A year ago today, Dickeymania descended onto Bluebird Banter as news started to leak out that Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays were close to landing the National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. Things really started on December 14, when Damaso's Burnt Shirt posted a Ken Rosenthal tweet saying that extension talks have broken down between the Dickey and the Mets, and speculated about how the Blue Jays could acquire the knuckleballer. In the poll, 34% of you wanted to trade J.P. Arencibia and Moises Sierra for R.A. Dickey--keep that complete lowball in mind as you put out trade proposals this offseason.
For some reason, I was still up at 3 am and posted a couple of early morning tweets from Jeff Passan, who said that Travis d'Arnaud was one of the "principals" of the trade. My favourite sentence in the piece:
I don't know why the Jays would need more starting pitching, but they could use them for a subsequent trade.
That clearly shows that I know nothing--why the hell would the Jays need Jon Niese or Zach Wheeler--they have plenty of pitching, it's not like they'll have to use Aaron Laffey in the rotation haaha. A baseball analogy of that sentence is this:
In the poll, 60% of you were either uncomfortable or were unsure whether you'd be uncomfortable with the Blue Jays sending d'Arnaud for Dickey. I wish I was there when you found out who else was being sent over! (Points to Pikachu, who was the first to mention that perhaps one of Noah Syndergaard or Aaron Sanchez was to be included.) By the afternoon of December 16, 2012, the tables flipped and 63% of us were ready to accept the high price (Syndergaard and d'Arnaud) for Dickey, because flags fly forever and all that.
From that first speculation post to the official trade post, we Bluebird Banterers made 9,365 comments in a three-day period. In the final post, after knowing all the pieces of the trade and how much Dickey was going to cost, 70% of us still said that they would not have vetoed the trade. A few days after the trade, Emily G detailed what she thought about the trade in a piece called "A Roller Coaster Ride Of Feels: From Hate To Love Of The R.A. Dickey Trade." I hope that Emily got off the roller coaster some time before April.
Although not officially completed until December 16, Tom Dakers showed that by the morning of the 15th there were already pretty concrete rumours out there saying that the Blue Jays were going to receive Kyle Drabek, Travis d'Arnaud, and Michael Taylor for Roy Halladay and cash. What I had forgotten was that reporters were initially unsure whether the Phillies were sending back Drabek or J.A. Happ--who would've thought that by 2013 Happ would've contributed 0.6 greater WAR in a Blue Jays than Drabek? Simultaneously, the Phillies traded Cliff Lee to the Mariners for Tyson Gilles, Philippe Aumont, and J.C. Ramirez. (Note: Navin Vaswani, a.k.a. eyebleaf, was a commenter in that thread, clearly before he was too famous for us.)
Later that day, the Blue Jays flipped Michael Taylor to the Phillies for third baseman Brett Wallace, puzzling Dakers, who wrote:
Not sure I understand the point of getting Wallace, who looks like someone that will have to move to first base. I was hoping we were going to give Brian Dopirak a shot at first if Lyle is moved. And without Taylor we still have a gaping hole in RF. I was really hoping we were doing something that would stop Cito from using Bautista in RF this year. Wallace better be an amazing bat.
Of course, the reason Anthopoulos acquired Wallace was because he wanted him to slug in Las Vegas then acquire the guy the Phillies refused to give up: Anthony Gose (and also because he knew that Jose Bautista was going to break out in 2010, I'm sure). Right now, Gose still looks like the best out of the three, with Taylor just having logged 26 big league games over three seasons, and Wallace struggling with the Astros.
Kind of overshadowed, what with the departure of a franchise great and all, Adam Lind won the Edgar Martinez designated hitter award after hitting .305/.370/.562, hitting 35 home runs and 46 (!!!) doubles. He hit .275/.318/.461 against lefties that year...
The first bit of news of a seven-year $126-million contract extension for Vernon Wells leaked out via Ken Rosenthal on this day six years ago. We now know what a disaster that deal turned out to be (for the Angels), but as Rosenthal pointed out, Wells could've potentially had a larger payout if he had reached free agency.
The Blue Jays acquired reliever Justin Speier from the Rockies as part of a three-team trade, sending Mark Hendrickson to the Devil Rays and Sandy Nin to the Rockies. Justin was the son of Chris, who was the Expos' shortstop in the late '70s and the early '80s. The Speier family lived in Sainte-Adèle year-round and even attended a bilingual school. Speier had three solid seasons in the Blue Jays' bullpen, maintaining a 3.18 ERA and a 1.160 WHIP in 187 innings. He took those numbers to the Angels and signed a three-year, $12.75-million contract (he had one good season with them before falling off a cliff). The Blue Jays thanked him for his services and drafted Brett Cecil as compensation.
Toronto also sent Shannon Stewart and Dave Gassner to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Bobby Kielty. Kielty played half of 2004 with the Jays before being traded to the A's for Ted Lilly in one of J.P. Ricciardi's best trades.
December 15 has been quite the busy day for the Blue Jays. In 2002, they acquired prospect Jason Arnold from the Athletics in a four-team trade. The Blue Jays sent future All-Star shortstop Felipe Lopez to the Reds, who sent Elmer Dessens to the Diamondbacks, who in turn sent Eubriel Durazo to the A's. Arnold never made it to the major leagues and was out of baseball by 2006.
SkyDome Corp. president Pat McDougall announced that the stadium was in such dire financial straits that they needed $2 million in order to stay afloat through February 28 and that they will be seeking further bankruptcy protection from creditors. The $570-million stadium was sold for $85 million to Sportsco International a month later. Sportsco later sold it to Rogers for $25 million in 2005.
Tom Henke broke many Blue Jays' fans' hearts as he returned to the Texas Rangers as a free agent, signing a two-year, $8-million contract. With Duane Ward ready to slide into the closer's role, the Blue Jays never bothered to offer Henke a contract.
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended Steve Howe, Willie Wilson, Jerry Martin, and Willie Aikens for an entire season for drug abuse. The Royals and Blue Jays had agreed on principle to a trade to send Aikens (who was in prison for purchasing cocaine at that time) to Toronto, but the suspension threw a wrench into things. A few days later, the trade was completed when the Blue Jays sent Jorge Orta to Kansas City. He successfully appealed the year-long suspension and managed to play 93 games with Toronto in 1984, dropping from a .302/.373/.539 line in 1983 to a meagre .205/.298/.376. Aikens was out of the majors by April 1985, but not until he put his name into the record books: Aikens hit a game-tying two-run homer in the top of the ninth of a game against the Rangers in his last major league at bat.
SB Nation's Amy Nelson wrote a great piece about Aikens last summer and you should go read it.
The Blue Jays traded John Scott to the Cardinals to complete a trade in which Toronto acquired Pete Vuckovich for Tom Underwood and Victor Cruz.
Sources: Bluebird Banter archives, Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, Toronto Star archives, 2013 Toronto Blue Jays Official Guide.