Welcome to Toronto Mr. Dickey

Upper Deck Insight 17 December 2012 | 6 Comments

Today marks a landmark day in Blue Jays history. If the Marlins trade meant the Jays were shifting gears and getting better, and if the Melky signing signalled that we’re serious about contending in 2013, the acquisition of defending NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey tells us one thing and one

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thing only:

We’re not simply planning to contend – we’re planning to win.

That message hadn’t been sent to the fan base since 1992 and 1993, with the Jeff Kent for David Cone, and the Steve Karsay for Ricky Henderson deals.

Now, it’s being sent again.

Did the Jays give up a lot to reel in Dickey? Without a question they did. Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard were not only the two top prospects in the Blue Jays system, they were two of the top prospects in all of baseball.

But I’ve heard a few times that the Jays are dealing top prospects for one year of a 38-year old knucklballer who’s had only one good year in his life. What people forget is that an extension is part of the deal, meaning Dickey will be here for three years, not one, and that Dickey has had more than one good year: from 2010-2012 he went 39-28 with a 2.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a 3.12 K/BB ratio for the Mets, a team that went 26 games under .500 in that time.

And though they may have given up a lot, you’ve got to give something to get something.

Although I was a bit skeptical at first, after spending some time thinking about it, here are six reasons why I am fully on-board with this trade:

1. The Toronto Blue Jays haven’t made the playoffs in 20 years. Despite the expansion of the playoff system from two teams per league, to four teams, and last year to five teams, the Jays haven’t made it. In fact, the Jays have barely even sniffed the playoffs in that time, routinely finishing double digits behind playoff teams. Stuck in the same division as the huge wallets of New York and Boston, and recently with the rising powerhouse Rays, things looked hopeless.

But things are different this year. Look at the rest of the AL East:

The Yankees are old, and getting older. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will be coming back from significant injuries. A-Rod will miss about half the year. Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda are a combined 176 years old. CC Sabathia weighs nearly a metric ton. Mark Teixeira has been regressing sharply for years. On top of that, the Yankees are actively trying to REDUCE payroll!

Boston is a shadow if its former self. After shedding a ton of bad contracts last year, fans had hope that they would invest that money wisely. But instead of going all in on a Josh Hamilton type, or trying to get younger, they blew their wad on a collection of players that might actually make them worse in 2013. Teams often try to catch lightning in a bottle with signings, but the Red Sox are trying to catch lightning in a bottle with FIVE players: Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster, and Stephen Drew. Good luck with that.

Tampa Bay is still a powerhouse, and just acquired Wil Myers. But they still have holes at 1B and DH, and lost James Shields, one of the most dependable pitchers in baseball.

Baltimore had a magical year last year, and responded by doing nothing to improve their roster other then re-signing Nate McLouth and dumping Mark Reynolds.

If there has ever been a chance to rise to the top of the AL East, 2013 is it.

2. Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard are outstanding talents. If you listen to baseball experts, they are both future All-Stars, and will be for years and years. But, the same was also said about Todd Van Poppel and Brien Taylor, two top notch prospects who fell flat and were incredible busts. The fact is, nobody knows how well a prospect will fare in the big leagues until he gets to the big leagues. For every Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, and Joe Mauer (top rated prospects by Baseball America) the road is littered with failures, including:

Van Poppel, Taylor, Alex Gonzalez (the old Jays SS who was the #4 prospect in all of baseball in 1994), Brian Matusz, Tommy Hanson, Delmon Young, Joba Chamberlain, Jeremy Hermida, Brandon Wood, Lastings Milledge, and on and on and on….

Jays fans already know failed prospects well. On top of the aforementioned Gonzalez, names like Jose Silva, Kelvim Escobar, Alex Rios, Dustin McGowan, and (sadly) Travis Snider and Kyle Drabek come to mind.

The point is that there is a very good chance that d’Arnaud and Syndergaard are future All-Stars. There is a better chance, if history is any indication, that they aren’t.

