The last of our little look at long time Jays who might not be back next year.
R.A. Dickey (as you know) came over in one of 2 big trades Alex Anthopoulos made in the offseason after the 2012 season. After hoping, for a couple of years, that Alex would make a ‘win now’ trade, he made two less than a month apart. They really didn’t work well. But, despite these trades not working, it did mark the start of the Jays actually making a push towards the playoffs. And the trades did increase fan interest, which, I think, convinced Rogers that they could increase payroll.
In November, Alex traded roughly 80% of our top prospects (plus Yunel Escobar) to the Marlins for Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson. The trade bumped up our payroll significantly and excited the fanbase. We went from being thought of as an also ran to a favorite to make the playoffs, all in one trade.
But, Alex wasn’t done. He wanted an Ace to go at the top of the roster. He traded for reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. Where the first trade excited us, this second trade worried us because top prospects Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud went the other way. It was a big price to pay, but, had things worked out the way Alex hoped, we likely would have forgiven Alex.
Alex thought that Dickey, Johnson, Buehrle, Morrow and J.A. Happ, who he traded for in July of 2012, would be the rotation that would carry us to the playoffs. Add in Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio who would add some much missing speed to the lineup, we would have a shot at the World Series.
Josh Johnson was terrible in 4 starts in April and then went on the DL. Morrow was just as bad, but made it to the end of May before hitting the DL (missing the rest of the season). Happ was a little better, but had a hard time pitching past the 5th inning and then took a line drive to the head, costing him 3 months on the DL. Mark Buehrle, for the first month of the season, pitched even worse than the others, but managed to stay off the DL and he turned his season around after a terrible start against the Rays on May 6th. Add in that Bonifacio couldn’t hit (or play second base) and, well, Alex’s plans almost couldn’t have gone worse.
It is hard to blame Alex, but….he really did expect too much from Josh Johnson. And some scout should have been able to tell him that Bonifacio couldn’t play second on turf, or that Reyes’ defense could go downhill in a hurry.
Alex signed R.A. to a contract extension, before the trade was even announce, signing him to $12.5 million a year for 2014 and 2015, with a $12 million option for 2016.
That first season, Dickey didn’t pitch great, early in the season, but with the problems the rest of the staff was having, we barely noticed. At the end of the season, we noticed he had a much better second half (3.56 ERA) than first half (4.69), but he wasn’t the Ace we were expecting. That would continue.
2014 was a better year for R.A., not a Cy Young type year, but pretty good, 3.71 ERA in 215 innings. The first half (3.82), second half (3.57) split wasn’t nearly as pronounced.
His 2015 final numbers were pretty good, but he had a terrible first half (3-10, 4.87 ERA) and a Cy Young type second half (8-1, 2.80 ERA). I thought part of the improvement came from Gibby having a much quicker hook with him, in the second half of the year. It did seem like he could get us 5-6 good innings and then it would fall apart quickly. Trouble was that a good part of his value was his ability eat innings (and he did throw 214 innings).
In the playoffs, he was almost an afterthought. He pitched a good 4.2 innings in his start against the Rangers, pulled surprisingly early for a pitcher that seemed to be having no troubles. In the ALCS he had a disaster of a start, going just 1.2 innings, and causing Gibby to use almost everyone in the bullpen in a game we were out of early.
2016 flipped the lousy first half, good second half script. After a crappy April, he was pretty good in the first half. His second half was terrible, and on a team with an embarrassment of riches in the starting pitching department, he was left off the playoff roster.
On the Jays All-Time list R.A. ranks:
- 8th in hits per 9 innings (8.32)
- 10th walks per 9 innings (2.94)
- 13th in ERA (4.05)
- 12th in Wins (49)
- 11th in Starts (130)
Memories of R.A.:
- His first start, with J.P. Arencibia trying to catch the butterfly. I thought he was getting better as the game went on, I would have given him another chance.
- Then there was the looks of bewilderment, when he gave up his first home run at Rogers Centre, on a ball that looked like it would be just a medium fly out.
- I’ll remember his interviews, they aren’t the typical baseball player interviews. We learned about the capriciousness of the knuckleball.
- The game against the Giants, when Dickey was up to bat, showed bunt, then slashed a double down the left field line.
- And, of course, I’ll remember the games when the knuckleball was good.
Ross Atkins, in his press conference yesterday, said they would be considering re-signing R.A. I really don’t believe it. I can’t imagine he will be back.
He didn’t live up to expectations, I’m not sure it that’s his fault or the fault of our expectations.
Share your R.A. Dickey memories.