I got to thinking about R.A. Dickey last night, which happens sometimes. It struck me that, though Dickey’s awesomeness on the mound in 2010 certainly endeared him to Mets fans more than any of his other qualities, his quirky off-the-field awesomeness turned out to be one of the most entertaining aspects of the last few brutal months of the season. Dude says smart things and reads literature and writes poetry and wants to be a U.S. Open ballboy and goes on solitary retreats for contemplation. For a while it seemed like we were getting new and interesting information about R.A. Dickey everyday.
OK here’s where I start making some leaps. First, don’t get me wrong: I have always been confidant that performance affects morale more than morale affects performance. And I believe that the general manager’s task should be to put the best possible team on the field year after year and that the most effective way of doing that often involves entirely tuning out media bluster.
But undoubtedly morale has some affect on a baseball team. No? You have to figure it at least creates an environment that’s more amenable to free-agents (though obviously not as important as the whole money thing). And rumors have always swirled about the way Mets ownership reacts to the newspapers.
So I wonder if there’s some advantage to Sandy Alderson and his crew in signing players that might provide reporters some good copy in Spring Training to distract the media and, in turn, fans, from getting all bent out of shape about how there have been no major changes.
I mention because Chris Capuano seems like, yes, a good upside gamble for a reasonably low price. But he’s also a well-spoken Phi Beta Kappa Segway enthusiast who, that OnMilwaukee interview tells us, doesn’t eat like most ballplayers. And two of the other starters the Mets have been rumored to be pursuing this offseason — Jeff Francis and Chris Young — have reputations as some of the smartest guys in baseball.
Of course, it’s way more likely that the three seemingly most cost-effective reclamation-project starters this offseason also happen to be smart guys. And when I think about it, it doesn’t seem like it’s really all that hard to catnip fans and the media during Spring Training, with hope springing eternal and all. Plus, as a fan I really don’t want the front-office worrying about anything but building a sustainable winner, and I’d much rather it just shoulder any criticism than work to alleviate it.
So never mind then. I’m just saying it’d be cool if Chris Capuano would grow a beard and start making an awesome yelling face when he pitches. I’d appreciate that.