Archive for the 'R.A. Dickey' Category

A Poor Perception

Last night, some of the biggest names in rock music gathered at Madison Square Garden to perform and raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief. Communities in New Jersey, specifically the devastated shore area, and Long Island suffered the worst of Sandy’s wrath. Many are still without power and homeless, living in shelters or other locations not of their own.

I bring this up today as a matter of perspective.  The Mets have offered R.A. Dickey a twenty million dollar extension for years 2014 and 2015. With five million owed for next season, Dickey will make 25 million over the next three seasons with possibly an option in 2016 for 10 more million.

At the Mets holiday party at Citi Field earlier in the week, Dickey vented his frustration with management that the process was going too slow and they were far apart on the money. For most of Dickey’s short career with the Mets, he has been the perfect role model. A soulful person with many life anecdotes, Dickey is an interview you don’t want to miss. But on this particular Tuesday, it was hard for me to listen to R.A. complaining about being offered upwards of 35 million dollars to play a kids game.

Look, I get it. Americans overvalue very unimportant things. Athletes and movie stars have not cured cancer, haven’t figured out how to close the ridiculous income disparity in this country, and they certainly have not come up with a way to fight global climate change to hopefully prevent another storm like Sandy. But for us working class stiffs who use baseball as a means of escape, we tend to honor and side with these athletes more that we should.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a huge supporter of owners. For the most part, they are greedy robber barrens who are more of the problem than the solution. But given the current situation, having suffered Sandy’s destructive force and trying to make ends meet even if the storm did not effect some of us too badly, Dickey made a calculated risk and for me, it backfired, at least in terms of perception.

I don’t blame Dickey for the posturing. Every athlete and their agent have the right to try and get every last dollar they can. After all, he was the National League Cy Young award winner and certainly deserves a nice pay day. So while I do not fault him for his complaints, I think his timing was poor. And let’s not forget, Dickey is not a free agent. He has one year left on his contract for five million dollars. The Mets are under no obligation to pay him a penny more. The fact that the Mets want to sign him to an extension speaks volumes and criticism levied against the team is unfair.

I have heard the counter argument. What do you expect when he (Dickey) is at Citi Field and reporters are shoving their recording devices in his face asking about the contract?

What I expected is what I have come to love and respect about R.A. Dickey. He’s a renaissance man. He’s very well read, is a writer, and has a keen understanding of the human condition, rare for an athlete that’s for sure. What I hoped was restraint and for him to express the situation elegantly has he has done with everything else that has come his way. But on this particular Tuesday he sounded like all the other garden variety athletes who are always trying to get the most they can. Again, it’s hard to blame him but for me it was disappointing.

The truth of the matter is simple. While Dickey wants the best contract he can get, Sandy Alderson’s job is to make the Mets a better team. All that has happened so far this off season is some of the Mets players have been non tendered and David Wright was resigned. The Mets at the moment are no better off than they were when they won their 74th game on the final day of the 2012 season. That is not to say that signing Dickey does not make them better. But Dickey being used in a trade that could return one or two impact hitting outfielders could definitely make the Mets better.

With Zack Greinke off the market having signed with the Yankees west…err the Dodgers, and with the Royals getting the pitchers they wanted from Tampa Bay, Alderson suddenly finds himself holding a commodity few other teams have to offer. The Mets want the top two hitting prospects for any team who wants Dickey. While that my be a good poker bluff, the Mets would be just as glad to hold on to Dickey and are comfortable giving him the extension they have offered. Alderson being patient only increases the odds of a team blinking first. If that happens, I’m sure Alderson will pounce on the opportunity unless Dickey has accepted the offer first.

The incident at Citi on Tuesday really is no harm, no foul. It was just disappointing for this particular fan because of the perception that Dickey fostered. In the end all I want is for the Mets to be better. A player’s feelings or how the GM is perceived is really unimportant.

