Friday Q&A, pt. 1: Baseball stuff

Via email, Steve writes:

Hi Ted. On the Mostly Mets Podcast, the assertion was made that RA Dickey is one in a lifetime. I am of the mind that RA has provided a blueprint for a bunch of unsuccessful, hard throwing prospects and teams controlling them that there is a way to squeeze some success out of a proverbial lemon. RA is undoubtedly showing teams that the pitch can be thrown hard and for strikes, so it might be worth nurturing.

That’s a good point, and I suspect Dickey’s success will open up teams’ minds about grooming knuckleballers. But there are a bunch of things to remember here: For one, Dickey had a knuckleball when the Rangers decided to make him a full-time knuckleballer. Tim Wakefield had one when the Pirates converted him from infield. I suspect most baseball players mess around with knuckleballs at some point or another, but it’s an incredibly difficult pitch to throw and far, far from a guarantee a full-time knuckleballer will win with it. Dickey and Wakefield are great success stories. Recent knuckleballers like Jared Fernandez, Dennis Springer, Charlie Zink and Charlie Haeger are not. (Steve Sparks had some success too, but hardly on the level of Dickey and Wakefield.)

Moreover, from the Knuckleball! documentary it seemed Wakefield, Dickey and their predecessors Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough brought more intellectual or more reasonable approaches to the game than many of their teammates. As I said upon seeing the movie (and asked Wakefield about later): Tim Wakefield willingly, repeatedly threw 65 mph pitches over the plate in the heart of one of baseball’s best offensive eras, in one of its best hitting environments, in front of one of its most hostile fanbases. That takes a special type of resolve, and a certain philosophical leap that I’m not sure every pitcher could make.

Lastly, and this is utterly speculative (and something I’ve wondered about before): I wonder if there’d be a law of diminishing returns on knuckleballers across the league. If there were a knuckleballer on every team, would so many hitters still have so much trouble hitting the knuckleball? Would managers get a better sense of the guys who tend to get good swings off knuckleballers and figure out the best way to fill out their lineup cards when facing one?

I actually looked this up around the time of the trade when I was vaguely planning a trip to Toronto. It seems like the Toronto area’s local sandwich delicacy is something called peameal bacon, a type of Canadian bacon rolled in cornmeal. Sounds pretty delicious to me.

That’s not particularly close to Cornwall, though. Am I missing an obvious joke here? The Cornwaller? Also, like half of the Wikipedia’s list of notable current and former residents of Cornwall are hockey players.

Chipotle. There’s a Chipotle in Port St. Lucie, and Minor Leaguers — it has long been proven — f–ing love Chipotle, much like most people. Minor League free agents everywhere would want to be part of the Mets’ organization so they could train and play in Chipotle Park, or as we call it around here, the Burrito Bowl.

Seems like we’ll have a pretty clear idea sometime next offseason, right? After 2013, basically everyone’s off the books. It’d be hard to play that card with a $50 million payroll or whatever.

I agree it’s weird, for sure. But if you listened to the Internet, you’d know it was because Jeff Wilpon himself obviously oversees the production of the Mets’ holiday e-card, working long and late at MLB Advanced Media’s offices in Chelsea to carefully position the blue and orange scarf on the image of Mr. Met so that it hangs naturally but does not cover the Mets logo on his jersey. Really, it’s amazing he found the time among all the other things the Internet seems certain he does, from setting ticket prices to devising the Citi Field menus to meddling in contract negotiations to controlling the content of every one of my Tweets. Busy dude, I guess.

Look: I don’t know who produced the video or how it all went down, but I can practically guarantee it’s no top-down conspiracy. Somewhere, a video producer and editor were charged with creating a minute-long holiday e-card of Mets highlights under the headline “Season’s Greetings from the Mets.” R.A. Dickey, as sad as this is to say, is not on the Mets. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, right? If the Season’s Greetings from the Mets card did include footage of R.A. Dickey, that would seem weird, too. That would also prompt LOLMets, without a doubt.

And I’d say it’s entirely possible the original version of the video included footage of R.A. Dickey, since Dickey was traded just a couple of days before the card was sent to fans. If anything — and again, I don’t know that this is actually how it happened, I’m just guessing — I’d figure someone who put together that video was really irritated that the trade talks were dragging out that long because he or she needed to know how to handle the Dickey thing in the video, and the deal happened so close to the producer’s deadline that he or she just said, “screw it, let’s just cut out the Dickey footage and go with Wright, Davis and Santana.”

There are a lot of things the Mets do that we can and do complain about. But a baseball team is a huge operation, and it’s downright silly to assume everything coming from a baseball team is the direct, ordered output of its upper management.

If I can’t choose both, then it has to be Swisher. I only suspect Uggla likes to bro it down, whereas there’s ample evidence that Swisher loves to bro it down. I’d like to hang out with him for one night just to see how long I could keep up, honestly.

I don’t think so. His fate is tied to the Mets. If d’Arnaud stinks and the Mets start winning anyway, people will remember the trade but forgive him for it. If d’Arnaud’s awesome and the Mets don’t win with him, people will argue that the deal was not enough and say Alderson should have done more.

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