Should M’s Make a Play for R.A. Dickey?

Dave · December 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Tonight, the Reds, Indians, and Diamondbacks completed a three-way trade that may very well have some real implications for the Mariners. The Reds sent shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius to Arizona, the D’Backs shipped Trevor Bauer to Cleveland, and the Indians sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati. There was some other stuff involved too, but for the Mariners purposes, those are the names that matter. And they mostly matter because Arizona finally landed the young shortstop they’ve been trying to acquire all winter.

Which means that they’re probably going to stop trying to trade Justin Upton, who was a primary target of the Texas Rangers. And that means that the Rangers are now more likely to re-sign Josh Hamilton, who is apparently a target of the Mariners. Welcome to Six Degrees of Shin-Soo Choo.

I know some people got fired up by the idea of the Mariners signing Josh Hamilton. And, who knows, they still might. But if Hamilton does decide to go back to Texas, and Arizona does decide to keep Upton, and just for the sake of argument, let’s say Nick Swisher doesn’t want to come to Seattle… what then? Besides the media freakout from people who don’t understand that a team can win without a 35 home run guy in right field, I mean? That would happen, but what else could the team do to improve if Hamilton, Swisher, and Upton were off the board?

How about go the other way entirely and acquire the one impact guy who we know for a fact is definitively available in trade? R.A. Dickey.

If you haven’t been following along, the reigning NL Cy Young winner has one year left on his contract, and he has been negotiating with the Mets on a new deal for a few months now. Most reports suggest that he’s asking for a two year extension at $13 million per year, which would begin in 2014, making the total commitment from the Mets $31 million over three years. The Mets apparently countered with a 2/16 extension, which would have paid him $21 million over those same three years, or about the same amount that Marco Scutaro just signed for. You can see why he hasn’t re-signed yet.

Apparently, the Mets recently increased their offer to 2/20, which equals out to 3/25 overall — Jeremy Guthrie money, so, yeah, still a steal for the Mets — and now they’re only $6 million apart, so it seems like something should get done. But, at the same time, the Mets have actively shopped Dickey around the league, and as Jon Heyman wrote today, they continue to make him available for the right offer even as they draw closer to a middle ground on an extension.

In fact, in that piece, Heyman notes that “at least a couple teams have offered one elite prospect for Dickey, but the Mets are looking for multiple players back in a package.”

The Mets want multiple young players in exchange for Dickey. Dickey is willing to sign a more-than-reasonable contract extension with the Mets, and you can probably infer that he’d be willing to sign a reasonable extension with a team that trades for him as well, especially if he had some comfort level with the organization and the area. You can probably see where I’m going with this.

All winter long, people have been trying to figure out what they can get for some kind of package involving Nick Franklin and James Paxton. First it was Justin Upton, then Alex Gordon, then Wil Myers… pretty much every interesting young outfielder in Major League Baseball has been traded for Nick Franklin and James Paxton on some Mariner blog at some point this off-season. Obviously, the Mariners couldn’t make any of those moves in real life, so Paxton and Franklin remain, even though they are somewhat superfluous to the organization given the other assets already in place here. It doesn’t mean the Mariners have to trade them, but you can bet that they probably would if given the chance to acquire an impact player.

And, while he’s not a power hitting right fielder, Dickey qualifies as an impact player. Over the last three years, Dickey has allowed 3.28 runs per nine innings. For comparison, Felix has allowed 3.31 runs per nine innings over the same time period. You have to account for the different leagues, different parks, and different number of innings, of course, but even after you do all that, Dickey still grades out as a top notch starting pitcher. By a runs allowed based WAR — knuckleballers are an exception to FIP, so you should use RA9-wins for Dickey instead of FIP-wins — Dickey has been worth +15 WAR over the last three years; Felix is at +18, or about one additional win per year.

Other guys around +15 RA9-wins from 2010-2012: Matt Cain, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, Tim Hudson, and Ian Kennedy. CC Sabathia is at +17. Cole Hamels and David Price join Felix in the +18 crowd. Put simply, Dickey has been similarly valuable to the best pitchers in baseball over the last three years. He simply was not a one year wonder. He’s been excellent for the past 600 innings, and is probably the best player on the market right now, even including Hamilton.

As we’ve noted many times before, the Mariners could use another starting pitcher. Blake Beavan is basically a replacement level scrub, and none of the team’s pitching prospects look like they’re ready to contribute in the big leagues. Replacing Beavan with R.A. Dickey would likely constitute a larger upgrade than bringing in any right fielder, even Hamilton, Swisher, or Upton.

And, if Dickey is willing to sign an extension for something along the lines of what he’s asking for the Mets, then he’s not really a Cliff Lee style one year rental. Instead, Dickey should be viewed as a guy under team control for the next three years at something in the $30 to $35 million range.

Yes, Dickey’s a 38-year-old, but he’s also a knuckleballer, and knucklers just don’t age like normal pitchers. They’re often just as effective in their late 30s and early 40s as they were earlier in their careers, and it’s not uncommon for a knuckleballer’s best years to come after traditional pitchers have long since retired. If we grade Dickey out as a +15 win pitcher over the last three years, then I’d expect he’ll be a +10 to +12 win pitcher over the next three years. You have to adjust the number of innings downwards, but it’s unlikely that Dickey’s knuckler is just going to stop getting big league hitters out any time soon.

