The Mets this week made what ought to go down as one of the more important personnel moves in recent history with the trade of beloved knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (along with both of his catchers!) to Toronto for catcher prospect Travis D'Arnaud, young pitcher Noah Syndergaard, veteran catcher John Buck and very young outfielder Wuilmer Becerra.
Given Dickey's age, the Mets' needs, and their limited resources, dangling him in a trade was absolutely the right thing to do, and from here it's on D'Arnaud and his mates to make it worthwhile. I don't for a minute believe the Mets necessarily "punted" on 2013, 2014 or whatever, I'm certain they can repeat a 4th place showing with or without a few hot new prospects and optimistic they might do more. They might not either, but that's why they play the games. As for Dickey, what can you say. He was a great Met, and we'll miss him, but this was one opportunity where the Mets had a hammer, and I'm pleased to see they used it.
Even more shockingly, they managed to unload both Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas while doing so. Thole, who looked like a backup goalie in his. No. 30 jersey, probably still has a chance to hit .300 but I'm glad he won't be trying it with us. That Nickeas could be included in any deal almost defies reason: The Mets fearlessly whacked him from the 40-man roster this offseason but getting him back into the fold on a minor-league deal was one of those tiny details packing a potentially big payoff. It also miracously resuscitated the Tim Bogar Trade Chain with four new branches when I was certain it was dead. Good job on that Sandy. Nickeas leaves behind No. 4 and previously wore No. 13.
If we needed the reminder (you probably don't) that not all hot prospects work out, Mike Pelfrey quietly signed a make-good deal with the Twins this week. I have to admit that I pulled just as hard if not more for Pelf to succeed here than Dickey. He looked like a great power pitcher until you saw the doubts and poor results that tortured him here: I wouldn't be surprised if I found out he was hurting for longer than we knew.
Finally the Mets added an outfielder. Collin Cowgill probably wasn't high on anyone's wish list but he's a right-handed hitter (and lefty thrower!) who reportedly can go get it in center field, suggesting at worst he could platoon with Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Cowgill, acquired for minor-league infielder Jefry Marte (an Omar-Era International signee briefly considered a real prospect) wore No. 12 most recently in Oakland and No. 4 previously with Arizona.
Of the Toronto arrivals, D'Arnaud is listed as No. 15, which ought to be available unless Fred Lewis comes back or makes a stink and I wouldn't expect either. John Buck in this article passed along by MBTN reader Matt details his reason for preferring 14, but with that number retired, could choose 44, 4 and/or 34.
In honor of today's date -- 12/12/12, MBTN presents the Top Twelve 12s in Mets history, presented Casey Kasum style:
12. Danny Garcia (2003-04): Reserve infielder who seemed to play with a chip on his shoulder, Garcia became the first Brooklyn Cyclone ever to graduate to the Mets. His assignment of No. 12 was no mistake as the organization appeared to intentionally distance itself from its previous occupant (see No. 8 on the list, below).
11. Jesse Gonder (1963-65): Lefthanded hitting catcher who had a fine offensive campaign in his one and only season as a regular, 1964, when he hit .270 with 7 home runs in newly built Shea.
10. Shawon Dunston (1999): Brooklyn product who made the most of a short stay in Metsville. Remembered best for a grinding at-bat to lead off the bottom of the 15th, in the rain, during Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS vs. Atlanta. His single helped to set the table for Robin Ventura's dramatic "Grand Slam Single" that ended it.
9. Jeff Francoeur (2009-10): Gregarious, enthusiastic, maddening player of tantalizing abilities and awful results, I'll remember Francoeur as the final middle finger in Bobby Cox's long history of flipping off the Mets.
8. Roberto Alomar (2002-03): When Bobby Valentine heard that general manager Steve Phillips had acquired All-Star Roberto Alomar for a collection of varied Met junk, his first question was "what's wrong with him?" Beyond declines in bat speed, foot speed, defense, enthuiasm and charisma, not a thing.
7. Jeff Kent (1993-96): Anyone watch Jeff on "Survivor"? Good competitor who lost his teammates by being too singleminded. Never saw that coming.
6. Willie Randolph (1992; 2005-08): If things in Metville keep going as they have, the nostalgia for the Willie Randolph Era will ramp up accordingly. He was after all the last manager to bring a Mets team to the playoffs. Resist. Although Willie brought a certain dignity to the role that is missed, his team rotted beneath detachment, denial and paranoia, setting into motion years of half-assed fixes.
5. Scott Hairston (2011-12): Yeah, I wouldn't have guessed he was this high either but he just gave us one of the best seasons a nominal Mets "backup" ever provided.
4. Tommy Davis (1967): A star in his one and only year as a Met (1967) and key figure in blockbuster Tommie Agee trade.
3. Ken Boswell (1968-74): Sometime starter and steady reserve infielder, and a key contributor in 2 postseasons (3-for-3 pinch-hitting in the 1973 World Series and two HRs in the 1969 NLCS).
2. Ron Darling (1985-89): The longest-tenured and best of Darling's three Met uni numbers was 12. He was 30 games over .500 wearing 12 (68-38) and one game under .500 wearing 44 and 15 (31-32). He's also become an excellent broadcaster and ambassador.
1. John Stearns (1977-84): A Bad Dude, a four-time All-Star, and setter of weird stolen-bases-for-a-catcher records.