All I wanted from the winter meetings was an ace and all the Mariners gave me was a lousy knuckleballer.
Yesterday, I drove up to Bellingham to watch the Cougars play Gonzaga and see one of my fellow bloggers (who just so happens to be my brother in law). The Cougars didn’t play their best game but they beat a good team on the road. I was hoping that the Mariners would make a splash move for Bedard (or Santana) to make it a truly great day for my fandom. Unfortunately, the only player the M’s have acquired has been from the rule V draft.
I’m of the opinion that knuckleballers haven’t caught on because you don’t know what you are getting pitch to pitch. When I play catch, I’ll break out the knuck from time to time. Sometimes it dances and hits the person I’m throwing to, other times it’s the juiciest meatball you’ve ever seen in your life. Imagine being a manager watching Tim Wakefield give up 7 runs in the first two innings: Do you pull him or do you leave him in? With a traditional pitcher, a manager goes to the pen to clean up the mess. With Wakefield (or any good knuckleballer) they can put it together on any given pitch. The other dilemna is when to pull a knuckleballer. Managers don’t like making those kind of decisions.
R.A. Dickey must pass two tests for the M’s to profit big from this move. First, he must play well in the small sample size theater known as spring training. Dickey will need to impress in this brief audition, even though his success will largely hinge on where batted balls drop. A few balls bounce the wrong way for Dickey and he’ll be blocked in the Twins system. Second, Dickey needs to actually be good. Depending on who he matches up against in spring training, he may face a bunch of kids who have never seen a knuckleball before. Hard to tell from a month.
If Dickey is good enough to survive in the major leagues, he will be a no. 3 starter. If not he will be worthless. Should be fun to watch.