Another year, another superlative Met apparently departing because of ownership's cheapness. Last year it was Jose Reyes, Flushing's fan favorite, who high-tailed it to Miami after winning the National League batting title. This year, to hear ESPN (and others tell it), it's R.A. Dickey, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, bestselling author, and Tennessee folk hero.
The prospect of a Dickey deal is, though, far more galling than Reyes's free-agent departure. When Reyes left, the Mets had no intention of paying him what the Marlins ultimately did. They could have hammered out an extension before 2011, or during the season, but they didn't. This was possibly prudent, given his injury history.
But things are different with Dickey, who was the best pitcher in the NL last year. He wants two years and $26 million tacked onto his 2013 deal. The Mets want him to settle for two years and $20 million. This is a six-million-dollar difference, spread over two years. This ought to be a pittance to any major-league team, but it most assuredly ought to be a pittance to a big-market major-league team, a team that owns a billion-dollar cable network.
Then there are the Mets, a team that followed the new-era-sports-biz script as closely as it could (consider their cable outfit, or the new stadium ringed by luxury boxes) while the owners simultaneously took part in low-level white-collar crime. The Wilpons' racket eventually went bust and so did the national economy, but they got to keep the team as their piggybank.
They hired Sandy Alderson for cover—he was in Moneyball! Can't doubt him!—and let all their best players walk away. Since this year's offseason commenced, they re-signed David Wright but did it with plenty of deferred money, and without adding anyone else. (The Mets' opening day outfield, if they can't win the Scott Hairston sweepstakes: Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Lucas Duda.) And now they're planning to trade R.A. Dickey to save six million bucks.
Readers are subjected to corny metaphors of American decline far too often, but this'll be a good one: The two most popular players to dress for a team that plays our nation's pastime in its biggest and wealthiest city may very well be playing in Toronto next year, not at a field or at a stadium or a park, but at a centre. And it's all the Wilpons' fault.
Source: R.A. Dickey could be dealt [ESPN NY]