So, if we see Dickey as a +4 win player in 2013, and then maybe a +3ish win pitcher in the following two seasons, he’d be a pretty huge steal at $30 to $35 million over those three years. And all of the sudden, giving up Paxton and Franklin for a 38-year-old pitcher doesn’t look so crazy.

In fact, because of his $5 million salary in 2013, the choice isn’t really between Dickey or a right fielder. The Mariners could easily afford to have both. Even if they sign Hamilton or Swisher, they’re likely to have enough payroll space left to squeeze Dickey into the budget if they so desired, and the combination of both Dickey and an impact right fielder could add something in the range of +7 to +10 WAR to the Mariners roster next year. If you’re super bullish on Dickey repeating his 2012 season, maybe even +12.

It would be a go-for-it kind of move, and probably wouldn’t go over all that well in Seattle, especially if it wasn’t paired with the signing of a “big bat”. But, Dickey would represent a pretty monstrous upgrade for the Mariners, and he is available, potentially at a price in talent that the team can afford. If the pieces the Mariners have to trade won’t land them a big offensive upgrade, perhaps those pieces can land them a big pitching upgrade. It’s at least worth kicking the tires on. And if the Mets told Jack tomorrow that they’d ship Dickey to Seattle for Paxton and Franklin, and that Dickey would sign the same extension with the Mariners that he wants from the Mets, I’d suggest pulling the trigger.

Wins are wins, no matter what form they come in. R.A. Dickey would make the Mariners a lot better in a hurry. If he can be had for something like Paxton and Franklin, then I hope Jack is at least exploring the option.

Comments

68 Responses to “Should M’s Make a Play for R.A. Dickey?”

  1. bavasiisgarbage on December 11th, 2012 9:23 pm

    One things I’ve always wondered about knuckle-ballers, and perhaps you could shed some light on this – even though he has put together 600 great innings, aren’t knuckleballers inherently volatile due to the difficultly of controlling the pitch? I would guess its easier to consistently locate a fastball/curve/change combo than a knuckle?

    That hypothesis could very well be wrong, but that’s why I would be hesitant giving up top prospects (despite their potential issues) for even a dominant knuckleballer

  2. thurston24 on December 11th, 2012 9:40 pm

    I swear it seems like the Mariners are always in the conversation for former players. It would be great to get Dickey but equally frustrating because he got away. It makes sense why he went away because he wasn’t that great at the time. This off season has been really crazy in a bad way since the Mariners are striking out on getting any interesting players. Hopefully, they get Swisher soon.

  3. henryv on December 11th, 2012 9:42 pm

    RA Dickey is interesting because I don’t know that we have anything to truly compare him to. Do we really have a comp for a pitcher that throws a knuckleball in the 80s?

  4. stuafoo on December 11th, 2012 10:09 pm

    I respect the argument very much–wins are wins, and at some point an organization has to make the decision that they’re close enough to the playoffs to go for it. I’ve loved the Ms for all of my 26 years, but I absolutely don’t love the idea of giving up two premier prospects for RA Dickey, no matter how good he may be when he’s 41.

    People may say, “look at what Baltimore did last year, anyone can win at any time” etc, but that’s just not a valid argument for me. Yes, the Os had a good year, but in all honesty who thinks they’re going to have anywhere near the same success next year? The better argument for me is, “look at what the Cardinals have done in the past decade,” or, “look at what the Braves did in the 90′s,” or, “look at what the Rays have done” (with their albeit thrifty ways).

    For me, with all their young talent and not terrible financial resources, the Mariners are close to being mentioned in the same breath as these teams, and mortgaging some of that future for Dickey just isn’t worth it. Yes, sometimes prospects don’t work out, and sometimes the known quantity is the best bet…but not this time.

  5. terryoftacoma on December 11th, 2012 10:11 pm

    Nothing that the Mariners have done so far this off season has surprised me. If the price is right adding a quality starter is always a plus. Dickey is a good one to get. If not the Dodgers have extra starters, although, not in Dickey’s class. Still it’s something to think about.

  6. rightwingrick on December 11th, 2012 10:12 pm

    ” Blake Beavan is basically a replacement level scrub…”

    Are you kidding? The guy is only 23 and already has pitched two years in the major leagues, with a 4.37 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP! He’s a former #1 draft pick who has hit 96-97 MPH earlier in his career, he’s 6’7″ and 240. Good grief, Beavan has hardly had a chance to develop, has held his own, and somehow he’s labeled as “basically a replacement level scrub”? Not with that kind of start to his career, he’s not.

    In 99 minor league games, Beavan was 3.65 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. So one might project we are likely to see better things from Beavan as he gets more Major League experiece. Over time, he could be a stud, a #3 or #4 guy who gets you 200 innings a year and keeps you in nearly every game. Think young Kevin Millwood, but perhaps better.

  7. lalo on December 11th, 2012 10:14 pm

    I would not give up Paxton and Franklin for Dickey, maybe Maurer, Pryor, Triunfel and Anthony Fernandez would be enough.

  8. shortbus on December 11th, 2012 10:19 pm

    Nobody is saying give up on Beavan, but the dude needs an out pitch. He was second only to Cliff Lee last year in BB/9, but he just can’t miss bats. Maybe try pitching with a squirrel in his britches so when he throws it does something surprising. When he can reach 8 K/9 in Tacoma he can have another shot.

