Is A Dickey Reunion Possible?

Let me say this right off the bat. I’m not writing this to sell people on the notion that R.A. Dickey has another Cy Young caliber season left in his right arm. I’m not writing this to try and convince people that Dickey the knuckleballer is a better rotation option than our five young aces, our newly emerging Triple-A starting depth, or our other 43 year old Big Sexy starting pitcher. But I am writing this to say that it may be worth bringing in some cheap veteran rotation insurance this offseason considering all the injuries we witnessed this year.

Matt Harvey (thoracic outlet syndrome), Jacob deGrom (ulnar nerve), and Steven Matz (elbow bone spur) all had season-ending surgery to repair their pitching arm issues. Noah Syndergaard was pitching this season with a bone spur, but the team decided against surgery to repair the issue. Robert Gsellman had his labrum surgically repaired in his non-pitching shoulder. Zack Wheeler has missed two straight seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery (he’s probably still listed as day-to-day).

From now on every single conversation about one of the Mets’ young starters will include the caveat “if he can stay healthy”.

Bartolo Colon will eventually be a free agent at 43 years old, and there’s no guarantee he returns to the Mets. The young aces are all supposedly going to be recovered and ready to pitch come spring training. But on the off chance that one of the young starters experiences a slightly delayed recovery timeline (very unlikely because as we all know an injury recovery setback has never happened to a single Mets player in history) it might make sense to have a veteran innings eater like R.A. Dickey as an option.

Dickey will be 42 years old this month and wasn’t that effective last year for the Blue Jays (10-15, 4.46 ERA). His walk rate was up (3.3 BB/9) relative to his career norm (2.8) and his strikeout rate (6.7 K/9) was down relative to his best seasons where he averaged over 7 Ks per 9 innings. But prior to last year, he had pitched 200+ innings for five straight seasons. In 2014 and 2015 he posted an ERA under 4.

He said he’s considering retirement after the season, but if he does continue to play, he’s openly said he wants to play for a team that gives him a chance to win it all. The Mets certainly fit that description. If the interest in Dickey is limited league-wide, and he would sign a one-year deal at a minimal cost (significantly less than the 12 million he made in 2016), I think he’d be a fine rotation insurance policy for the Mets.

The Mets have plenty of major issues to tackle this offseason before they even begin to think about starting pitching depth. And despite all the question marks surrounding their young starters, it’s unlikely the Mets will spend big money in free agency on a starter or trade for a big time arm.

This team is built on the backs of our five young aces. If we are ever going to make it to the promised land in October, the young arms will be the ones that lead us there. But Bartolo Colon emerging as the most durable pitcher in the Mets rotation in 2016 has served as a very real reminder of how fragile the young rotation can be.

Plus, imagine how amazing the 2017 storyline would be if we paired Bartolo and Dickey in the same rotation even for a short stretch. If the stars align and the cost is minimal, I would have no problem watching two 40 year old fan favorites serving as insurance for the Mets young studs. After all, whether they are among the youngest arms in the league or the oldest, you can never have enough pitching.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on Mets Merized Online.

The Next Generation: 2016 Top 10 Mets Prospects 

Today, ESPN’s Keith Law released his highly anticipated 2016 Mets Top 10 Prospect rankings. Law is one of ESPN’s baseball analytics gurus, and he previously worked as a special assistant for current Mets Assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi when Ricciardi was GM of the Blue Jays. This year, Law had the Mets farm system ranked at 16th out of the 30 teams. Middle of the pack. Not showing off. Not getting left behind. Now that did represent a significant drop from our 4th place ranking in 2015. That being said, the drop makes some sense considering we promoted the top three prospects from his 2015 list (Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto and Kevin Plawecki), and we traded our top pitching prospect Michael Fulmer to Detroit at the 2015 trade deadline for Yoenis Cespedes.

