David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
ROSEMONT, Ill. - It's one of the only things the Mets really have to look forward to in what already is shaping up to be another cold, depressing winter. Think ahead a few months from now, to an unseasonably warm April day at Citi Field, and the chance to see R.A. Dickey again wearing the home uniform.
Imagine that. Dickey has.
"I certainly would love to stand at the plate on Opening Day, lift up the Cy Young trophy and tell everybody they were a part of this," Dickey said Wednesday night minutes after winning. "I don't mind talking about that. And I have hope that will happen. I really do."
Call us naïve, maybe even stupid. But this needs to happen. Last week, during the GM meetings in Palm Springs, Sandy Alderson said it would be "unusual" to trade a Cy Young winner weeks after his coronation, and at the same time, sounded intrigued by the idea, almost as if to prove to everyone just how detached he could be from this whole mess of a franchise.
Well, it's working. Alderson has done an excellent job transforming Dickey into another commodity to be traded away, for an agonizing rebuilding process he may not even stick around to see to its fruition (he's in third of a four-year deal).
As for everyone who is invested in the Mets -- financially, emotionally, spiritually -- and has been for decades, here's what you get: to see your Cy Young winner write more chapters to his amazing story for another team in another city. Maybe even by beating the Mets.
We all know the upside to this scenario. Trading Dickey should yield an important piece or two, such as a badly needed power-hitting outfielder or a promising young catcher. It also would save the Mets heaps of cash, of course, as they could skate on the roughly $30-$40 million Dickey is likely to get with an extension, be it two or three years.
It's very tempting, and the Mets have become so comfortable with flushing seasons down the toilet for the sake of 2014 they hardly seem fazed by the concept of trading Dickey. Or at least pretend to be, from a negotiating standpoint.
But doesn't it mean something to have Dickey, one of the sport's most fascinating characters at the moment, stay with the Mets? Baseball is an entertainment business, and there are few players in the game more entertaining than this 38-year-old knuckleballer, if any. That has value, too. "I hope that [Alderson] thinks that I help the New York Mets be a better team, and we'll see as time goes by," Dickey said. "But I've loved nothing more in my baseball career than being a New York Met."
Dickey has a say in this, obviously. If he truly enjoyed his time with the Mets, then Dickey can work with Alderson to find some middle ground and stay right where he is. There also is a third scenario. The Mets have Dickey next season anyway for only $5 million, and they could always choose to bring him back for the walk year, then see how both he and the team performs.
What's important now is keeping Dickey around long enough to start next season with the Mets, to take the mound on Opening Day, to celebrate the fairy tale accomplishment of 2012 and the possibility of a brighter future at Citi Field.
Rebuilding the Mets doesn't have to mean torturing everyone in the process. The joy Dickey provided last season -- do you still remember what it was like that day when he won No. 20 at Citi Field? -- shouldn't have to have to end with a December phone call.