Seaver, Gooden, and now R. A.

Tom Seaver did it three times. Dwight Gooden did it once. Who would be the third Mets pitcher in the history of the franchise to win the Cy Young award?

Would it be David Cone who won 20 games for the Mets in 1988? No, he didn’t do it. What about Frank Viola in 1990, the next to last Mets pitcher to win 20 games? No, not him either. Certainly it had to be one of the Generation K pitchers, Bill Pulsipher, Paul Wilson, or Jason Isringhausen? No, none of them panned out with the Mets although Isringhausen carved out a nice career in the bullpen in Oakland and St. Louis.

What about Al Leiter or Mike Hampton? No way. Leiter was one of the gutsiest pitchers to ever wear the blue and orange but he was never Cy Young material. Hampton pitched great in 2000, getting the Mets to their last world series but no, he did not win one either.

Tom Glavine pitched very well for bad Mets teams even though they were in the playoffs once with the former Braves hurler.  How about him? Nope, he never go the Cy Young either. Surely Johan Santana must have done it? Well, Johan solidified his place all time in Mets lore by pitching the first no-hitter in team history last June 1st but no Cy Younger for him either. The third Cy Young pitcher in Mets history goes to none other than…

R. A. Dickey!    R.A. Dickey? Who?

It is truly one of the great stories in Mets history. Last evening, the coveted Cy Young award in the National League was delivered to none other than R.A Dickey and he deserved every bit of it.

Purely from a baseball perspective, Dickey deserved the award and he won it handily getting 27 first place votes. Not even close. But Dickey deserved the award for his incredible story too. Not that any of that counts as far as the voting is concerned but here is a person who worked so hard to re-image himself through adversity and make it as a major league pitcher. Plus he toiled brilliantly for an absolutely terrible team, at least they were terrible the second half of the season.

Of course the story is old now. Dickey had to learn the knuckle ball because of arm trouble early on. It was the only way he could survive in professional baseball. Omar Minaya, the former Mets GM, the GM I love to bash, gave Dickey a chance. And it paid off. He was cut from the major league roster in spring training of 2010 and went to Buffalo to work on his stuff with Josh Thole working behind the plate. The rest is history. Dickey got his chance, pitched better and better, then came the magical year of 2012.

He won 20 games, the first to do so since the aforementioned Viola 22 years ago. He led the league in strikeouts, was second in ERA, first in innings pitched and games started and third in WHIP. Dickey was first with five complete games. That’s two more than only two other pitchers in the NL who had three. He also led the league with three shutouts, two being back to back.

Dickey was truly remarkable on a very bad team. Plus he’s a great guy who is down to earth, intellectual, sentimental, and totally deserving of all the nice things every commentator is saying and every writer is writing. His story is right out of Hollywood and I would not be surprised to see his tale on the big screen in the not too distant future.

Ironically, because of the Mets current situation, its possible Dickey could be in another uniform come opening day. I hope that isn’t the case but the Mets need to shake things up after four miserable losing seasons. Ultimately it comes down to fielding a winning team. If it means trading Dickey to get pieces that can help the Mets win and sustain that winning for a time, you can be sure Cy Young or no Cy Young, Dickey will be moved. I hope that Sandy Alderson can figure out a way to get the Mets where they need to go with Dickey in the mix but I am also tired of the losing and will defer to the GM.

Never the less, Dickey gave us Mets fans something to truly cheer about this season and make us proud. For that–congratulations R.A and best of luck where every your journey continues to take you.

Dickey Does It

Yesterday, R.A. Dickey joined the ranks of Tom Seaver (1967-1977, 1983), Jerry Koosman (1967-1978), Dwight Gooden (1984-1994), David Cone (1987-1992, 2003), and Frank Viola (1989-1991) to become the sixth pitcher in Mets history to win at least 20 games in one season. The last time it was done was by Viola who won 20 in 1990.

