Let's start off with the big question following the R.A. Dickey trade: How good are the Blue Jays? We turn to ESPN Insider Dan Szymborski and his trusty projection system. Without giving away the whole article, Dan does project the Jays as the team to beat in the AL East, with a 93-69 record:
Dickey's unlikely to be nearly 6 wins above replacement again in the American League in 2012 -- pitchers aren't immune to regression and he's moving to a league and park that will likely result in more homers allowed -- but he doesn't need to be a Cy Young winner in 2013 to push Toronto's playoff chances forward. The ZiPS projection system projects Dickey at a 3.88 ERA in 194 innings in Toronto, good enough to be a 4-WAR season. Coupled with the Melky Cabrera signing, ZiPS now estimates the talent of Toronto's roster at 93 wins, making the Blue Jays the early favorites going into the season.
(Zack) Wheeler and (Travis) d'Arnaud very well could be the battery on Opening Day for Triple-A Las Vegas, the Mets' new affiliate, on April 4 in Sacramento, Calif. -- and in Flushing at some point during the second half of the 2013 season. And, albeit with the caution that prospects do not always materialize as envisioned, Matt Harvey and Wheeler could be joined by (Noah) Syndergaard as well as fellow prospect Michael Fulmer for a stout young rotation come 2015.
Eno Sarris of FanGraphs looks at Blue Jays prospects who played in the big-hitting environment of Las Vegas and what happened as they hit the majors:
It’s not brain surgery to say that an offense-friendly park can help a player put up friendly offensive numbers. It is still sobering to see that D’Arnaud had an almost identical ISO in Las Vegas as (J.P.) Arencibia, at almost identical ages, too. If you characterized them generally, you could say that they were both slugging catchers with below-average walk rates and average-ish strikeout rates that enjoyed friendly high-minors hitting environments. Too many similarities between these two hitters might make Mets fans squeamish. That one-player comp ignores the scouting, which has consistently favored D’Arnaud’s hitting approach and his developing defensive skills. That isn’t to say that there isn’t some disagreement about D’Arnaud’s ability to receive, even if there isn’t any doubt he’s a top-two catching prospect in baseball.
Matthias Koster looks inside Dickey's numbers for 2012 with some Pitch F/X data:
As the strike data indicates, Dickey throws strikes early and often. The swing rate is near the top of the MLB. When opponents do not swing, the ump comes to Dickey’s aid and calls strikes in the 92nd percentile. In-turn, this leads to the high chase percentage. Long story short -- opponents have no choice but to hack away at pitches early in AB’s.
Rany Jazayerli has an in-depth look at Dickey at Grantland, writing:
The Mets, for whatever reason, didn't place a priority on the results Dickey achieved for them. They were unable to appreciate the gem they had in their hands. Fortunately for Dickey, Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays understand that while Dickey looks like a batting practice pitcher on the mound, he looks like Tom Seaver in the box score.
At this time, then, it is wise to remember three names: Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and Luis Perez, all of whom underwent Tommy John tendon transplant surgery in 2012. If Anthopoulos is willing to include the pitching crown jewels in any deal to make his team better in 2013, part of the reason is the knowledge that those three could be ready to contribute in 2014. Plus, that pitching sage John Farrell suggested this season that he thought the "Lansing 3" (Syndergaard, [Justin] Nicolino and Aaron Sanchez) were three years away from contributing at the major-league level.