After the Blue Jays pulled off their mega-deal with the Marlins, I said they still needed another bat before they have a really good lineup. They got Melky Cabrera. Their rotation was still a question mark though because of Josh Johnson‘s injury history and the fact Mark Buehrle was more of a 3-4 than a 1-2 starter. Then they got R.A. Dickey from the Mets. Now they’re pretty damn good.
Dickey signed an extension and passed his physical and the trade is now official. He’ll be headed to Toronto along with catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas in exchange for baseball’s top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, the Blue Jays’ top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, John Buck, and another minor leaguer.
The deal looks like a win-win for both teams. The Blue Jays get a consistent starter to anchor their rotation and a couple of catcher who have experience with the knuckleball and the Mets put themselves in a better position to turn their organization around long-term.
I hadn’t bought into the Blue Jays being that much better until this trade, but now they are bona fide. From top to bottom their lineup is solid and their ‘ace’ from last season, Rickey Romero, is now their No. 4 or 5 starter. On paper they look great and it appears that they have the depth now to withstand a few injuries too. They will likely head into the season with the best rotation and lineup in the American League East.
That doesn’t mean anything should be conceded to them. They are a good team, a very good one, but there are still a number of good teams in that division.
The Red Sox have plugged some holes with the likes of Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, and Stephen Drew. More importantly perhaps, they added Ryan Dempster, who isn’t quite as good as his NL numbers made him look, but is still a solid and capable veteran.
The Rays probably took a step back this offseason with the loss of Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton, but they were flawed stars to begin with. Their biggest loss is easily James Shields, but that was a solid trade they pulled off and should be re-tooled for 2014 and beyond.
The Orioles are more or less that same team. They lost Mark Reynolds, but he is being replaced by a solid prospect in Manny Machado. Is their rotation good enough though? And can their bullpen maintain the same elite level in 2013? If they can stay healthy while other teams suffer injuries though they will be right up there with the rest of the division.
Then there is our Yankees. A lot of fans seem down on them because of their lack of big offseason moves, but they started out as a 95 win/ALCS team. They have downgraded at right field and catcher, but they still have the same strong rotation and are not done building their team yet. Don’t be surprised if they are the Blue Jays biggest challenger for the division.
This Dickey trade is a big deal for the Blue Jays. They’re clearly all in and with him have a team that could be the favorites in the AL East and maybe even the entire AL.
Dickey won the NL Cy Young this year with a 2.73 ERA, a 8.9 K/9, and a 2.1 BB/9. The Mets picked him up off the scrap heap before the 2010 season, but has entirely resurrected his career since then. He has a 2.95 ERA, a 6.8 K/9, and a 2.2 BB/9 since then.
He is different from traditional knuckleballers because he throws the ball harder, in the which is usually in the 71-81 mph range, and he throws for strikes. Usually knucklers are more like Tim Wakefield who was usually in the 60-69 mph range and only rarely hit the mid-70’s range.