The complete list of pitchers to win at least 20 in a season…

Seaver – 1969:25, 1971:20, 1972:21, 1975:22
Gooden – 1985:24
Koosman – 1976:20
Cone – 1988:20
Viola – 1990:20
Dickey -2012:20 with one more start

Seaver remains the king of all Mets pitchers having won 20 or more games four times. Gooden’s 24-4 season was one of the most dominant in club history perhaps surpassed only by Seaver’s 25-7 mark of 1969.

With a win next week in Miami, Dickey could move into third place in club history tied with Koosman ahead of Cone and Viola.

In their respective 20 win seasons, Dickey’s strikeout total (so far 222) out numbers Viola’s (182), Cone’s (213), Koosman’s  (200) and Seaver’s  in 1969 (208). Seaver struck out 289, 249, and 243 in his three other 20 game seasons. Gooden struck out 268 in his 24 win season.

The main difference between Dickey and the other Mets 20 game winners is that Dickey throws a knuckle ball and he accomplished this feat for a losing team, a team currently 12 games under .500.  Seaver, Koosman, Cone, Gooden, and Viola did so for Mets teams that finished above .500, in most cases at least 10 games over.

Here is the complete list of Dickey’s wins from this year so far…

Win Date Opponent Score IP H R ER SO BB
1 April 7 Atlanta 4-2 6.0 5 2 2 3 4
2 April 13 @ Philadelphia 5-2 7.0 9 1 1 7 1
3 April 25 Miami 5-1 7.0 3 1 1 7 1
4 May 6 Arizona 3-1 8.0 4 1 1 4 4
5 May 12 @ Miami 9-3 6.0 9 2 2 0 1
6 May 22 @ Pittsburgh 3-2 7.0 5 1 1 11 0
7 May 27 San Diego 2-0 7.1 3 0 0 10 1
8 June 2 St. Louis 5-0 9.0 7 0 0 9 0
9 June 7 @ Washington 3-1 7.1 4 0 0 8 0
10 June 13 @ Tampa Bay 9-1 9.0 1 1 0 12 0
11 June 18 Baltimore 5-0 9.0 1 0 0 13 2
12 June 29 @ LA Dodgers 9-0 8.0 3 0 0 10 1
13 July 19 @ Washington 9-5 7.1 10 4 3 5 1
14 July 29 @ Arizona 5-1 7.0 4 1 0 8 3
15 August 9 Miami 6-1 9.0 5 1 1 10 0
16 August 25 Houston 3-1 7.0 5 1 1 2 1
17 August 31 @ Miami 3-0 9.0 5 0 0 7 3
18 September 5 @ St. Louis 6-2 6.2 8 2 2 5 1
19 September 22 Miami 4-3 8.0 6 2 2 4 2
20 September 27 Pittsburgh 6-5 7.2 8 3 3 13 2

 

With Dickey’s stats being favorable to many elite pitchers in the National League this season, it is very possible he could win the Cy Young Award. Tom Seaver won the Cy Young award in two of his four 20 plus win seasons in 1969 and 1975 (also won in 1973 with 19 wins) and Dwight Gooden won the award in 1985 for his 24-4 season. It was the last time a Mets pitcher won the prestigious award for pithching. Randy Jones of the Padres (22 wins) beat out Koosman in ’76 while Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers (23 wins) in ’88 beat out Cone. Doug Drabak of the Pirates (22 wins) won the Cy Young over Viola in ’90. Dickey will be challenged by Gio Gonzales of the Nationals who won his 21st game yesterday.  With the Nats positioned to win the division over the weekend, it’s possible manager Davey Johnson will skip Gonzales’ start or at least limit his innings to three to get prepared for the playoffs. If that happens, Dickey would have a chance to tie Gonzales for the lead in wins.

Living Legend

Omar Minaya signed him—Robert Alan Dickey that is. So I guess we should give Omar credit, maybe he wasn’t so bad of a GM after all.

