Results tagged ‘ R.A. Dickey ’

Ike Davis not among Mets players on the block

Unprompted this week, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson mentioned Jon Niese and Dillon Gee as trade candidates in addition to R.A. Dickey.

But not everyone is up for grabs. The New York Post reported that Ike Davis is unavailable and Daniel Murphy is “unlikely” to be traded, as the Mets do not know how they would replace the offense of either player. If the Mets strike a significant deal, it will be drawing from their strength — starting pitching — to plug up holes in their lineup.

–Anthony DiComo

Alderson’s State of the Mets address

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson addressed the state of the Mets for nearly 25 minutes Wednesday afternoon. In addition to the news story on Mets.com, you can ready the full transcript of Alderson’s Q&A here:

Opening statement:
“Overall, a disappointing season. We had some positive things, I think, but overall inconsistency. Certainly disappointed with the won-loss record. Lots of inconsistencies, first half/second half, home/road, individual performances. All of which I think led to the record that we will have after today’s game.

“So the first half was of course positive. I think we exceeded many expectations. I thought that we played as well as we had expected coming out of spring training. For a variety of reasons, some of which are only hypotheses at this point — they’re not actual explanations — we did not play well in the second half. There were a variety of things that happened. I’ll go back and probably point to four or five things. But ultimately, the second half was similar to the second half we’ve had over the last several years. I think if there’s one consistency among those four that we’ve been able to determine it’s that we really did not see significant contributions from additional players over the second half of any of those season.

“Inevitably, you have injuries and other things that happen, maybe sub-par performance. It’s nice to have somebody come in and take up the slack. And we had a couple people who had good second halves. We saw the emergence of Matt Harvey. Ike Davis played well in the second half. But overall, that wasn’t the case.

“Lots of positive things did happen. I think we’ll start with R.A. Dickey, I guess, and David Wright. Jon Niese had an excellent season for us. [Bobby] Parnell out of the ‘pen was good. Chris Young finished well. We saw Harvey emerge, some other young players emerge. So I think there’s some positives from the season, certainly. I take all of those as positives.

“The thing we’re trying to do here is three-fold: One is build through our farm system. The second is to retain our core players. And the third, really, is to add free agents and trade acquisitions on a fairly judicious basis. I would say over the first couple years, we’ve certainly looked to the farm system. Obviously not totally successful. We really have not, until now, been in a position to retain our core players. Which is the second prong of this approach. I think we’re in that place now. Then the third, we really have not been able to be involved significantly in the free-agent market. We certainly have brought in players on a free-agent basis. But in terms of significant acquisitions, it’s somewhat limited. But I can see that changing, perhaps not immediately, but somewhere in the near-term. So from my standpoint, many positives. But overall, a disappointing year.”

Are you looking to make a more significant number of trade and free agent acquisitions than in years past?
“Well, I think that it’s possible, given what we have, that we’ll be more active in the trade market. But that’s not a given necessarily. I mean, I really do believe that some of our players are on the verge of making bigger contributions. But it’s been two years. We have a better idea now of who we have at the major-league level, who’s coming from our player-development system, and the places where we need to look outside.

“There are a couple of obvious needs that we have. So it’s very possible that we’ll be more active in the trade market, as well as potentially in the free-agent market. But I don’t want to give the impression that we’ll be out in the free-agent market, looking for significant additions. We have lots of payroll tied up in a handful of players. That’s a situation that gradually has to resolve itself. We’re not really at that point.”

Who are the core players?
“The two that are popularly referenced are David Wright and R.A. Dickey. What we said over the last couple of months is we’re going to make every effort to retain those two guys. And I think we are in a position to be able to do that. Whether we are successful or not, time will tell. But I think we’re in a position to make a bona fide effort to do it. So I’m happy about that.”

Is Dickey a high priority to retain long-term?
“Those are the two big issues. Retaining our own players is, as I said, one of the key tenets of the approach we’re trying to take. Those two would be the most obvious. They’re free agents at the end of 2013. Those are the two situations we need to address and expect to address.”

Is the organization in a stronger place financially than it was a season ago?
“Yeah, I think that’s unquestionably the case. The Madoff situation was resolved. The investments were made in the team. And I think that overall, just with those two issues behind us, the team is in a better position. That’s progress.”

How much money do you project to lose this year?
“No. But unlike last year, I don’t intend to get involved in that discussion.”

How will the better financial situation affect your future spending?
“The first indication will be what happens with David and R.A. Because while those situations may not significantly increase our payroll this year, they will represent commitments on out years. Which I think is a fundamental shift in our situation. If you have the uncertainty that existed last spring, it would be difficult to make those long-term commitments. So I think that’s a fundamental shift. And I think that would be a good indication. I think the fact that we’re talking about it, and talking about retaining our players in a different tone than we were last year, should be a positive signal.”