    As for a Dickey extension (don’t say it) can we actually negotiate that prior to the trade at all? I didn’t think this was possible. I would do that trade if we got Dickey for three years, one at $5 million and two at the going market rate for four win pitchers.

  9. _David_ on December 11th, 2012 10:20 pm

    I would just love it if the Mariners traded for Dickey and signed Bourn, if only to see the complete freakout over the offense. The Iron Dome outfield would be awesome, and Dickey would provide extra entertainment value. I’m completely baffled by the Mets’ handling of this. Isn’t all the hype associated with the Cy Young usually the kind of thing that causes a team to overvalue a player? Does Alderson have some kind of theory about potential velocity decrease and Dickey’s specific knuckleball that causes him to think he’s hovering over a cliff?

  10. shortbus on December 11th, 2012 10:23 pm

    Correction to my stat on Beavan…he was second at one point late in the season in BB/9, but finished third among pitchers with at least 150 IP behind Lee and Colon. But Colon was a big, fat cheater so my point still stands…I think.

  11. justinh on December 11th, 2012 10:48 pm

    The price to “win now” in MLB is going up because so many teams are in contention with the 2nd wild card. The price to acquire free agents has gone up dollar-wise and the price to acquire via trade has gone up in the amount of prospect talent a team must give up.

    With the innovation of twitter, MLB on every device, the amount of cash being handed out in tv deals, and the winter meetings garnering more attention than the World Series, teams are feeling pressure to compete now. A prospect is not worth the same as it was two years ago. I would argue we can expect the value of prospects to be .80 cents on the dollar in this new paradigm.

    Will the value of prospects ever be as high as they once were? I’d expect the value in prospects to soar once the TV contract money begins to run dry. With the 2nd WC spot and the success of the A’s and Orioles teams are feeling heat and dreaming big. You couple that with TV money and the new age of “I want it now” and we are definitely seeing a new paradigm in baseball.

  12. misstraknowitall on December 11th, 2012 10:52 pm

    bavasiisgarbage on December 11th, 2012 9:23 pm

    “aren’t knuckleballers inherently volatile due to the difficultly of controlling the pitch? I would guess its easier to consistently locate a fastball/curve/change combo than a knuckle?”

    That’s what makes Dickey unique. He’s learned to control the location of the pitch. Only 16 starters had a lower BB/9 last year, and over the past three years only 19 have had a lower BB/9. He has enough control to move the ball on both sides of the plate and up the ladder, which is unheard-of among knuckleballers. He really has reinvented the pitch.

  13. MrZDevotee on December 11th, 2012 11:20 pm

    Wow, never even considered this move, but for $10 million a year, it’s almost a no-brainer. To the point you’d almost think we must ALREADY be in talks with them. You’re getting wins (via WAR) for about $2 million? Count me in.

    King
    Dickey
    Vargas
    Iwakuma
    (winner of “everyone else”/young guy competition)

    That’s a SUPER solid rotation.

    And at $10 million, no reason not to get Swisher too. And if that’s in the works already, would the Mets be into Franklin Gutierrez? Which would mean we could go after Bourn…

    This Dickey thing has some legs to it as a great idea. (And maybe that “marine air” would help make the knuckleball move even more?)

  14. Westside guy on December 11th, 2012 11:21 pm

    I’ve always liked knuckleballers, so I’d love to see him come back to the Mariners.

  15. MrZDevotee on December 11th, 2012 11:26 pm

    bavasiisgarbage
    re: knuckler accuracy

    I saw an interesting story not too long ago about what makes Dickey unique as a knuckleballer– and it’s that he throws his in the 80s (mph) which is quite high for a knuckleballer. And, yet he still somehow has excellent movement to it.

    This also makes him more accurate with it, as the ball has less time to leave the plate area.

    At least that’s what the story was theorizing about his success.

  16. frazfan on December 11th, 2012 11:37 pm

    The biggest problem is not getting Dickey but who is going to catch him? Montero, Jasso? I don’t think so. Clubs with knuckleballers often carry a catcher with defensive ability and a very big glove. It wouldn’t necessarily be very difficult to find this defensive gem, but it’s a problem.

  17. Thirteen on December 11th, 2012 11:42 pm

    “I would not give up Paxton and Franklin for Dickey, maybe Maurer, Pryor, Triunfel and Anthony Fernandez would be enough.”

    I would not give up Maurer, Pryor, Triunfel and Fernandez for Dickey. Maybe Peguero, Sucre, Baron, LaFromboise, Shipers, Carraway, Castillo, Burgoon and Elias would be enough.

    Do you see the problem here?

  18. jwgrandsalami on December 11th, 2012 11:46 pm

    In the euphoria over finally being rid of Bill Bavasi in 2008, two players discarded by Jack Zduriencik shortly after his arrival in Seattle have haunted the Mariners. RA Dickey is one, of course, but the other was Erik O’Flaherty, who has been one of the best relievers in the National League the last four years with Atlanta.

    Was there really nobody left in the organization that could be trusted by Jack and Co. to tell him which so-callled fringe players were worth keeping around? Disposable flotsam like Jamie Burke, Roy Corcoran and Josh Wilson were kept on the 40-man roster that entire winter while Dickey and O’Flaherty were taken off the 40-man and tossed overboard.

