The time to strike is now. It’s been a long 20 some odd years since the perennial heavyweights of the AL East have been as vulnerable as they appear heading into 2013 and the Blue Jays are aware of this.
With players like Bautista and Encarnacion in the prime of their careers while others in Lawrie and Arencibia are only beginning to come in to their own as formidable MLB players,Toronto features one of the strongest cores in the American League. Looking to build around this core, the acquisitions of Reyes, Johnson, Buehrle, and Cabrera have bolstered a Toronto club that finished an injury riddled 2012 campaign with a mere 73 wins.
Few question marks remain as Toronto looks to 2013, one of them being the starting rotation. The Blue Jays have been vocal regarding their search for another starter and the big name that’s on everybody’s mind is Mets stand out R.A. Dickey.
In Dickey, Toronto could receive a pitcher coming off what has been his strongest overall season since making his debut in 2001. The 37 year old Knuckle-baller went 20-7 over 34 games with the Mets in 2012 en route to securing his first All Star appearance and the National Leagues Cy Young Award. Dickey tossed a career high 233.2 innings striking out 230 batters while managing to walk a mere 54 batters in the process.
In a way, Dickey pulled a reverse Darren Oliver with the same club that turned the one time starter in to a lights out reliever in 2006.
After beginning his career as a reliever/spot starter, Dickey became a full time lock in the rotation when he signed on with the Mets in 2009. The transition to the starting rotation paid off for the then 35 year old veteran.
Despite falling victim to poor run support, Dickey has amassed a 39-28 record to go with an outstanding Earned Run Average of 2.95 over 94 games with New York. A Free Agent in 2014, the Mets are looking to cash in on their top pitcher while securing a much needed Catcher and MiLB prospects.
The deal makes sense for Toronto as they are in win now mode, however in order to make this trade happen, the Blue Jays are going to have to unload some of their top tier prospects. Names like d’Arnaud, Snydergaard and Buck have been tossed around with Thole and another MiLB prospect coming back with Dickey however at this point (Saturday evening), nothing has been confirmed.
Although it means absolutely nothing, historically Knuckleball pitchers haven’t had a lot of success in a Blue Jay uniform (think Phil Niekro and Tom Candiotti). Pitching at Skydome, Dickey has 2-2 record in 5 games while sporting an ERA of 6.55 however that is over a span of 22 Innings and shouldn’t really be anything to worry about.
One concern could be the fact that Dickey has allowed 4 Home Runs over those 22 innings in Toronto. Another Kunckler (Tim Wakefield) also had a difficult time keeping the ball in the yard while pitching in Toronto as he allowed 13 Home Runs over 28 appearances at Skydome…. Take it for what it is.
At the end of the day, the Blue Jays have to make the most of this opportunity they have in front of them and taking a risk on burning a few prospects in order to land a pitcher like Dickey (even if it is only for 1 year) may be exactly what it takes to solidify their starting rotation.
It’s interesting to note that should the Blue Jays sign Dickey, 4 out of the 5 potential starting pitchers for 2013 will have made appearances as All Stars during their career. Brandon Morrow ends up as the odd man out…. Morrow’s a pretty good pitcher and likely would have made 2012’s midsummer classic if he hadn’t fallen victim to injury.
That’s one hell of a rotation.