Do you feel an urgency to get the Wright and Dickey deals done before Spring Training?
“I think not only would we like to see these two situations resolved by the beginning of spring training, Opening Day, I think we’d like to see them resolved much sooner rather than later.”

When will you open the dialogue?
“How long does [this] game last?”

Have you had any discussions yet?
“With the agents? No.”

Or with David?
“There have been some informal conversations with David. I wouldn’t say that they have been negotiations. That wouldn’t be our approach. That would be something that would be done with his representatives. But we’ve had some informal conversations.”

How soon could this be done? By the World Series? Winter Meetings?
“I don’t see why it couldn’t happen quickly. Now whether it will or not, I don’t know. I don’t have any indication that it would get done quickly. But as you look at it from our standpoint, the sooner the better.”

Is there a certain point where you need to sign them to extensions or else consider trading them?
“I think that there’s a preferred time frame from a baseball standpoint. As you get further into the offseason, with the uncertainty of the contract situation, then you do have to start thinking about other possibilities. That’s something we’re contemplating right now. but there’s that inevitability. But from a non-baseball standpoint, getting these resolved earlier, and if we were able to do it positively, that would have a salutary effect on everything else in the offseason. So there are lots of reasons why it would be great, if things got resolved soon. Whether they will or not, I have no idea.”

How will you sell Wright and Dickey on the future outlook here?
“I guess that’s going to be hard for me to assess. But what I intend to be, in any conversation that relates to the future of the Mets overall, is as honest as I can possibly be. I expect that that’s what they’ll want. I also think that there are factors that relate to New York that go beyond winning. That’s clearly the most important thing for any of us. But I think there are some other important factors, too, that don’t relate to salary or money, that may have an impact. I’ll try to be as honest in that regard as well.”

What would your message be?
“My message would be ‘Look, I think we’re very definitely headed in the right direction. But at the same time, we will not in the near-future have unlimited funds. So recognize what our immediate situation is, what we expect to be our mid and long-term situations, and evaluate us on that basis.’”

Must you prove your commitment to acquiring talent before they sign?
“As a practical matter, that’s probably not going to happen between now and the time that these conversations take place. But I think it will be important for them to hear from me, and again, to some extent, we’ve had these conversations. So I expect there will be further discussions about it.”

Wright wants this to be the final contract of his career. Can that kind of deal work here?
“Yeah. Would I rule that kind of contract out? No. I don’t know how long he expects to play. Presumably beyond 31 or 32.”

Would Baltimore or Oakland winning the World Series help prove that payroll increases are unnecessary?
“Yeah, to some extent. But look, the expectations in Baltimore this year, or the expectations in Oakland this year, or any year in some of these cities are very different than they are in New York. And I think we just have to recognize that.”

You don’t like second-generation free-agent deals. Is Wright an exception to that philosophy?
“I still hold a philosophy. But I think there are always exceptions to any rule. In my career, I’ve made exceptions in the past. I’m sure I’ll make exceptions in the future.”

Is Wright an exception?
“Well, look, we wouldn’t have had the last 15 minutes of conversation if that weren’t the case.”

What was the final 2012 payroll?
“The one that I use? We’re going to come in right around $100 million.”

Does that include salaries added during the year?
“Now it also includes 40-man roster guys at the minor-league level. It includes say a buyout on previous contracts. So I think we had a buyout of about $3 million or so on Frankie Rodriguez. So all in, right around $100 million.”

Could the payroll go maybe 10-percent higher next year?
“We’re having those conversations now. I met with Fred [Wilpon] and Saul [Katz] and Jeff [Wilpon], presented a number of different scenarios. We haven’t locked in to anything yet. There will be another meeting or two before we do that. So I can’t really give you an answer that.”

What factors will influence the payroll?
“What we can reasonably expect with whatever payroll we decide. So there are a lot of different factors. The players that we have going into next season, versus the players we have now or the players that we’ll have in 2014. There are different factors. It’s not all about one in particular.”

In next year’s payroll, will the 2014 buyouts on Bay and Santana be included?
“The buyouts typically are in the current-year budget.”

How willing would you be to trade starting pitching, particularly from your projected starting five?
“I think you’ve got to be real careful about dipping into your starting pitching. If you look at what happened to us, the five guys that started the season? We lost three of the five. So the depth there can be very important. And not just depth that you have at your Triple-A club with somebody who’s just coming up. Ideally, you’d like to have depth like maybe a Chris Young gave us this year. Which is under his special circumstances. You’ve got to be careful about our starting pitching, which is certainly our strength at the moment. And was certainly our strength, more or less, most of this year.”