    I haven’t given a lot of thought to whether the M’s should trade for Dickey, but I just thought it was interesting to point out what exactly the M’s gained when they decided they no longer needed RA Dickey.

  19. justinh on December 12th, 2012 12:10 am

    Hey Jack wanted to do things his way and I do not blame him for getting rid of Dickey. Lets be honest Dickey was not a great pitcher when he was here.

    I was puzzled by the O’Flaherty disposal but you cannot rip JZ for disposing of a LH reliever when he wanted to bring in some of his own guys. Every new GM whom has no previous ties with the organization does a lot of house cleaning.

    The Morse trade for Langerhans is the one I think Jack really messed up on. But I like having a GM who will take risks in that situation and try to strike gold.

    Listen to the Zdurienzik interview on 710 tonight by going to mynorthwest.com. It is a 15 minute interview and Jack says some nice things I like to hear.

  20. PackBob on December 12th, 2012 12:25 am

    I would love to see Dickey back on the Mariners and have a solid 1-2. Anything they do that adds wins would be good, but I’d surely like to have a Mariners player that can hit well. For entertainment value. Because other teams have players that can hit well. Why can’t the Mariners have one?

    It’s not a matter of understanding wins, it’s simply a desire to see a really good hitter in a Mariners’ uniform.

  21. Celadus on December 12th, 2012 12:27 am

    Some knuckleballers like it when the wind is blowing out, not in. They say that when the wind is blowing out the ball moves better. I don’t know how much of a consensus there is among knuckleball pitchers, however.

    Does anybody happen to know what the prevailing wind patterns are in Safeco as compared to the Mets stadium? Does anybody know if Dickey has a preference?

    The answers to those questions could make a difference as to how much the Mariners should give up in a trade or even if such a trade should be made at all.

  22. egreenlaw9 on December 12th, 2012 12:32 am

    @PackBob. I have to assume you mean not in the past…

    But Montero, Ackley, Jaso, Seagar… All a pleasure to watch hit. They may not be Gar, Tino, Wilson/Bone, or Blowers yet, but give it a year or two – they’ll get close.

  23. jwgrandsalami on December 12th, 2012 12:49 am

    Justin — I heard today’s Jack Z interview earlier. Wondering what it was exactly that you liked to hear. What I heard was that the team isn’t ready to offer long-term contracts, that they might “eventually” be in that position, but not now. I also heard Jack say that it was unfortunate that most free agents this year were going to sign with the team offering the most money.

    On what planet does Jack think that desirable free agents are going to sign with the sad-sack Seattle Mariners if another team is offering more money? This year’s strategy seems to be to talk to a lot of players, have the Mariners name out there connected to a bunch of guys and then make lowball offers to a few of them with the intention apparently of signing nobody. Josh Hamilton and Nick Swisher are not going to be bargains. If the M’s really are making short-term lowball offers for those guys, they’re wasting their time, they’re wasting the players’ time and they’re wasting the time of the few remaining fans this team has.

    This is a critical winter to impress upon Felix Hernandez that the Mariners are serious about trying to win, yet while the Mariners claim they have more money to spend, they don’t seem inclined to make any impact moves.

    While Felix is a nice guy and has said all the right things about wanting to stay here and hasn’t complained like Ken Griffey, Jr about the team not surrounding him with talent, I think the M’s are making a huge mistake if they think he’s going to sign another contract extension without some evidence that this team is going to be a contender.

  24. meloyellow15 on December 12th, 2012 1:02 am

    Along the same lines as Dickey, I think Edwin Jackson would make lots of sense at this point.

  25. Rusty on December 12th, 2012 2:28 am

    Thanks, Dave! I was actually thinking about whether a Dickey acquisition made sense for the Mariners. Now I know.

  26. maqman on December 12th, 2012 2:39 am

    The internal air flow in Safeco is from left field toward home plate, which is one factor moving the fences should not alter.
    If the M’s get Dickey they will need a catcher who can handle the knuckler.
    I’ve always liked Dickey and didn’t like seeing him traded away. I agree with Dave that this is a smart play. I can’t fathom why the Mets are so cheap about signing the reigning Cy Young winner but we should take advantage of their ignorance.

  27. SonOfZavaras on December 12th, 2012 3:26 am

    It’s inherently hard to put “knuckleballer” and “stability” in the same sentence…but R.A. Dickey would certainly make me feel a little more comfortable with the rotation.

    The RedSox used Tim Wakefield to shore up their rotation for years…we could definitely repeat that tactic.

    I can think of worse things for our team to have than a Felix!-Dickey-Vargas-Iwakuma-Ramirez rotation.

    That rotation would keep us in most games, and I think Dickey’s a better-than-average bet to top 200 IP.

    One thing I’m really not fathoming. We had Dickey a few years ago- and IIRC, he was okay but not all that great as a knuckleball-throwing starting pitcher.

    Now he’s winning Cy Youngs. What the hell happened (and no jokes about “he took off a Mariner uniform, that’s what happens”!)?

    I will say that I think the move would be a tough sell to John Q. Fanbase.

  28. Johnny Slick on December 12th, 2012 3:54 am

    To be fair to Jack Z, every other team in the league opted out of Dickey as well. 4 years ago the guy was still a 34 year old hanging on in the majors with a goofy pitch that it’s hard to evaluate because so few other pitchers throw it.