Anyway, here is Law’s list and my thoughts:

1) Dominic Smith: The scouts love this guy. He was drafted 11th by the Mets in the 2013 draft. Law has him at 29th in his overall MLB Top 100 Prospects list. Law describes him as “one of the best pure hitters in the minors”, and he hit .305 in 118 games at High A ball last season. His power is still developing, but his glove is supposedly MLB ready and gold caliber. The idea of a defensive-minded player in our infield is borderline unfathomable (closes eyes…sees Lucas Duda throwing ball over D’Arnaud’s head in Game 5… shudders). His ETA is 2017 which would align well with Duda’s free agency timeline after the 2017 season. The only negative mentioned by Law is that Smith looked like he had gained a lot of weight in the Arizona Fall League, and he wasn’t talking about muscle mass.

Keith Law just fat shaming the hell out of Dom Smith. I think we can cut the guy a break, I mean after all it is winter. A perfect time to put on a little mass in the midsection for the sake of warmth. Granted, Smith is from California so additional blubber might not be entirely necessary. And conditioning is part of his job description as a professional athlete. But I am just going to pretend its a minor seasonal weight fluctuation, and that he’s on track for a breakout rookie campaign in 2017.

2) Steven Matz: Hard to count Matz as a prospect, but he didn’t hit maximum rookie innings thresholds in 2015. So he’s still technically a rookie. And why didn’t he meet the thresholds? Late promotion but also injuries. And injuries are the biggest red flag with him. In fact Law indicated his ceiling is capped at a number 4 starter with number 1 stuff because he fears he just won’t pitch enough. He doesn’t see him as a horse like Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, or Jacob deGrom. Let’s hope Matz proves Law wrong.

3) Amed Rosario and 4) Gavin Cecchini: Two shortstops in our Top 5 and in the leagues Top 100? Really? Is a Jose Reyes successor really on the horizon? Are the annual Spring battles between Ruben Tejada and someone else finally coming to an end? According to Law the answer is yes. Rosario, ranked at 42 in Law’s Top 100, is 20 years old but projects as a possible star. Law says “he has the kind of raw tools and athleticism to be a top 10 prospect in the game in a year”. Cecchini, ranked at 89 in Law’s Top 100, is closer to the major leagues then Rosario. He projects as a contact hitter with above average defensive skills. We selected Cecchini 12th in the 2012 draft, so the high expectations around him make sense. He broke out offensively at AA last year and is likely to start at AAA Vegas this season. If he can get past the distraction of the Vegas clubhouse slot machines and have a big season in AAA, he may be in the plan for 2017.

5) Wuilmer Becerra: We got this OF in the R.A. Dickey trade. He is 20 years old and projects to be a regular who can hit for average and power. The idea to trade R.A. Dickey after he won his CY Young Award in 2012 was an absolute no brainer. However, the haul Sandy got for him is truly astounding. Thor, Travis d’Arnaud, and this outfielder Becerra. It’s already looking like an all time heist based on the early success of Thor and D’Arnaud. If they both really go on to have successful, healthy major league careers and Becerra actually becomes a viable major leaguer, it’s going to look even more lopsided in the Mets favor.

6) Brandon Nimmo: Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray, Kolten Wong, and Joe Panik. All pretty good players right? Well we passed on all of them in the 2011 draft when we selected Nimmo 13th out of high school. Nimmo doesn’t project to have the defensive skills to play CF, and he has not developed the power that the Mets originally anticipated. He was going to start the season at AAA, but he tore a tendon in his foot so he will now miss 4 to 6 weeks. “4th outfielder” is being thrown around. “Bust” can’t be far behind.

7) Desmond Lindsay: Mets second round pick in 2015. He projects as a speedy defense first CF.

8) Robert Gsellman: He’s a sinkerballer that projects as a 5th starter. Should start the year in AAA Vegas and serve as rotation depth. Hopefully, our young starters are healthy and we never see him in the rotation. Ever.

9) Jhoan Urena: He’s a 21 year old third basemen that played at Single-A last year but battled injuries. Keith Law likes his swing and propensity to make contact.

10) Luis CarpioHe’s a 17 year old SS that has raw skills and handles himself well in the field and at the dish for his age.