Mets flip flop and fly on adding a starting pitcher

In politics, if you take one side of an issue and then later on, after more information becomes available, you take the other side, your opponent will brand you a flip-flopper. Now, it makes no difference if you changed because new information became available that allowed you to make a better decision or if you changed because you recognized that it was politically advantageous. You’re a flip-flopper and not to be trusted.

We’ve seen some flip-flopping this offseason with the Mets.

When it comes to adding a starting pitcher to the mix, it appears the club has gone back and forth on its position often enough to make even the most devious politician grin. The latest update has the Mets interested in the “second tier” of starters because of the soft market for free agents. One could argue that the Mets have changed here because of new information, which would seem to be a good thing.

But it still leaves open the question if a team with resources that can best be described as both limited and unknown should be looking to spend money to add to a position that already has nine candidates, even if eight of those candidates have injury and/or performance concerns.

My opinion is that all pitchers are injury concerns to some degree. But if you make the decision that you’re going to add to the mix, you should aim either at the top or the bottom of the market. When both Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish are available – why settle for second tier? If you’re willing to spend $15 million or so for Alex Cobb, who threw just 22 innings in 2016 and who has never topped 180 IP in a season, or for Lance Lynn, who missed all of 2016 and had a 4.82 FIP and a 4.75 xFIP last year – why not spend $20 million or so and get someone like Arrieta who’s posted a 7.3 fWAR or Darvish, who has a lifetime 3.30 FIP and a 3.24 xFIP?

One can make the argument that adding $15 million per year is pretty unlikely and $20 million simply isn’t on the table. Okay then, go the opposite direction.

Earlier in the offseason, Alderson talked about adding a type of pitcher. Unfortunately, he put a name to the type, saying the club was interested in a Bartolo Colon type. He meant a guy with a history of giving you 180 or so innings. What a majority of the fanbase heard was the name and visions of 2014-16 danced in their heads.

However, that guy doesn’t exist anymore. The Mets were extremely lucky that Colon completely fell off a cliff while on someone else’s team. Guys at his age fall apart at a moment’s notice and they don’t get it back. Last year he had a 6.48 ERA, compared to his 3.43 mark for the Mets in 2016. He had a career-low K/9 and his BB/9 & HR/9 were the highest they’ve been since 2009. Or before the medical treatments he had to go to the Dominican Republic to receive that revived his career.

But if we forget the name and focus on the other word Alderson used – type – we see a guy out there who could fit the bill. Old pal R.A. Dickey has made 29 or more starts in the last seven seasons and has topped the 200-inning mark five times. Last year he threw 190 innings and had an ERA+ of exactly 100. From June 19 until the end of the year, Dickey had 3.51 ERA in 112.2 IP and hurled 12 Quality Starts in 18 games, including his last two of the season.

At the end of last season, Dickey said he was going to talk with his family and see if he wanted to play again in 2018. In January, veteran newsman Jon Heyman reported that Dickey is likely to retire. But that was three weeks ago and there have been no follow-up reports. Is Dickey leaning towards retirement because he’s had enough or is it because there hasn’t been interest in him?

Would Dickey be willing to ink an NRI and come to camp with the possibility he would start the year in Las Vegas? Or would he be amenable to an MLB contract at a face saving $1 million? If he’s willing to do either one of those things, my preference would be for that rather than an eight-figure deal for a second-tier guy who missed significant time in 2016.

Even if Dickey wants a contract like he received last year, a $7.5 million one which would be a deal-breaker, my hope is that Alderson at least was interested enough to ask.

16 comments for “Mets flip flop and fly on adding a starting pitcher

  1. Name
    February 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Please take this as constructive criticism. I would like to make you aware that it’s hypocritical when you completely dismiss what Lucroy did in 2016, yet here you cite Arrieta’s 2015 accomplishment of 7.3 fWAR as a reason to give him a big contract.

    I’ve also seen you cite Arrieta’s 2nd half performace last year as proof that he’s turned it around, but you seem to not consider Lucroy’s resurgence after his trade to Colorado.

    • February 4, 2018 at 12:49 pm

      I don’t completely dismiss what Lucroy did in 2016. It’s in line with what he did in 2014 and 2012. His 2016 season is not a fluke. I just don’t want to be banking on a rebound from a catcher with an injury history bouncing back from a sub-par year at age 32. And pay significantly more than what the club is already on the hook for with TDA in order to gamble on that rebound.

      And yes, I’ll give more credence to a pitcher bouncing back who plays his home games in Wrigley than a position player having a bounceback in Colorado. After the trade to the Rockies, Lucroy put up a .238/.355/.317 line in road games. His resurgence after the trade is about 98% fueled by his home park.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/splitstool.aspx?playerid=7870&position=C&splitArr=8&strgroup=season&type=2&startDate=2017-8-3&endDate=2017-10-1&filter=

      Catchers don’t age gracefully, Lucroy has an injury history that raises red flags and the turnaround late last year came in Coors Field.

      I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole.

      • Name
        February 4, 2018 at 1:28 pm

        So i see the flaw in your Lucroy argument now.

        “I just don’t want to be banking on a rebound from a catcher with an injury history”

        I counted 0 DL days for Lucroy in the past 2 years.
        He had a 1 month DL stint in 2015.
        0 DL days in 2013 and 2014.

        1 DL stint in 5 years… pretty remarkable from a catcher.

        I would also like an explanation why you forgive Arrieta’s poor performance. Rebound in second half can probably be attributed to facing mostly junky teams

        • February 4, 2018 at 2:06 pm

          You’re leaving out wrong side of 30. And you completely swept under the rug that he did his hitting in Coors Field. What’s next, are you going to advocate signing Carlos Gonzalez? Surely you’re not scared off from his .923/.606 H/R split, right?