    I’d love to see Dickey come back, myself. He could be the new Jamie Moyer.

  29. ivan on December 12th, 2012 4:38 am

    I agree with Johnny Slick. Dickey was OK, but not great, when he pitched here last, and no one could have predicted that he would master the knuckler like he has.

    In the same vein, I’m getting a little tired of the whining over the Morse trade. When Morse was here he had no power, and he was a defensive liability no matter what position he “tried” to play. Casey Kotchman, Jack Cust, and yes, Ryan Langerhans, were better players than Morse was at the time the M’s traded him. His emergence as a decent hitter has been about as inexplicable as Chone Figgins’ cratering as an effective player.

    Get Dickey? Absolutely! Go for it. And if they can get away with not trading Paxton for him, more better. Take what the opposition gives you. If the market, whatever it is, won’t make the hitter the M’s need available, then load up on pitching if that’s what’s available.

  30. vetted_coach on December 12th, 2012 4:43 am

    What a shock! The Mariners won’t be able to acquire anyone on their list, but they could re-pay for another guy they disposed of years ago. Keep the cutting-edge drivel coming.

    Predictably, the Z interview contains the same tired, lame, gutless BS we’ve been hearing since, well, forever.

    No wonder everyone continues to participate in this mindless charade of empty speculation. Absent any true vision or substantive strategy, it’s the only remaining game to play.

    The Mariners are a sad, pathetic exercise in futility. No wonder some fans are prone to “root” for their continued failure: it’s well-deserved payback – the natural consequence of continual abject insincerity, ineptitude, and negligence. They will always field a team outmatched at six of nine positions.

    Enjoy.

  31. ripperlv on December 12th, 2012 4:55 am

    I’ve had R.A. Dickey on my mind for awhile. He would do alot to make a tough rotation. Paxson/Franklin I’d do in a minute. I think Dickey may require his own catcher, that is the bad part. If Paxson/Franklin don’t get traded….maybe things happen for a reason. I’m not giving up on JZ yet, no matter what some pessimistic fans may mumble.

  32. eponymous coward on December 12th, 2012 7:01 am

    http://mynorthwest.com/?sid=2150785&nid=651

    Wow, that sounds like a lot of talking people’s expectations down.

    If it’s April and this team’s payroll is $66 million… that would put them firmly in the Oakland/Tampa realm of “we’re cheap bastards”.

  33. justinh on December 12th, 2012 7:32 am

    JW and everyone else I’d love to hear your opinions on the new paradigm in baseball and how it’s affecting the M’s. I think a guy like R.A. Dickey makes sense because of the situation outlined below.

    There is no debate the “Price to Play” is going up throughout Major League Baseball. The addition of a 2nd Wild Card means more teams have a shot at the Postseason. Lucrative TV deals are allowing more teams to spend freely. Finally the new age of Twitter, MLB on every device, and the Winter Meetings being more popular than the World Series is creating a “Must Win-Now” or “Make Big-Splash” era in baseball.

    With the advent of a 2nd Wild Card there is a high demand for immediate help, coupled with a lower supply. The 1995 season saw the addition of the Wild Card, and without it the Mariners miraculous run may not have happened. Although the Mariners ended up winning the AL West, it was the Wild Card that allowed GM Woody Woodward to add Andy Benes, Vince Coleman, and Norm Charlton. The Mariners were 14 games behind the Angels in July, but they were within reach of the Wild Card. A 2nd Wild Card means even more teams will be in position to compete and less will be likely to sell.

    The Information Age is making teams feel pressure to compete now. Coupled with the new TV deals that allow more teams to spend and compete, along with the 2nd Wild Card, a prospect is not worth the same value as it was two years ago. In this new paradigm, I would argue we have seen the value of prospects go down to .80 cents on the dollar compared to just a couple years ago.

    Will the value of prospects ever be as high as they once were? I’d expect the value of prospects to up once the TV money begins to run dry. Add in the fact that many teams will get burned mortgaging their future for immediate success, and the value of prospects will soar. But until then this new paradigm means it is a sellers market, as evident from the Royals-Rays deal.

    What does this mean for the Mariners? It is probably THE WORST time in MLB history to be buyers. It is a supply/demand issue and there are very few teams willing to give up proven Major Leaguers for prospects. I applaud Jack for not making a “big splash” to appease fans and out of his own self preservation.

    In the interview Zdurienzik brought up a great point that prospects are valued much higher after some Major League experience, even if they perform poorly. Trevor Bauer was awful but teams consider him more MLB ready than Hultzen simply because he has been there. This is not the time to deal a bunch of young talent knocking on the door unless it is for a guy like R.A. Dickey who won’t cost both Paxton and Walker.

    Look I want the Mariners to go out and get a big bat. I would love to take a shot at Hamilton for 4/100 but that just isn’t realistic. I would offer Nick Swisher 4/60 or even 5/70 but I don’t know if Swisher will accept that. It is not the right time to trade prospects and in reality between now and July is probably a good time to possibly deal a Jaso, Seager, Vargas, or bullpen arms. If Jack could get young hitters who could have an immediate impact at the Major League level I’d be all for it. Maybe David Freese gets injured for the year and St Louis needs another starter. The M’s could probably land a potential superstar bat like Oscar Tavares for Seager, Vargas, and another B+ prospect like Maurer.

