By Ernie Palladino
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Count Monday as a Mets win, even though sometimes even winning involves a modicum of pain.
That was the day the organization bade a fond farewell to R.A. Dickey, the feel-good story of all of baseball in 2012. Only a physical stood between the trade of Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to the Toronto Blue Jays for premier catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, major-league catcher John Buck, pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, and 18-year-old outfielder Wuilmer Becerra.
Dickey passed, like we all knew he would.
Yes, Mets fans will miss the Cy Young winner. But if they’re true baseball fans who appreciate the excitement the 38-year-old with the fast knuckleball injected into an otherwise drab season, they’ll continue rooting for him even as he continues his career with a Canadian team in the American League.
It was the right thing to do all around. The Mets received good and needed compensation for the right-hander, players he probably never would have drawn again. The Blue Jays received a player who throws a peculiar pitch that projects success, even if he doesn’t replicate this season’s 20-win output, and a backstop in Thole who has experience catching it.
And best of all for fans of Dickey the person, he gets that two-year, $25 million extension the salary-shy Mets were unwilling to offer. If anybody deserves a big payday, it is the former journeyman whose flexibility and persistence led him to these Cinderella moments.
So feel good for Dickey. And feel good for the Mets. They just landed themselves a big-league catcher in Buck who can serve as an able stopgap while the real key to the trade, d’Arnaud, hopefully works his way to the majors in quick order.
D’Arnaud is regarded as one of the top three catching prospects in baseball, and has drawn some rave reviews for his hitting. He was batting .333 at Triple-A Las Vegas last year, with 16 homers and 52 RBI before a torn posterior cruciate ligament ended his season.
Before anybody gets squirrely about that injury, torn posteriors are not as serious as torn anterior ligaments, even for players who have to squat for three hours at a time.
Some scouts project him as a 25-homer guy, an entity the Mets sorely need. If his defense is just passable, the 23-year-old should make a nice addition to the lineup.
The 20-year-old, right-handed Syndergaard is a longer-term prospect, but exciting enough. He still has a season in the minors to go before the 6-foot-5 monster completely harnesses that 95 MPH fastball of his. But if fellow prospect Zack Wheeler turns out in 2013 as effective as Matt Harvey was this year, the addition of another strikeout pitcher such as Syndergaard could potentially make the 2014 rotation downright fearsome.
Then again, this is the Mets. Remember when Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher were supposed to be the next Gooden, Darling and Fernandez? Didn’t quite work out. But at least with Harvey, they’re off to a good start. And this is a day for optimism, anyway.
So take heart. While most undoubtedly will miss Dickey, trading him for fair value was the right thing to do for all concerned.
Especially Dickey, a good guy who gets the payday he deserves.
How would you grade the trade? Let us know in the comments…