          Arrieta’s performance the first 3 months of 2017 is the outlier compared to his recent performance.

          From 2014-16, Arrieta had a 2.42 ERA and a 0.973 WHIP
          The first 3 months of ’17 a 4.67 ERA and a 1.365 WHIP
          From 7/2 on last year had a 2.26 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP

          In the playoffs, he made two starts, allowed 1 ER in 10.2 IP and had 1 BB and 10 Ks. I guess those were junky teams, though

          • Name
            February 4, 2018 at 5:10 pm

            I don’t object to the fact that Lucroy had a bad season last year. I object to the fact that you can overlook Arrieta’s terrible 1st half and are willing to pay him a multi-year budget crippling deal while you are blinded towards Lucroy’s 1 bad year and are unwilling to consider a one or two year mid-range deal even though he has a pretty damn impressive track record.

            2013- 795 OPS
            2014- 837 OPS
            2015 – Struggled in April and was hurt in May, but after he came back had a .762 OPS
            2016 – 855 OPS

            If you are using the wrong side of 30 argument for Lucroy, take a look at Arrieta’s age.

            • February 4, 2018 at 5:45 pm

              There’s a huge difference in the age of catchers versus the age of pitchers. But you know that already.

              Bookmark this thread and let’s come back to it at the end of the year and see how Lucroy did.

              • Name
                February 4, 2018 at 9:55 pm

                It’s not whether or not he will rebound. I think you’d agree you have a bias against guys who are older and struggled. You hated the Gonzalez acquisition. You questioned bringing back Cabrera. You don’t want to touch Lucroy.

                But Arrieta? He’s old. Check. He had a down year. Check. But not only do you want to sign him, you want to give him megabucks. Is that not hypocritical?

                • February 4, 2018 at 10:14 pm

                  Before I answer your question, I have to say you’re venturing into uninteresting territory where your main point isn’t having a productive conversation but “proving” me wrong. Furthermore, you usually bring something to the conversation and you haven’t done that in this thread.

                  I think there are two main differences in the group of players you mentioned and Arrieta. First, Arrieta is a pitcher while the others are hitters and two, Arrieta already showed a mid-season bounce back to previous levels which the other three simply did not do without the benefit of being traded to Coors Field. What Arrieta did in the second half of the season is right directly in line with what he did in 2014-2016. If Arrieta had a full season where he had a 4.67 ERA and a 1.365 WHIP – I wouldn’t be on the bandwagon. But he didn’t.

                  Edit – removed personal attack from someone not even involved in the discussion.

  2. February 4, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Dickey as a 5th starter makes so much sense and that is why Mets won’t do it.
    Sad. Imagine a base $1m deal and maybe another $1m in incentives, like 150 innings, 10 wins, etc, etc.
    Fellow is a solid citizen and is probably thankful overall to the Mets for resurrecting his career when they did.

    Dickey toiling 6-7 innings each and every fith start vs the other team’s weakest starter, often many young rooks that will have trouble matching inning for inning with the knucklerman, would give the Mets an advantage most times out. It would also rest the pen some, which we all know will be needed and depended on plenty with the other starters so dependent on the K and prone to high pitch counts. Too much sense….why the Mets will likely pass. Same with Harrison for 2b. Too much sense. All naught for Nimmo ? Really ? Nimmo won’t even play that much this year as a 5th outfielder and Mets need a good 2b and leadoff hitter. “Presto” there it is waiting for them in Harrison, but Sandydandy won’t budge. Mets would do so much better with some ‘sense’ vs cents !

    • Name
      February 4, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Do you really think a guy who is most likely going to retire is going to be lured by those paltry terms?

      Considering his solid numbers last year and the fact that Colon got $12.5 mil last year, it’s going to take at least $10 mil to get him to talk and think about playing, and most likely reluctantly. And he’ll be playing for the money, not for the love of the game, so would you really want someone like that? He’ll give 100% physically but mentally maybe only 50%.

  3. John Fox
    February 4, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    If the Mets were to sign Dickey, would be interesting to see which catcher would volunteer to try to catch his knuckleballs.

  4. Metsense
    February 4, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    RA Dickey had an average 2017 with a slightly elevated FIP and the FIP should be expected to regress further in 2018. He could give the Mets another 31 starts and 190 innings. Harvey, Matz, Wheeler or Lugo don’t seem capable of logging 190 innings. Signing Dickey would be surrendering to mediocrity. If the Mets have no intention of signing one of the four remaining free agent pitchers then Dickey could be a stabilizing rotation alternative.

  5. Hunter
    February 4, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Dickey ain’t no Cobb or Lynn but I guess he might be better than nothing. How about Jaime Garcia?

  6. TJ
    February 5, 2018 at 12:05 am

    Brian,
    I agree with your premise here, go high or low. Lynn and Cobb are tempting and concerning at the same time. But, they should certainly be considered given the market place and the price tags.

    I also agree that they should check in with R.A. He’s going to need something close to his 2017 contract, but there is an equation that it makes sense for the Mets…if they can only afford an infielder and Dickey, that would work. His knuckler between Syndergaard and deGrom could be very interesting.

  7. Mike Walczak
    February 5, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    Do the Mets have a better chance to win and a have a chance to make the playoffs with or without adding a solid number three starter ? With all of the questions and potential injury issues, there are too many hope this, hope that’s, that need to occur. So, I am of the opinion, that adding the third solid starter is important. Other pitchers like Matz and Wheeler may be better suited for the bullpen. So lets go out and get one.

    That being said, I think giving Dickey an invite is a good idea.

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