The Mets 2011 PreDICKEYment

In a year rife with moral victories and the subsequent heartbreak that comes along with it, R.A. Dickey has been one of the more pleasant surprises with the 2010 Mets.  I’m sure most Mets fans weren’t expecting much from a 35 year-old quasi-journeyman knuckleballer (I certainly wasn’t), we can now break bread that R.A. Dickey is one of the rare bright spots in a more-often-than-not disappointing season.  Perhaps we should change the show to “Everybody Loves R.A.” instead of Raymond.

In one of the seldom-made smarter moves on the Mets’ management part leading into 2010, Dickey was signed to a minor league contract, making his first appearance with the big club in May of this year.  And what has transpired is nothing short of magical.  Okay, fine.  It was more than what most expected from him (we’ll take our miracles where we can these days, thank you very much): he has gone 10-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 22 games started.

Yes, in a year when pitching had more question marks than exclamation points, R.A. Dickey provided a nice solid punctuation mark on the season’s starting pitchers.

According to Baseball Reference among other sites, Dickey last made $525,000 on the books for the Twins.  Since he signed a minor league contract, I cannot find record of what he is making for the Mets this year.  However, I guarantee you it is not enough since he really has been the Mets showstopper this year.

For THIS year, operative words.  Of course, with his performance, Dickey has grown on the fans and thus, now talk has occurred with the usual — Should we lock him up now or later?

When I initially had the idea for this column, I had wanted to talk about the ramification of perhaps offering a multi-year deal for R.A. Dickey, and I was going to argue against it for obvious reasons. One is, we’ve learned that offering a multi-year deal, especially to a pitcher, is not a very good idea (especially based on a one-year performance).  Two is, whenever the Mets think that lightning will strike twice, we learn time and again it certainly never does.  Third is Dickey’s not getting any younger.  I know knuckleballers tend to go for years and years, but to give him a multi-year deal would be shortsighted based on that and that alone.

Of course, with the news that Johan Santana is not only out for the year with season-ending shoulder surgery, the type of surgery he is due to get has been problematic for pitchers regaining their form, this might change some of the dynamic for the Mets pitching staff in 2011.  Santana’s surgery is bad news not just for Santana but for the Mets as well.  However, this is the time to think about Dickey’s future, since I think that the Mets also have to think in terms of Johan Santana NOT being “JOHAN SANTANA” of old.

Dickey is historically a below-.500 pitcher.  However, if he gets two more wins on the season, he will be exactly at .500 lifetime.  I think it would be premature to give him anything long-term.  A one-year contract, maybe.  With an option.  And that’s IT.  Based on his historical performance, the Mets should not be offering anybody, regardless of what they are making now or how well they perform as a pitcher, anything long-term.

I won’t disagree he is worth every penny he is earning, if not more.  In fact, Dickey himself is so humble that he is not taking any of this for granted.  He was even quoted as saying: “I want to continue to have the mentality that I’m entitled to nothing. That mentality helps me work well and continue to be good at my craft.”  A “problem” like R.A. Dickey is a good one for the Mets to have, right?  After this season though, I think any long-term contract for any pitcher, even R.A. Dickey who has proven his worth, would be problematic.