Apologies for the deluge of R.A. Dickey-related posts lately– and the bad puns that inevitably go with them– but at the moment it’s one of the few things legitimately on the horizon that we’re aware of and that we can feel comfortable thinking the Jays might be in on. Or that, at the very least, has all the signs of something the club must be considering, even if much of the talk of some kind of feverish interest is bunk. And here we’ve at least got something of a different angle than passing along ever bit of speculation…
The problem with making a play for Dickey, of course, is the question of his value, which no one– not Dickey and the Mets, not the Mets and the teams inquiring on him– seems able to agree on.
The Mets want a lot, and the fact that the Rangers just missed out on Zack Greinke could make Texas more interested in moving someone like Mike Olt to get a deal done, which could escalate the market–and, as Buster Olney points out, given the Greinke deal and some of the other signings this winter, that the “extension request by Dickey looks very reasonable.”
Despite their seeming unwillingness to extend him at that rate, New York clearly knows this, as Andy Martino of the Daily News tweets that even Olt on his own won’t be enough to get the Mets to trade their Cy Young winner.
Ken Rosenthal takes a look at the difficulty of finding the right value for both sides in a piece at Fox Sports, using both the Rangers and Olt and the Jays as examples.
The Jays “definitely would say ‘no’ to” an offer of JP Arencibia and Anthony Gose in exchange for Dickey, Rosenthal says, which– despite how it may feel, on the surface– I don’t think anybody could blame the club for.
Arencibia, despite his deficiencies, is an OK receiver with a nice amount of pop, due to improve at least slightly from the atrocious .275 career on-base he sports, and who has four years of low-cost team control remaining before free agency. There’s maybe not enough value there alone to net Dickey– especially since, despite all the talk of the Mets needing a catcher, Arencibia isn’t that major an upgrade on Josh Thole, who lacks the power (career SLG is 100 points lower than JPA’s) but even including an awful 2012, walks more and generates more contact (.331 career on-base) that JP, putting him in the same neighbourhood in terms of wOBA and wRC+– but it’s a long way from nothing.
Thing is, Gose’s value is far greater than that, even. And the more I think about it, the more I understand the Jays’ reluctance to move him.
Yes, a lot of people– myself included– were pretty disappointed with what we saw from his bat, especially when he looked hopelessly over-matched in August. But September was a completely different story. Stunningly, given the way he was so completely written off as a hitter (again, including myself), Gose posted a .328 wOBA and 105 wRC+ in 97 PA over the season’s final month.
Colby Rasmus, by comparison, had just one month– his torrid June– where he outpaced Gose’s September in either metric.
Granted, we don’t exactly get the clearest picture by comparing numbers broken into small, monthly samples– or by putting too much stock in September numbers– but the comparison of the club’s two CFs is, again, pretty stunning when you do so. Rasmus posted pitiful wRC+ numbers of 36 and 59 in August and September. Those were bested in both months by Gose, who– lost as he looked in August– posted a 41, to go along with September’s 105.
Add in his defensive value and value on the base paths, and Gose was practically Michael Bourn for a month.
Bourn in 2012: .274/.348/.391, .326 wOBA, 104 wRC+, 10.0 BB%, 22.0 K%, 22.5 UZR/150
Gose in Sept.: .262/.347/.393, .328 wOBA, 105 wRC+, 11.3 BB%, 23.7 K%, 55.3 UZR/150*
* Actually his full season number, and only for his limited innings in CF.
Obviously the UZR number is completely warped by the sample size, and again, the September stats are hardly something we can just prorate over 600 plate appearances and call an expectation, but the potential is there, and for a guy with six years of dirt cheap control ahead of him, those are some eerily similar numbers (yes, over a tiny sample) to a player the free market is about to value in the neighbourhood of $75-million or above.
Again, I’m not suggesting Gose would be able to provide that kind of value over the course of a season, especially as a 22-year old, but even with the atrocious August as a counterbalance, Gose was worth 0.6 wins, per FanGraphs, in 2012. Prorated over 600 plate appearances and that’s 1.9 wins– as compared to 1.4 for Rasmus in 2012 and 0.8 the year previous.
Point is, Gose just doesn’t have to be that much better with the bat than he already is to provide a staggering crapload of cheap value for the Jays.
Now, Rasmus looks much better when you use DRS instead of UZR (in 2012 his 7 DRS ranked fourth among qualified CF, while he was tenth by UZR at -0.6), and there’s no question in my mind that his bat has a higher ceiling– we’ve seen it, both in June’s .376 wOBA, and in the 2010 season, when he posted a .369 wOBA for St. Louis– but he’s also about to enter his second arbitration year, meaning that, barring an extension, he’ll be a free agent following the 2014 season.
