Monday, December 3, 2012

Dodgers check in on R.A. Dickey, but an acquisition doesn't seem likely

It isn't too often a Cy Young award winner is traded less than a month after winning the award, but the Mets are trying to do just that with R.A. Dickey.

The Dodgers have interest in the 38-year-old knuckleballer after having checked in with the Mets today at the Winter Meetings.

Normally, going after a Cy Young award winner would be a no-brainer, but there are a lot of things to consider when thinking about acquiring Dickey.


Dickey is no spring chicken at 38. He began his career with the Rangers and made his debut as a 26-year-old.

He was downright awful with the Rangers (five seasons), Mariners (one season) and Twins (one season):

5.43 ERA
1.57 WHIP
10.6 H/9
1.4 HR/9

Something to keep an eye on is his strikeout rate. Prior to his joining the Mets, it was 5.5 per nine innings. In his first two seasons with them, it was 5.6. In 2012, it was 8.9 -- by far a career-high. He also led the National League in strikeouts (230). I don't think that's repeatable. If it isn't, he loses some value.


The knuckleball is the most unpredictable pitch in baseball. There is a reason it isn't used as prominently as other pitches. Sure, Phil Nekro is a hall-of-famer because of it and guys like Charlie Hough, Tom Candiotti and Tim Wakefield had long, productive careers, but for every one of those guys come Charlie Haeger (he of the 12-strikeout performance against Florida for the Dodgers in 2010), Dennis Springer (he who gave up No. 73 to Barry Bonds) Steve Sparks (he about whom I don't care much).

It's unfair, especially considering Dickey has been really good the last three seasons. Dickey's knuckleball is not the norm, as it averaged 77.1 MPH, up from 75.9 MPH in 2010 and 76.1 MPH in 2011.

Also, check out this fantastic breakdown of the pitch by Whet Moser of Chicago Mag.

It seems less risky than a "traditional" knuckleballer, but there is an inherent risk with the pitch. Always has been, always will be.


The Mets are obviously attempting to sell high on their ace and would presumably want a couple top prospects in return. Under normal circumstances (relative term), I wouldn't be opposed to it. However, at 38 and with an unpredictable pitch, it's hard to give up a lot of value.

If I'm the Dodgers, I'd give up Dee Gordon, a top-10 (back-half, preferably) guy and a third guy (C/C+ range) to land Dickey -- with or without a contract extension. I know it isn't enough to land him or even get the Mets to the table, but that's what I think Dickey is worth.

Dickey could be dominant like he was this season, thus giving the Dodgers a true No. 2 starter. Or he could be middle-of-the-rotation material, which the Dodgers have plenty of these days.

While Dickey doesn't have a lot of major league mileage on his arm (1,059 1/3 innings), he's complied 58.2 percent of those innings in the last three seasons -- his age-35, 36 and 37 seasons. He has proven to be durable and the knuckleball doesn't put a lot of stress on his arm, so perhaps his workload is less of a concern than it should be. It's just something to keep in mind.


If the Dodgers were to acquire Dickey (and I don't think it'll happen), I could still see them landing Zack Greinke on the free agent market. A 1-4 of Clayton Kershaw, Greinke, Dickey and Chad Billingsley would be awfully tough come playoff time.

Dickey is a great success story, but the Mets are going to want more in return than they should probably get, most likely leading them to keep him until the trade deadline. Either that or a team desperate for a top-of-the-rotation pitcher (I'm looking at you, Kansas City) will take a chance on him and he'll be dealt this week.

Dickey is a nice option, but he's not an alternative to Greinke. The Dodgers need to land Greinke.

Photo credit: slgckgc, Flickr

1 comment:

  1. I'm really liking Dickey and whatever it takes if reasonable.