If you deal Major League players from your roster, do you need Major League-ready players in return?
“Yes, we need some major-league ready players. There are some positions where we are not strong. Either the quality at the major-league level or in our system. And we need major-league ready players. Now that doesn’t mean to exclusion of a prospect. But we’d be looking for players that are close.”

Did you ever consider blowing up the roster completely?
“It’s a strategy that we’ve discussed. Again, I think every team is different. Every market is different. I’m not prepared to blow up the team and start over again. I don’t think we need to do that. so it’s unlikely that we’ll see any major explosions.”

Could you get away with that in New York?
“Look, with regard to probably 70 percent of any team’s roster, that can be done without any real negative reaction from fans. My attitude, if you think about it conceptually, is there are core players that fans identify with. It might be two players, it might be five, it might be six. Depends on how much success you’ve had, how many have come through the system. But there’s a core group. But it’s probably not that large in number. Everybody else? It’s all about succeeding. It’s all about bringing in better players. It’s all about making the team better. So I don’t think you sever any sort of relationship with fans if those players are interchanged.”

Could you conceivably still deal your core guys?
“It’s conceivable. And it would be something that we’d have to evaluate at the time.”

How do you evaluate Terry Collins heading into the final year of his contract?
“I think Terry’s done a fine job. As you know, we’re having the coaches back. Terry’s signed for next year. There are going to be questions about whether we’re going to extend him or not. That’s not something we’re doing yet. We haven’t had those discussions. We may not for a while. But I’m very pleased with the job that Terry did. The first half, second half situation has more to do with the players than it does with the manager or the coaching staff.”

Will the future payroll flexibility be based solely on money coming off the books, or will the bottom-line number expand?
“I hope both things happen. If you look at payroll, for me, there are really two components. There’s this core group of quality that most teams have. And then there’s the balance of the payroll. And right now, we have a lot of money tied up in a handful of players. So what I hope is that we do end up with more flexibility over the next couple of years. But also that we can grow the payroll to some extent.”

Would you back-load deals for free agents this winter?
“It’s a possible strategy, given the nut we have for 2013. But generally speaking, I don’t like to pay for today with deferrals tomorrow.”

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Mets to witness Greenberg’s dream

The Mets will play a role in an inspirational story next week when New Haven, Conn. native Adam Greenberg, a former professional baseball player whose career ended after he was hit in the head by a pitch in his only Major League plate appearance, joins the Marlins on a one-day contract.

Greenberg will make a second career plate appearance Tuesday for the Marlins, potentially with R.A. Dickey on the mound for the Mets in Miami. And the Mets will be supporting him in their own way.

“Certainly, it’s a sad story, but I’m anxious to have a chance to wish him luck and tell him we all support his charge back to try to become a Major League player again,” manager Terry Collins said. “It’s a sad case, but he obviously had some great skills because there’s a lot of guys who didn’t get one at-bat for lots of reasons. They might have gotten hit in the head in the Minor Leagues. Again, it’s a sad case but I know our guys will be on the top step clapping for him when he gets in the batter’s box.”

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Examining R.A. Dickey’s Cy Young candidacy

R.A. Dickey continued padding his statistics Monday against the Rockies, falling short of victory but shuffling ever closer to a potential National League Cy Young award.

Assuming the Mets do not alter their rotation in any radical way (a slim possibility) between now and the end of the season, Dickey should have eight starts remaining to prove he is Cy-worthy at age 37. As it currently shakes out, he will face the Marlins (29th-ranked offense) three times, and the Astros (28th), Phillies (23rd), Nationals (13th), Braves (9th) and Cardinals (4th) all once. So despite Dickey needing to win five times in eight games to reach 20 victories, the schedule is set up nicely for him.

That said, there are plenty of other fine candidates pursuing a Cy Young. With eight starts remaining, here’s a look at how Dickey stacks up against the other leaders:

*Note: Wins Above Replacement is omitted from the comparison due to the significant differences between accepted systems. But Dickey ranks third in Baseball Prosectus’s calculations and fifth in those of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Clayton Kershaw is the only other NL pitcher to rank in the top five in all three systems.