Well, not so fast. Look, Omar was good at evaluating talent. I don’t think anyone disputes that. Minaya had a talent for picking up talent off the scrap heap that most others gave up on. Jose Valentin comes to mind as well as Orlando Hernandez and even Oliver Perez, at least for a time. Today, a lot of his draft pieces are contributing to the Mets success at the Major League level. Mostly what Sandy Alderson has given us is still being nurtured on the farm and he has brought in some Major League bullpen castoffs while the Mets try and get their house in order.  But in fairness, Omar did bring in Dickey and all Mets fans have to be grateful.

However, let’s not go crazy here. What was Dickey when Omar signed him? R. A. had toiled mostly in the minor leagues since 1997 when he first came up through the Rangers system. He finally made it to the Show in 2001 where he went 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. I recall little or no articles regarding a young phenom pitcher in the Rangers system named Dickey.

Dickey continued to bounce between AAA and the Majors for most of his career until 2008 when he spent the majority of the season with a new team, the Seattle Mariners. There he compiled a 5-8 record with a 5.21 ERA. He pitched for Minnesota in 2009 going 1-1 before getting picked up by the Mets then promptly was sent to Buffalo for the start of the 2010 season.  What followed has truly been remarkable.

“Fella, you don’t start playing ball at your age. You retire” Said Pop Fisher, manager of the fictitious New York Knights from the 1984 film The Natural, to Roy Hobbs, the aged ballplayer who appeared out of nowhere to become a superstar.  The same could be said of R. A. Dickey who at age 37 has become an unbelievable story. Most pitchers have hung them up or at least considering it by Dickey’s age. But here is one of the more fascinating stories to come out of baseball in a very long time.

Dickey is not only pitching well, with his hard knuckle ball and incredible wit on the mound, he is dominating hitters. Perhaps not since Oral Hershiser in 1988 has a pitcher been this good. Last evening, Dickey became the first pitcher in 24 years to throw back to back one-hitters. A couple of weeks ago all any Mets fan could talk about was Johan Santana throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history. The following day, sitting in the Promenade at Citi Field, I remarked to my son that Dickey appeared more dominating than Santana the night before.  That day, Dickey pitched a complete game shutout against the Cardinals. Since then, he has not allowed an earned run and pitched two more complete games in three starts winning all of them. He currently is the Major League leading winning pitcher with an 11-1 record and a 2.00 ERA. It’s mind boggling.

Seaver, Koosman, Matlack, Gooden, Fernandez, Darling, Cone, Saberhagen, Leiter, Dickey. Dickey? Yes Dickey. Hard to believe but at least for the time being, you would have to list Dickey with some of the great Mets pitchers of all time. He has set the all time club record of consecutive scoreless innings surpassing Jerry Koosman. He still has not allowed an earned run in over 40 innings closing in on Doc Gooden’s record.

And maybe that’s the beauty of this story. What team, who has had great pitching, is in better need of a feel good story than the New York Mets. They have struggled since the end of 2007 suffering an unbelievable collapse. Then they closed historic Shea Stadium on a day they lost, yet again, with a chance to go to the playoffs. Citi Field opened to massive injuries and a losing season. The team continued to lose as the Bernie Madoff saga unfolded. Finally Mets fans have something to cheer about—a young team of mostly home grown talent and a 37 year old journeyman pitcher who is fast becoming a living legend.

Dickey takes the mound on Sunday night, again at Citi Field. Providing there is no rainout, he will face a New York Yankees lineup against left handed pitcher C.C. Sabathia.  Currently the Yankees are in the midst of a ten game winning streak, a streak that began at Yankee Stadium against the Mets. Who knows, by Sunday night maybe the Yankees are attempting to win their 15th in a row. If that comes to pass, there is only one pitcher I would want on the mound for the Mets and that would be Robert Alan Dickey. Could you imagine saying such a thing just two years ago?