3. However – let’s assume for a minute that they are elite prospects who WILL turn into MLB superstars. Travis d’Arnaud has shown to be a bit injury prone thus far, and missed most of 2012 with a knee injury. Because of that, he might not make an impact until later in 2013 or 2014. Syndergaard spent last year in class A Lansing, meaning he still has a long way to go to reach the majors. Let’s say he gets there and is a solid contributor in 2015 or 2016. By that time, with Syndergaard throwing to d’Arnaud, the current Jays core of Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Mark Buehrle will be 3-4 years older, and likely well on the downside of their careers. Josh Johnson might be gone. The bottom line is that this current core of players can’t wait for the next core, lead by Syndergaard and d’Arnaud to get here. Those guys might plug big holes in the rotation and at the catcher position, but by then we’d have holes in right field, DH, shortstop, and possibly elsewhere. A World Series winning team fronted by Bautista wouldn’t happen if we waited for Syndergaard to be the ace.

4. Fans can’t have it both ways. Remember the anger last year on Twitter when Toronto failed to sign Prince Fielder, Carlos Beltran, Yu Darvish, and others? Remember the frustration by fans who lamented the fact that we were stockpiling prospects and waiting for next year? Well folks, next year is here. The Jays have done what you wanted all along and are now going for it. So why the anger that we are dealing prospects now?

Top prospects can help you win by going through the minors and making contributions at the major league level. But they can also help you win by building up value and then being dealt for high level, major league ready, impact talent, talent like Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and yes, R.A. Dickey. This team is remarkably better right now than it was last year. We should all be excited about that. I want to be able to celebrate a World Series win by going crazy on Yonge Street with a million of my closest friends. Constantly waiting for next year would never allow that to happen.

5. As part of the deal, R.A. Dickey agreed to an extension that, at the time I write this, appears to be worth $25-million over two years, meaning that Toronto will be paying Dickey $30-million over the next three years when his $5-million salary for 2013 is factored in. Yes there are risks – Dickey will be 38-years old on Opening Day. But he is a knuckleball pitcher, and those types of pitchers often pitch until their mid 40’s. Plus, and this is important, HE IS THE DEFENDING NL CY YOUNG AWARD WINNER!!!!!!

To put this deal in context, consider that Kansas City is paying Jeremy Guthrie $25-million for 3-years. Boston will be paying Ryan Dempster (nearly 36-year old Ryan Dempster) $26.5-million for the next two years. Josh Beckett will be paid $31.5-million by the Dodgers for the next two seasons. 40-year old (turning 41) Andy Pettitte is being paid $12-million next year by the Yankees. On top of that, Dickey will be paid $9-millon less over the next three years than Boston is paying a clearly regressing Shane Victorino, and nearly half as much in 2013 as they are paying Stephen Drew. In those terms, this deal look a bit better doesn’t it?

6. Let’s say for a second that everything goes belly up, that d’Arnaud and Syndergaard flourish and become future stars, that Dickey has a terrible season, and the Blue Jays end up in last place in the East. While that would be an unmitigated disaster, take some comfort in the following:

a) while they’ll miss d’Arnaud, J.P. Arencibia is still a pretty good catcher to fall back on. Yes he struggles with getting on base, and he is by no means a top-5 catcher in the AL, but he has hit 41 home runs the past two seasons. It’s not like they’re left with Jose Molina. In addition, Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez, Deck McGuire and others are still rising in the minors, so the pitching cupboard is by no means bare.

b) d’Arnaud and Syndergaard would be flourishing with the New York Mets, who last I checked played in the NL East. They would not be in direct competition with Toronto.

c) Alex Anthopoulos was responsible for acquiring d’Arnaud and drafting Syndergaard. If anything, he has proven to have a decent eye for talent. In the next few years, there is a very good chance that the next d’Arnaud and the next Syndergaard will already be in the Blue Jays minor league system.

So keep the faith and always remember:

In AA we trust.

