignored. This is greatest news a Met fan could ever hear. The team has decided to make progress and kick its big market addiction.
After the 2009 season, I wrote on my personal blog, SullyBaseball, that the Mets should dismantle its team. I pointed out that the Knicks and the Rangers made horrible personnel and financial decisions throughout the 2000's trying to stay relevant in New York instead of rebuilding, which pushed those two proud franchises back a decade.
The spring of 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2010 saw zero playoff games in Madison Square Garden.
It did not matter if New York fans would accept a losing team because they had two, and are just now recovering.
The Mets were in danger of doing the same thing. Even big market teams need to rebuild and throwing good money after bad personnel is a surefire recipe for disaster.
The rebuilding process did not start that off season. In fact the organization made the move that symbolized the horrible decision making that Met fans feared. Jason Bay was signed to a deal that looked terrible from the start. According to Ben Shpigel's article from the New York Times, written the day after Bay was introduced to the New York media, there were questions of whether or not he actually wanted to join the Mets or if he was even a fit.
Three seasons later, Bay and the Mets parted ways with Andrew Keh of the New York Times describing his time in New York generously as "ignominious" and "the most visible symbol of the Mets' recent frustrations and the chief target of their fans' scorn."
The fact that the Mets will be paying Bay but not Dickey shows it made some bad decisions recently.
Had the Mets gone into full rebuilding mode, it may be already two or three seasons closer to putting a champion on the field with homegrown stars, or at least prospects swiped from other organizations.
Perhaps a trade bounty for Reyes or Johan Santana could have filled a few holes. The Mets did well by trading Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler (via ESPN New York). Reyes was arguably a more valuable trade chip.
But now the Mets are having its moment where bad decisions and the team's financial mess has forced them to build for the future. It might sound strange to have a New York team emulate the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays or Arizona Diamondbacks.
Each of those teams has made the postseason this decade and look to be strong in 2013. It is not a stretch to say New York fans would embrace a team full of young exciting players like Oakland, Tampa Bay or Arizona faster than the broken-down veterans who have played every single season in Citi Field.
Dickey might be super popular with the team, but he might have been one of the only reasons to go to a Mets game last season. Unfortunately for Met fans he is also one of the few chips it has of any value.
Of course there is mistrust of the current ownership by Met fans as well. Being swindled by Bernie Madoff can cost an organization the benefit of the doubt.
But Madoff did not run away with general manager Sandy Alderson's money. He built a winner in Oakland once before and evidently will not shy away from tough decisions.
If the players the Mets acquired (according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports), Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, do not pan out, then this will be Alderson's legacy in New York.
If they do work, then he will be remembered as the general manager who decided to make the Mets better for the long run and not just grab the daily headlines.
Will Met fans embrace a loser? They will certainly embrace young, hungry players who are trying and give hope for the future.
The cost of that hope very well might be Dickey.