J.P. Ricciardi thinks the R.A. Dickey trade was a good deal for both teams, especially given the state of the American League East.
The former Toronto Blue Jays GM and current special assistant to New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson was a guest on the Jeff Blair Show Tuesday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.
On Monday the Mets sent Dickey — the reigning NL Cy Young award winner –to Toronto along with two other players in exchange for four players including a pair of highly-touted prospects; catcher Travis d’Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
Ricciardi, who was the Blue Jays GM from 2002-07, says the deal makes sense from Toronto’s perspective since they expect to contend in 2013.
"Toronto is in a great position to go for it," says Ricciardi. "The (AL East) is definitely slanted. It’s not as two-dimensional as it’s been in the past. They see a crack in the opening and they’re going for it, so I think from their standpoint, it’s a good trade."
The 38-year-old Dickey is coming off a dream season in which he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.05 WHIP while leading the NL in strikeouts (230), innings (233.2), complete games (five) and shutouts (three).
Ricciardi says he expects Dickey to remain successful in the American League, in large part due to the fact that his knuckleball is somewhat unique.
"His knuckleball is not a conventional knuckleball," he explains. "(Tim) Wakefield’s really floats. R.A.’s is really not like that, it’s very hard and more along the lines of a fastball that jumps at different points, which is why he strikes out a lot of guys.
"He’s in the strike zone a lot more with his knuckleball. He holds runners really well, he’s a good athlete. I think he’s going to do a great job, I really, really do. I think it was a great trade by Alex."
The knuckleball is notoriously fickle and is affected more by the wind than any other pitch, which is why Ricciardi thinks Dickey could benefit greatly from pitching under the roof at Rogers Centre.
"One of the things the Jays have going for them is with a knuckleball pitcher they control the environment that he pitches in, 15-18 games at home," said Ricciardi. "So being able to close the roof and allowing the knuckleball to do what he wants it to do in a controlled environment, I think, is a big, big, plus."
The Mets come away from the deal with Toronto’s No. 1 rated prospect (d’Arnaud) and arguably it’s best pitching prospect (Syndergaard) as well.
Anthopoulos acknowledged Monday the acquisition cost for Dickey involved some "pain," but as Ricciardi points out, the Mets can only cross their fingers and hope d’Arnaud and Syndergaard eventually deliver.
"I don’t think (Toronto) is ever going to have to look back and say, ‘what if?" Ricciardi explains. "And let’s face it: the prospects are prospects. Everybody is excited about the names because they’re guys they haven’t seen and they’ve been pumped up by every possible media outlet that’s out there talking about how good these guys are.
"But when you go back and look at it over the history of trades, how many prospects ever turn out to be what they were pumped up to be? Obviously there are guys that have, but it’s probably a smaller selection of guys that have become what everybody thinks they’re going to be.”
But with the Mets in rebuilding mode and the Blue Jays thinking playoffs next season, Ricciardi feels both teams can feel good about what they came away with, even if they’re much different things.
"I look at it this way: we’re getting two good prospects, three good prospects, but they’re getting a proven major league player."