6 Responses on “Welcome to Toronto Mr. Dickey”

  1. Mark Britton says:

    This is a great post. Lots of great points here. I was also sceptical at first but am starting to come around. There are risks with any trade or signing and there will always be critics, but I for one am pumped about 2013!

  2. Al Trendy says:

    I am officially excited for opening day. Thank you, Fan!

  3. Darrin Davis says:

    Great post.
    I totally agree. Listening to complaining jays fans
    public opinion is ludicrous. AA has likely been planning this type of prospect swap for a long time.

    I was also totally thinking the same thing about the timing of d’arnaud and syndergard coming up.
    By the time they’re ready, our current crazy electric bats will be waning, if not totally gone.

    I also think the arguments about dickey being a one season star are crazy.

    He was a journeyman on the skids for a while. Has a change of scenery, finds his groove, and becomes the king.

    Sound familiar, Joey Batts?

    I’m willing to stick my neck out here and say this:

    Over 92, above 93, this jays lineup is going to be the best of all time. Big personality Characters, second to none pitching (our 2012 opening day ace is now our #5 starter. ) Homegrown hero lawrie. Crazy speed Reyes starting off each game. Bau and likely a super confident EE destroying parking lot SUVs. A killer bullpen. Delabar was amazing last year. Maybe darren oliver will stay? My main squeeze casey jansen. Possibly santos. The fact the Melky Carbrera hasn’t even been mentioned in a week shows the calibre the jays have steeled up with.

    The next whiny little twerp I hear bemoaning AA gets a Gibson doublefisted leg raiser drop kick morning special straight to the solar plexus.

    In AA we trust.

  4. DY says:

    Another great post, Sir, by which I mean I agree completely. Sure they gave up a couple of great prospects for Radickey, but that is at least half of the point of stockpiling a bunch of prospects, so that you can trade them to rebuilding teams for MLB players who are already good.

    Nobody knows how D’Arnaud, Syndergaard will turn out, but if they’re anything like 80-95% of top prospects, they’re going to take several years to adjust to the majors and will probably disappoint. Even Matt Weiters, who was a better prospect that D’Arnaud ever was, took about three years to become a useful hitter. And there weren’t any questions about his health or defense. Syndergaard is probably more likely never to make the major leagues than he is to turn into a star. Even if he does make it, how many times is he going to have to struggle, get sent back down, get called back up again before he establishes himself.

    Chris Carpenter was finally a good pitcher 11 years after the Jays drafted him. That’s 2021 for Syndergaard. We will all be retired already, taking in holographic broadcasts of Jays games from our beach houses on the coast of present day Saskatchewan.

    Even if they’re both all-stars in 2 years, I’d rather the Jays cash in some of these chips and try to win now. They still have good prospects in the system. Radickey is a genuine #1 starter, and he might thrown his 80mph knuckleball into his mid-40s. Maybe it will be 70mph then, but if Jamie Moyer can slop a useful 70mph pitch up there in his late 40s without using his knuckles at all, I like the chances that this Radickey trade works out for Toronto.

  5. DY says:

    Remember the last time the Jays traded for a knuckleball pitcher to help them get into the playoffs? They traded Mark Whiten and Glenallen Hill for Tom Candiotti mid-season. Candiotti was great down the stretch, but then got beat up in the playoffs and the Jays lost to the Twins in 5 games.

    Whiten was the #25 ranked prospect in baseball at the time, and Hill had been #58 the year before, which is not far from where D’Arnaud and Syndergaard are now. They didn’t exactly pan out although I remember Whiten having something like 14RBI in one game years later. Candiotti left as a FA after the season ended. What a joker.

  6. Jordan Smart says:

    Hi 500levelfan.

    Great post…almost read the whole thing!

    You seem to be omitting one key fact. This is the second time the Jays have really GONE for it since winning the back to back titles. I would argue that they were swinging for the fences with the signing of MLB Super Slugger, Frank Thomas. If the Jays do not see success this year, the missed opportunity with the 2006 signing of the Big Hurt will be even more amplified.

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