New York Mets: Should They Extend Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey?

Sunday August 26th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: If there’s one compelling story that will represent the 2012 MLB season, it’s R.A Dickey’s story. At first, he was your normal fastball based type pitcher, but after finding minimal success with the normal approach, he switched gears and became one of the few knuckleballers in baseball. And the approach has worked. Now, the question that the Mets are facing is whether or not they extend him seeing that he can test open waters once the season concludes. Although, Dickey peaked at a much older age than most pitchers, as he’s currently 37 years-old.

What is he worth?

Dickey isn’t going to receive a massive contract considering his age and the knuckleball approach. Although, an annual salary of $8-10 million isn’t out of the question. Perhaps he signs a deal worth even more. However, the length of the contract isn’t going to push more than four years. Even a four-year extension could be too long for Dickey who will be 40 in nearly three years.

Many people overlook how consistent Dickey has been over the past three years. Sure, this season gets all the attention, but in reality, he’s been very good since 2010. Starting two years ago, he’s totaled exactly a 3.00 ERA which ranks tenth in the N.L. Granted, the jump in strikeouts might have something to do with the increased attention, but he’s been the same consistent pitcher. His K/9 rate of 9.3/9, is the seventh best mark in the majors. Also, his FIP (3.10) checks in as the 11th best mark in baseball. While wins aren’t merely as respected as much anymore with the array of advanced stats available, he’s tied for the National League lead in that department as well with 16 wins.

Dickey, though, has been nothing but average in the second half. He’s taken the back seat to Johnny Cueto in the Cy Young race, and he’s not eating up as many innings as he was in the first half of the season. Granted, no one really thought that he was going to keep going at the pace he was in his first 17 starts when he posted a 2.40 ERA. During that span, opposing batters were hitting just a meek .203 off him as well. Yet, in nine games since the break (including one relief appearance), his stats have been rather pedestrian. At least pedestrian for his standards. In those nine appearances, he boasts an average 3.74 ERA. Opposing batters have also hit a bit better off him, hitting .258 off Dickey.

From a general standpoint, he’s fatigued and his loopy knuckleball isn’t as deceptive as it was in the early portion of the season. Obviously, all pitchers go through occasional dry spells, but since Dickey relies on a knuckleball, it’s a tad harder for him to get away with often mistakes. Home runs weren’t a common occurrence in the first half, however, in the second half a few more fly balls have found the seats. In 17 first half starts he yielded just nine home runs. In a nine second half appearances, he’s surrendered eight homers. So yes, fatigue and a few more mistakes are the factors in his mediocre second half. He’s human.

The one item of order than Dickey has that’s working in his favor, is his longevity. Knuckleballers can withstand more years than the flamethrowers simple because of the effort difference. Just look at Tim Wakefield. He pitched somewhat effectively until he was 44 years-old. Dickey can do the same thing which might make signing a long-term contract a bit easier than it would be if he was a fastball based guy.

That contract might not come from New York, though. The Mets need a new formula. And if they are going to extend anyone, it’s most likely going to be David Wright. Wright is a cornerstone piece, Dickey isn’t. Plus, the Mets don’t have a ton of money to play with. Sure, Dickey’s $5 million buyout isn’t breaking the bank, but his $300K buyout tag might be the route to take. Why? Zack Wheeler is on the way. Wheeler could easily take Dickey’s rotation spot, and the Mets would save a good chunk of money.

Is Dickey going to help the Mets win in the future? No. And the Mets are shooting to contend within the next couple of years, and Dickey could fall off the table when they do begin to contend.

If the Mets don’t extend him, there will be a line of already contenders who crave his services. Unfortunately for New York fans, the Mets likely won’t be in that line.

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

Jake Dal Porto is a high school student from the Bay Area. He is a big time Giants fan and his favorite players are Matt CainTim LincecumBuster Posey, and Sergio Romo. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter:  @TheJakeMan24

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook. To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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About Jake Dal Porto

Jake Dal Porto is a student from the Bay Area. He has followed Bay Area sports for years, and enjoys writing about the various Bay Area teams. He is an assistant editor at Golden Gate Sports, and the editor of Blue Man Hoop. If you need to contact Jake, email him: jakedalporto@gmail.com

Posted on August 26, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’d Give Him MAYBE A One Year With An Option For A Second Year. But I Don’t Think I’d Go More Than Two Years. This Year Has Been Great For Him, But How Much Could He Have Left In The Tank, Ya Know?! So I’m Saying 2 Years TOPS. Then, If He’s Still Winning Games, Do Another Year With Another Option Year.
    That’s My Feeling, Anyway.
    Nifty Article, Men.
    Very Nifty, Indeed.
    -BRAD

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