    In the end I just think the M’s need to wait one more year to trade any of our young talent. Their value will be much higher after some big league seasoning and the club will also know exactly what their needs are. I’m not saying close the door on Swisher or Bourn or Hamilton, but it is not the time to overpay for a guy when nearly every team is looking to add immediate talent and has the money to do so. I believe we will gradually see some teams begin to temper the “Win Now” mode over the next couple years and Jack will have better opportunities to strike then. Let’s not throw out the talent we have acquired over the last four years for a one or two year rental.

  34. wetzelcoatl on December 12th, 2012 7:48 am

    I do worry a little that Dickey may not be quite as ageless as some other knuckleballers because of the velocity he has on his, but at the same time for 3/30 one more great season and he will have earned nearly all his money, so I would be totally fine with risking it.

  35. eponymous coward on December 12th, 2012 8:54 am

    In the end I just think the M’s need to wait one more year to trade any of our young talent. Their value will be much higher after some big league seasoning and the club will also know exactly what their needs are. I’m not saying close the door on Swisher or Bourn or Hamilton, but it is not the time to overpay for a guy when nearly every team is looking to add immediate talent and has the money to do so. I believe we will gradually see some teams begin to temper the “Win Now” mode over the next couple years and Jack will have better opportunities to strike then. Let’s not throw out the talent we have acquired over the last four years for a one or two year rental.

    So, to sum up: winning baseball yesterday (1995 and 2001, weren’t those great? Can we milk them a few more times at the gate?), winning baseball tomorrow (Next year we’ll try harder with expanding payroll and putting together a winning team, pus we’ll have prospects to deal! We promise! Come to the stadium in 2013 though, we’ll hold the football for you, Charlie Brown!), but never winning baseball today.

    This refrain was getting old in winter 2010-2011. Two years later it’s not getting any newer.

    The fact of the matter is this team isn’t good enough: the corpse of Jason Bay’s career (basically, we now have the OFer version of Figgins), a fragile Guti, Smoak’s 1300 PA’s of MLB futility so far and Montero’s uneven start to his career make it pretty clear that the 2013 Mariners as constituted aren’t a particularly good team, and I think “maybe if we’re lucky we’ll be .500 four years into the rebuild” is a pretty low bar for a good GM- maybe Zduriencik isn’t one.

    If the Mariners are now Oakland North, I would at least have the management and ownership tell us they’re cheap bastards (let’s give Beane some credit here: they’re honest about that), and money isn’t ever going to be used to make the team better, and it’s time to settle for Jack’s regular trips around to see what people leave on the curb for Large Item Pickup Day, plus the farm system.

  36. bubba_gump on December 12th, 2012 8:58 am

    Think how awesome it will be to watch Felix pitch on Friday and lose 1-0 then watch Dickey on Saturday lose 2-1! Not a fan of the idea. I can’t buy into “wins are wins” until the Mariners start scoring on a more consistent basis.

  37. ireportyoudecide on December 12th, 2012 9:06 am

    Why would you give up prospects and $$ for Dickey when you can get someone like Jackson for just $$?

    I have a bad feeling that the Mariners were just playing with us and have every intention of having a payroll of under $80,000,000 next year.

  38. MrZDevotee on December 12th, 2012 9:40 am

    VettedCurmudgeon-

    “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!”

    “These baseball teams today, they think they’re SO smart… I used to walk through the snow to get to the stadium, uphill, both ways! When we had to pass the EYEBALL test, no dang sabermechanical-thingy-mi-wigs”

    “This Z guy is a pussy… He would have never made it in the South Pacific back during the War!”

    (yawn)
    Got any more advice for us, Coach?

  39. amnizu on December 12th, 2012 10:08 am

    My problem with Dickey is he is clearly trying to cash in on his Cy Young season after having multiple years at replacement level or league average. There is nothing wrong with this approach, I just don’t want the Mariners to be the team laying out the cash.

    IMHO, the Mariners should pass on Dickey and the Mets are smart to evaluate him more on his whole career as opposed to just his 2012 performance, which is that of a replacement level or once he moved to the NL slightly over league average player with one stellar career year.

  40. Paul B on December 12th, 2012 10:18 am

    My problem with Dickey is he is clearly trying to cash in on his Cy Young season after having multiple years at replacement level or league average.

    Dave addressed this at Fangraphs recently.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/r-a-dickey-and-the-myth-of-one-great-year/

  41. amnizu on December 12th, 2012 10:32 am

    Fact: RA Dickey has never posted a higher than 2.8 WAR other than 2012. Or slightly over league average

    Fact: RA Dickey was mostly a replacement level player until his move to the NL in 2010, with one exception of 2003 10 seasons ago.

    Fact: The Settle Mariners play in the American League

    Fact: RA Dickey is negotiating after his highest career season totals even though he has a standing contract because it gives him the best negotiation position.

    Does RA Dickey make sense for the Mets valued at a 2.5 WAR player, somewhere around 12 to 14 Million, perhaps he does. Does he make sense for an AL team at that number? In my opinion no, there is too much inherent risk of him reverting to his pre 2010 performance at that price range when you consider his whole career not just his time with the Mets.

  42. Paul B on December 12th, 2012 10:34 am

    Is it common to trade 2 highly regarded prospects to obtain 1 major league starter? Is that roughly the going rate?