R.A. Dickey, Mets
ERA: 2.82 (4th)
Record: 15-4 (T-3rd)
Strikeouts: 181 (1st)
Innings: 175.1 (3rd)
WHIP: 1.03 (4th)
K/BB: 4.53 (5th)
FIP: 3.10 (7th)
xFIP: 3.11 (4th)

Dickey also leads the National League with four complete games, and is tied for the lead with two shutouts.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
ERA: 2.87 (7th)
Record: 11-7 (T-16th)
Strikeouts: 175 (2nd)
Innings: 178.2 (1st)
WHIP: 1.00 (2nd)
K/BB: 4.17 (7th)
FIP: 2.84 (4th)
xFIP: 3.21 (6th)

The reigning NL Cy Young winner, Kershaw is 4-1 with a 1.88 ERA, 39 strikeouts and four walks over his last five starts.

Johnny Cueto, Reds
ERA: 2.44 (1st)
Record: 16-6 (T-1st)
Strikeouts: 135 (18th)
Innings: 169.2 (6th)
WHIP: 1.13 (8th)
K/BB: 3.65 (13th)
FIP: 3.04 (5th)
xFIP: 3.63 (T-15th)

Cueto would have ranked second in the NL in ERA last year had he amassed enough innings to qualify.

Madison Bumgarner, Giants
ERA: 2.83 (5th)
Record: 14-7 (T-5th)
Strikeouts: 160 (6th)
Innings: 171.2 (4th)
WHIP: 0.99 (1st)
K/BB: 5.00 (3rd)
FIP: 3.26 (11th)
xFIP: 3.23 (7th)

Bumgarner, who recently celebrated his 23rd birthday, has been one of baseball’s best pitchers since the All-Star break.

Aroldis Chapman, Reds
ERA: 1.35 (N/A)
Saves: 29 (3rd)
Strikeouts: 110 (T-35th)
Innings: 60.0 (T-93rd)
WHIP: 0.72 (N/A)
K/BB: 7.33 (N/A)
FIP: 1.03 (N/A)
xFIP: 1.39 (N/A)

Chapman, a reliever, will not pitch even half the innings necessary to qualify for the ERA title and other rate stat leaderboards.

***

Those are probably the top five in some order, and you can make a legitimate case for every one of them. Cueto leads the league in ERA. Bumgarner has been more or less unhittable since July. Kershaw is trending in the right direction and could easily finish with the league’s best overall resume. Chapman is the most-feared and most-successful reliever in baseball. Dickey may have the most well-rounded stat line of any of them.

At this point, you could certainly make an argument to rank Dickey as high as first. I’d listen. But with fractions of points separating almost everyone on this list, there is a lot that can still happen over the next five weeks, including late runs from the second-tier group of Cole Hamels of the Phillies, Matt Cain of the Giants and Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg (if he does not get shut down) of the Nationals.

All that’s clear is that with eight starts remaining, Dickey is on the short list of legitimate Cy Young contenders in one of the most crowded fields of contenders in years.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Scenes from All-Star media day

Here are R.A. Dickey and David Wright at Monday’s All-Star media day at Arrowhead Stadium:

R.A. Dickey discusses Tony La Russa’s decision to start Matt Cain over him in the All-Star Game.

David Wright talks all things Mets, from Dickey to his own MVP-caliber first half.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Phillies’ Ruiz talks Dickey, knuckleballs

With the news that R.A. Dickey will not start Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Kansas City came the revelation that Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz will be Dickey’s batterymate when he finally does enter. Here are Ruiz’s thoughts on baseball’s most enigmatic pitch:

Thoughts on catching the knuckleball?
“I don’t think I’ll have trouble. I can handle that. We are going to play long toss today and see how it moves. But I don’t think it’s going be a problem.”

Have you ever caught a knuckleballer before?
“I did in Triple-A. A kid named [Jared] Fernandez. … I remember a little bit.”

Have you talked to Dickey about it?
“Yeah, we talked on the bus. He said he has his own glove. I’m going to see it today.”

Can it give you an advantage the next time you face him?
“No man, he’s tough. If you’re catching, it’s okay. But if you hit, it’s the same thing. That ball is moving so much.”

Would you rather catch or it hit?
“Catch it. He has a good knuckleball. It moves a lot.”

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Where does Dickey’s ER streak rank?

