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.