  43. JasonJ on December 12th, 2012 10:36 am

    Doesn’t appear JZ is keen on dealing or, more precisely, overpaying with any of our top prospects based upon that MyNorthwest interview, which means no R.A. Dickey or Justin Upton.

    Hamilton is a longshot now that Texas struck out on Grienke and Upton. Swisher is getting mentioned with much bigger clubs as of late. Bourn appears to be the only one that may be ripe for the taking and that’s if he actually wants to play for the M’s.

    If JZ is not willing to overpay with prospects and Bourn is not into playing here, that pretty much leaves Jason Bay and trying to land one of the remaining #3 starters on the market.

    I’m okay with not being cavalier with trading prospects as long as we had a plan to hit free agency hard with specific targets in mind. I don’t truly know how aggressive we’ve been with trying to sign these guys but it sure comes across that we are jumping around in the background on everybody (“hey Mr. Swisher, we like you too!”) hoping someone falls in our lap. That’s a huge gamble and so far it doesn’t seem to be working.

  44. goat on December 12th, 2012 11:24 am

    So a 70-75 win team trading top prospects for 1 year of a 38 year old premier pitcher is a good idea, while a 70-75 win team trading top prospects for 2 years of a 29 year old premier pitcher is the worst thing that happened this offseason. If there are differences between these scenarios, they are certainly much subtler than the way people have been talking about them.

  45. Wolfman on December 12th, 2012 11:50 am

    I’m with Thurston24 re: all the former M’s the M’s are talking about trading for…R.A. Dickey, Cabrera, Choo (too late, I know…but the talks were there), Morse…

    Now to re-acquire Dickey, prospects will have to be dealt away. It just doesn’t seem like this team does anything intelligent. This all feels like another Mariners set-up of ‘Just believe and buy those tickets, beer and garlic fries!’ I hope I’m wrong, but it just feels right now like the same ‘ol stuff. Swisher would be a very nice addition and a great start, imho. I just can’t see this organization pulling the trigger. I hope Z proves me wrong before this is over.

  46. TumwaterMike on December 12th, 2012 12:08 pm

    aren’t knuckleballers inherently volatile due to the difficultly of controlling the pitch? I would guess its easier to consistently locate a fastball/curve/change combo than a knuckle?

    I don’t know but I’ve heard that his knuckler is harder then most and therefore easier to control.

  47. IPAinspector on December 12th, 2012 12:22 pm

    Since The Mets are obviously undervaluing Dickey, is there any chance we could trade some of our non-frontline prospects for him? Maybe they’d like Peguero’s awesome power, or Beaven’s….I don’t know, gritty competitiveness?

  48. MrGenre on December 12th, 2012 12:53 pm

    I’ve been way on board this train for a while, so thanks for reassuring me that I’m not (completely) crazy, Dave.

    But doesn’t this line of thought absolutely require us to get a catcher who can catch the ball? Can Jaso handle a knuckler? Maybe it’s not as big a deal as I’m making it out to be, but isn’t part of wooing a knuckleballer providing a competent battery?

  49. bookbook on December 12th, 2012 1:27 pm

    No one in their right mind would give you Myers for Paxton and Franklin. If we’d traded those two for Shields, we’d rightly be ecstatic.

    Also, it isn’t just about the win level. The M’s are closer to building a playoff contender than the Royals were at the beginning of the offseason.

    I’d do the Dickey deal with a 72-hour window to get the 2/$26 extension signed, personally.

    I also agree that getting Hamilton or Swisher or trading for established bat with thump remains priority 1.

    Add Dickey and Swisher and Hafner and this team feels like a real competitor, on a quite reasonable budget.

  50. Wolfman on December 12th, 2012 2:02 pm

    “Add Dickey and Swisher and Hafner and this team feels like a real competitor, on a quite reasonable budget.”

    Now I would consider that a VERY good off-season.

  51. Slats on December 12th, 2012 2:33 pm

    FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Mariners have engaged in “preliminary discussions” with the Tigers about a trade for outfielder Brennan Boesch.

  52. charliebrown on December 12th, 2012 2:47 pm

    FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Mariners have engaged in “preliminary discussions” with the Tigers about a trade for outfielder Brennan Boesch.

    Gag. Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

  53. Badbadger on December 12th, 2012 2:51 pm

    “Are you kidding? The guy is only 23 and already has pitched two years in the major leagues, with a 4.37 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP! He’s a former #1 draft pick who has hit 96-97 MPH earlier in his career, he’s 6’7? and 240.”

    Plenty of #1 draft picks suck, and he no longer throws that hard. His size doesn’t really mean anything. Era and WHIP aren’t very good measures of skill.

    Beavan’s career xFIP is 4.79. More importantly, he really really can’t strike anyone out; career k/9 of 3.93. All his pitches are hitable, and he doesn’t get ground balls. He’s been made to look better than he is by pitching at Safeco in front of the M’s defense, but it’s hard to see where any improvement might come from. It’s not like he’s got deadly stuff he needs to learn to command, he’s got plus command and mediocre stuff.

  54. globalalpha on December 12th, 2012 2:59 pm

    On Hafner — doesn’t brining in Jason Bay make the acquisition of a DH-only type unlikely? I have a hard time seeing them both make the 25 man roster. Or if so does that mean we’d have to see Bay manning LF? Yikes.