R.A. Dickey has not allowed an earned run in his last 42 2/3 consecutive innings. Here’s where that streak ranks in MLB history, dating back to 1918:

NAME IP START END
Hershiser, Orel 61.2 08/30/1988 04/05/1989
Drysdale, Don 58.2 05/14/1968 06/08/1968
Carlton, Steve 57.1 07/19/1972 08/13/1972
Gooden, Doc 49.1 08/31/1985 10/02/1985
Gibson, Bob 47.2 06/02/1968 07/01/1968
Greinke, Zack 46.2 09/13/2008 04/29/2009
Perry, Gaylord 45.0 08/28/1967 09/15/1967
Vaughn, Hippo 45.0 06/26/1918 07/09/1918
Lidle, Cory 43.2 08/04/2002 08/31/2002
Bush, Guy 43.0 08/03/1926 08/26/2026
Dickey, R.A. 42.2 05/22/2012 Current

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Marveling at R.A. Dickey’s run

Because numbers often speak louder than words, here is what R.A. Dickey has accomplished of late (from the Mets’ official game notes):

R.A. DICKEY ONE-HITTER: Tossed consecutive one-hitters to become the first pitcher to throw back-to-back games with one hit or less since Toronto’s Dave Steib in 1988…Steib one-hit Cleveland on the road on September 24 and then allowed one hit vs. Baltimore on September 30…The last National Leaguer to do so was Jim Tobin for the 1944 Boston Braves, who tossed a one-hitter on April 23 vs. Philadelphia and a no-hitter on April 27 vs. Brooklyn… (ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU)…Tonight’s one-hitter was the 37th in franchise history.

R.A. DICKEY WINS: Won his major league-best 11th game tonight and extended his winning streak to a career-high nine consecutive decisions…It’s the longest streak for the Mets since Johan Santana won 10 straight from July 9-2008-April 6, 2009…The 11 wins tie Dickey’s career-high, first set in 2010…During his winning streak, a span of 11 games, the righthander has compiled a 1.21 ERA (11 earned runs/81.2 innings) and 88 strikeouts.

R.A. DICKEY SHUTOUTS: Tossed his second complete-game shutout of the season and fifth of his career…Also held St. Louis scoreless on June 2 at Citi Field…It was his third complete-game of the season and his second consecutive…Has seven career complete games…The three complete games tie the major league high.

DICKEY STRIKEOUTS: Struck out a career-high 13, his second consecutive game of double-digit strikeouts and his fourth double-digit strikeout game of the season overall…The four games of double-digit Ks are the most in the majors…Has 103 strikeouts on the season, tying Justin Verlander for the most in the majors.

DICKEY HITLESS INNINGS: R.A. Dickey tossed 12.0 consecutive hitless innings over his last two starts to set a franchise record…Dickey allowed no hits over the final eight innings on June 13 at Tampa Bay and then held the Orioles hitless for the first four tonight…The previous club mark was 11.0 innings by Jack Hamilton in 1966…(ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU)

DICKEY NO EARNED RUNS: Has not allowed an earned run in 42.2 innings, the second longest streak in franchise history…It trails only Dwight Gooden’s stretch of 49.0 innings without an earned run in 1985…Lowered his ERA to 2.00, tied for the best in the majors with Brandon Beachy.

DICKEY STREAKING: Dickey has not allowed an earned run in five straight games…The only other Mets pitcher with the same streak was Dwight Gooden in 1985.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Showalter on Dickey: “It doesn’t surprise me at all.”

In his autobiography “Wherever I Wind Up,” R.A. Dickey credits then-Rangers manager Buck Showalter with persuading him to convert to a full-time knuckleball pitcher in 2005. When the Rangers sent Dickey back down to the Minors for the umpteenth time that year, Showalter and pitching coach Orel Hershiser sat Dickey down and told him the knuckleball might be his only chance to make it back to the big leagues.

On the heels of arguably the best game of Dickey’s life, Showalter — now the Orioles manager — revisited that conversation with Baltimore reporters Thursday:

“That’s kind,” Showalter said of Dickey crediting him. “If R.A. [actually] said that, I wouldn’t doubt it.  But he’s special people. You don’t even deny those guys accomplishing the kinds of things he does. There’s not better heart and makeup then him. You are just trying to figure out a way for what approach for him would allow that to play. You are always watching guys mess around with pitches and stuff. R.A. was going to figure it out.

“Ninety-nine percent of it had to do with R.A. Dickey. I can envision [this kind of success]. It doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s a guy who you like looking at every day. It’s real. It’s quality stuff. He’s not your prototypical knuckleballer, it’s not fun to catch. The biggest challenge we had with him is making sure you could catch it, throwing two knuckleballs.

“R.A. has that hard [knuckleball] you don’t want to get to. We are going to look at some tape and stuff when we get there — I haven’t really beared down with that. I know he’s having a real good year. Athletic. Tough. Good father, good husband, good man. I’d love to see good things happen to him. I was hoping he wouldn’t face us, but they’ve got a lot of good pitchers there.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Yee haw! Mets go Western after win

The Mets had a little fun after Sunday’s 6-5 victory over the Rockies, dressing up in Western and Mexican garb for their plane ride to Houston. Here are the pictures, all courtesy of the Mets:

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

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