Regular readers will know how much of a Rasmus backer I have been– and I still do believe it’s possible he can put it together on a consistent basis, though I’m less confident now than I was a year, or even six months ago. You’ll probably also remember how hard we were on Gose around here this summer, too. But I just don’t see how it’s possible not to conclude that, especially factoring cost and length of control, Gose is a tremendously more valuable asset for the club
In fact, I’d be much more comfortable trading Rasmus than Gose, even for a one-year, “win now” starter like Dickey. I might even be able to argue that keeping Gose is preferable to keeping Travis d’Arnaud, too– given the dearth of CF outside of the low minors with Marisnick gone, and the fact that Arencibia is cheaply controlled for longer, and that the system has some options closer behind him.
Do six years of Rasmus and Arencibia match up more closely to three of Dickey (assuming an extension) than ten of Gose and Arencibia? I absolutely think so– and, frankly, I wouldn’t do the deal if Gose was involved. But given what we’ve been hearing, I have a hard time believing the Mets feel the same way– or if not him, d’Arnaud.
Rosenthal, for his part, says he’s “starting to think that all of the trade conversations might just be an exercise in futility.” I tend to agree, and the latest from Martino doesn’t do a whole lot to change my opinion:
Mets peoples’ gut on Dickey stay/go fluctuated wildly all week.But after speaking w Alderson Thurs AM, sources came away thinking stay.
— Andy Martino (@MartinoNYDN) December 9, 2012
But these are just informed guesses from these Mets people. No one knows what is going to happen here. Can’t stress that enough.
— Andy Martino (@MartinoNYDN) December 9, 2012
Indeed, if I was a betting man (and I am), I’d be banking on him staying with the Mets.
Much of that also has to do with Dickey’s own red flags, too: the lack of an elite track record beyond 2012; the fickle trick pitch he’s making his money with; his age; and the league and ballpark he was succeeding in last year.
The longer I’ve thought about this deal, the more I’m finding myself comfortable with such issues. It makes more than enough sense, I think, to believe he was better last year because he’s finally got the feel for the knuckleball he lives on, and because that’s the pitch he throws, the concerns about his age are nothing close to the same as any other pitcher we might consider. Most importantly, Dickey was quite good in the two years preceding 2012, and if that’s the Dickey you end up acquiring, for a team like the Jays who now need every extra win they can get, I think it’s absolutely OK.
But for the cost the Mets are reportedly asking?
I see why Anthopoulos would salivate over the possibility of adding him, and I see why a team like the Jays might want to get into a staring contest with the Mets, hoping they may blink, but it’s not like Dickey is a “Cy Young winner” in the same way Justin Verlander is. It’s not as though having his name on a trophy washes away all of his warts or question marks.
I think he could be a four win pitcher again for the Jays next year, which would be absolutely huge in their pursuit of their first playoff appearance in 20 years, but if you’re giving up all the value that a player like Gose or d’Arnaud can bring, you’ve got to believe that a lesser pitcher with a few extra years of cheap control might make far more sense– and maybe it makes more sense to wait, with more of those kinds of arms coming available in season, once it becomes less completely toxic in the marketplace for brands to raise the white flag.
Or maybe they don’t even need to wait so long: Justin Masterson, to cite one example, has an extra year of control remaining and has been worth as many wins, per FanGraphs (uh… Baseball Reference, not so much), over the last three years.
Do the sorts of players we’re talking about with Dickey not start that conversation, too?
I mean… really, the biggest issue for the Jays isn’t so much improving on the two wins you can probably (optimistically?) expect out of JA Happ in the fifth spot in the rotation. Rather, it’s improving on the weekly shitcannings you can expect out of Chad Jenkins the second he has to join the rotation to replace anyone who needs to miss time.
It ought to be possible to accomplish that without giving up either Gose or d’Arnaud– shit, it can be accomplished with just a little bit more money, and should be easily sellable to the Rogers suits we’re supposed to believe the Jays now have to tiptoe around after the company finally made something resembling a major, good faith investment in the club (the reported offer to Jason Grilli says hi!). So, no matter how much someone like Bob Elliott wants us to believe the Jays see Dickey as a true number one and might be willing to do something ridiculous to land him, for me, for all the sense it makes, it just can’t possibly make enough unless the price comes down.
And that’s kinda exactly while we’re still taking about it, I guess.