  55. Mariners35 on December 12th, 2012 3:13 pm

    So, you don’t think Jaso should play everyday, and don’t think Montero is a catcher, and know that Zunino is a half season or more away… yet you want to bring in a knuckleballer as the significant offseason upgrade and instant #2 pitcher.

    ?

  56. JasonJ on December 12th, 2012 3:22 pm

    “FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Mariners have engaged in “preliminary discussions” with the Tigers about a trade for outfielder Brennan Boesch.”

    Haha. Our FO really does not like Casper Wells. Let’s just trade him for some bobblehead parts and get it over with.

  57. stevemotivateir on December 12th, 2012 3:57 pm

    @Mariners35

    A case was already made for Jaso to be the starting catcher. Guess you missed it.

    Moving on, you really think anyone here is less serious about landing Swisher or Hamilton, or that Dickey would be a priority over either of them? This post was simply an idea for an alternative way to improve, in case none of the desirable bats were obtainable.

    By the way, Dickey would be the instant number two pitcher. He didn’t win the Cy Young for sucking.

  58. charliebrown on December 12th, 2012 5:31 pm

    A case was already made for Jaso to be the starting catcher. Guess you missed it

    Yes, but catching a knuckleball was not part of that analysis.

    Guess you missed it too.

  59. msfanmike on December 12th, 2012 9:55 pm

    I hope the Brennan Boesch rumor is simply a bluff to any prospective FA that there could be one less available team with money to spend interested in them. Then again, with that quality of bluff, someone will most certainly “call” it.

    Brennan Boesch … does this team really need another 5th outfielder candidate?

  60. stevemotivateir on December 13th, 2012 6:11 am

    “Yes, but catching a knuckleball was not part of that analysis.

    Guess you missed it too.”

    Oh, my bad. I didn’t realize that there was a special kind of catcher just for knuckleball pitchers, or that the other four starters, and twelve men in the pen, will all be knuckleballers as well next season.

    Yes, that changes everything. Thanks for pointing that out. Jaso clearly can’t be the starter now.

  61. Westside guy on December 13th, 2012 7:37 am

    On the Hot Stove League show a couple days ago, Wedge says he sees Montero (!) as his main catcher. He also said he’d like the Mariners to add another catcher because of… if I understood his point correctly… “not wanting to have both Jaso and Montero unavailable for late game situations” or somesuch.

    It sounded suspiciously like he wanted to keep at least one of his best bats on the bench most games, in case he needed a pinch hitter. I really really really hope I misunderstood him, because I’d hope even a really old school guy would realize the relative values of a good hitter getting 4-5 trips to the plate every game versus saving him for one possible late game at-bat.

  62. TumwaterMike on December 13th, 2012 9:19 am

    FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Mariners have engaged in “preliminary discussions” with the Tigers about a trade for outfielder Brennan Boesch.

    I think Jack’s just kicking tires wherever he can to see what pops up.

  63. kinickers77 on December 13th, 2012 11:06 am

    What the heck??? Angels close to deal with Hamilton????

  64. ThanatosK on December 13th, 2012 11:35 am

    Ha ha, being reported as signed now. 5 year deal with some talk of using Peter Bourjos or Trumbo in a trade to get RA Dickey too. Curse those damn Angels.

  65. deadball on December 13th, 2012 1:59 pm

    A comment on the catching issue from The Wall Street Journal, regarding La Russa’s decision to start Cain instead of Dickey with Posey catching:

    “Because the knuckleball is prone to sudden, erratic changes in trajectory, it often eludes the gloves of catchers who aren’t experienced with it, sending them scurrying after the ball. And because Dickey is the only knuckleballer in the majors, most catchers have never caught it.

    Former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who struggled with Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball, once likened the experience to “trying to catch a fly with a chopstick.” Even Doug Mirabelli, who became Wakefield’s personal catcher in Boston, would lose sleep fretting over the pitch.

    “It could be potentially embarrassing for the catcher if he’s never done it before,” Mirabelli said. “He might be able to pick it up pretty fast, but it took me a while, and it took quite a few guys a while.”

    Dickey said the catching situation has been “overthought,” and pointed to his exceptional command of the knuckleball this season. He has thrown 70% of his pitches for strikes, the highest rate among N.L. starting pitchers, and has thrown only one wild pitch.”

  66. brjohnso on December 13th, 2012 3:10 pm

    Ummm… not to burst anyone’s ballon here, but do the M’s have anyone that can catch a knuckleball?

  67. stevemotivateir on December 13th, 2012 5:39 pm

    ^ Yeah, anyone behind the plate with a glove. Seriously, that’s the last thing anyone should worry about.

  68. dantheman on December 13th, 2012 7:17 pm

    “and Arizona does decide to keep Upton, and just for the sake of argument, let’s say Nick Swisher doesn’t want to come to Seattle… what then? Besides the media freakout from people who don’t understand that a team can win without a 35 home run guy in right field”

    Speaking of facts, Upton has never hit 35 home runs in a season (he’s actually hit less than 20 in 2 out of the last 3 seasons) and Swisher has hit as many as 35 home runs exactly once – 6 years ago. He’s played the last 4 years in New York with over 600 PA each year and hasn’t hit 30. I think people in the “media” would probably look that up.

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