When I had the opportunity to interview R.A. Dickey last month, he told me that people were still suspicious of knuckleballers:
The problem is, people still have this bias against the
pitch. They think it's a gimmick, they think it's a trick pitch, illegitimate, whatever
adjective you want to try and put there you can. It takes a little while to get
people past that.
The lingering suspicion of knuckleballers, combined with Dickey's age, has given the Mets cover in sending Dickey packing instead of agreeing to his very reasonable contract demands. A 74-win team has gotten rid of the man who earned 20 of those wins. If more people really believed that Dickey could duplicate his great 2012, there would be a lot more outcry over this trade. Teams don't usually trade the reigning Cy Young winner.
And Dickey had become far more than just a great pitcher, but a local folk hero. As I've written before, Dickey's popularity could have led to his becoming a longterm representative of the franchise a la David Wright. Instead, Dickey is not only gone, but had to face anonymous sniping on the way out, aided and abetted by Post writer Ken
Davidoff's attacks on the knuckleballer. It only serves as a reminder
that much of whatever class the Mets have has left with Dickey.
I hope Dickey proves all the doubters wrong. With Jose Reyes also joining the Blue Jays, I now have a new team to root for in the AL East.
That said, with the current state of the Mets' franchise, trading Dickey for the haul of prospects the Mets got could be the right move long-term. Citi Field could even become a more interesting place if the team appears to be building for the future instead of treading water and denying they are in rebuilding mode.
You never know what will happen when you start stockpiling young players. Four years ago, Omar Minaya traded a bunch of players for J.J. Putz and Sean Green, both of whom are long gone from the Mets. One of the players the Mets gave up in that deal, lefthanded pitcher Jason Vargas, was traded today even up for righthanded power hitter Kendrys Morales.