- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

The Devil & Angel on Sandy’s Call

“Sandy, everybody’s on. Go ahead.”
“Thanks Paul. Devil, you there?”
“Here, Sandy.”
“Great. Angel?”
“Good. Thanks for coming on the call, guys. As Paul told you, we’re exploring all our options where R.A. Dickey is concerned [1], and as part of our due diligence, we want to get your input. I think the best way to go about it is to give you each a chance to weigh in and we’ll follow up as necessary. Everybody good with that?”
“Sounds good, Sandy.”
“Yeah, no problem.”

“OK, Devil, I know you have to get back to a meeting with Scott Boras soon, so why don’t you start?”
“Sure, Sandy. You totally have to trade R.A. Dickey. Trade him right now. Trade him before the Cy Young Award ever sees the inside of Citi Field. Don’t let a single one of your fans enjoy the afterglow of his historic season. Get him out of here at once!”
“Thanks, Devil. Angel?”
“Sandy, you can’t trade R.A. Dickey. You just can’t.”
“All right, thanks Angel. If you guys wouldn’t mind, Paul and I would like to hear a little more of your respective cases. Angel, we’ll start with you this time.”

“Sure, Sandy. R.A. Dickey was your best player last year and has been your most consistent pitcher for three years. Furthermore, he’s your most popular player. Never mind that tired line about ‘face of the franchise’. R.A.’s the Met who goes to everybody’s heads and hearts [2] immediately. There’s nobody like him in the big leagues, he’s under team control for 2013, his age is practically irrelevant given his knuckleball and you can probably sign him to a very reasonable deal for a couple more years.”
“Those are interesting points, Angel. Now I’d like to hear a little more from you, Devil.”
“Well, Sandy, you’ve finished fourth every year you’ve had R.A. Dickey and, based on the track record, I’d say you can finish fourth without him. But your goal isn’t to finish fourth, is it? He’s never going to be better than he was last year. He can’t be. Knuckleball or not, he’s 38. If you can get other teams to be confident he can keep up his level of performance, then you should be able to turn him into a package of prospects for when you’re ready to contend.”

“Those are good points, too, Devil. Based on your assessment of our organization, when do you project us as contenders?”
“Oh, never. Remember, I’m the Devil. I see nothing but pain and suffering for you and your fans. But it’s my nature to want you to believe that whatever good thing you have right now can’t possibly be as good as what you might attain via trade or other acquisition. So go ahead, trade your best and most beloved player and get some minor leaguers. I’m sure Paul has glowing reports on all of them.”
“That’s true, Sandy. There are some pretty good deals on the table right now.”
“Yeah, thanks Paul. But I want to hear from Angel why we shouldn’t seriously consider one of those deals.”

“Look all you want, but do so knowing that trading R.A. is telling your fans that 2013 doesn’t matter and that you’re kicking the can down the road for yet another season. How are you asking people to pay $63 for a Promenade ticket for Opening Day [3]…”
“I just want to interject, Angel, that that’s not our department.”
“Nevertheless, Paul, your business operations side isn’t promising that subtracting your best player will mean lower prices. And who’s to say R.A. can’t be part of a much-improved team right away? The outfield is uncertain, sure, and you have, at most, half a catching platoon, but your infield is pretty solid and only going to get better. Hairston’s still out there. Harvey’s coming along fast and before you know it, Wheeler will be ready.”

“See what, Devil?”
“Wheeler, Sandy. You wouldn’t have Zack Wheeler if you just clung to your stars.”
“Excuse me, Sandy, but I have to interject.”
“Go ahead, Angel.”
“All due respect to my colleague on the other line, but the Devil is comparing apples to oranges on this one. Carlos Beltran was a great Met and a fan favorite…”
“Fan favorite? Ever listen to the FAN between 2005 and 2011?”
“Granted, he wasn’t universally loved, but Beltran was a terrific player…”
“Terrific at taking strike three.”
“It was one pitch! Gimme a break with that already, Devil!”

“Fellas, we’re getting off track here. I think we can agree that not all trades of stars for prospects are the same. But Angel, I have to ask if you really think we’ll suffer in the short term if we were to trade R.A.”
“I’m all about avoiding suffering, yet let’s face it, for all my prospective optimism — the Marlins are in the tank, the Phillies are falling apart and there is that second wild card — your team hasn’t proven itself truly viable for next season. Thus, by trading R.A. Dickey, you’d be sacrificing the only true enjoyment Mets fans have, both from a pitching standpoint and a branding standpoint.”
Ooh, fourth-place Mets with a chance to win every fifth day! That’s quite a brand you’re advocating there, Angel.”
“Yet all you want to promise is tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, Devil.”
“Hey, it has to get better in Flushing, right? I mean it can’t get a whole lot worse than it’s been. Nobody showed up in 2012, whatever the ticket prices. Sure, everybody loves Dickey in the abstract, but go check on the attendance figures. They weren’t exactly selling out his starts, not even for his 20th win. Pitching for the lousy Mets in September brings the same gate most nights whether your starter’s name is R.A. Dickey or Jeremy Hefner.”

“Dickey gives Mets fans pride. A sense of purpose. A role model. Those things are important.”
“Wins are what’s important. Dickey had 20 and the team had 74. He had the season of his life but the needle didn’t budge at all for the team.”
“You’re gonna blame R.A. for that?”
“It’s not a matter of blame, Angel, and it’s not always a question of what’s moral or feels right. It’s a matter of using what you’ve got to generate hope for the future. We all know that no matter what Tejada or Ike do next year that this isn’t a contender in 2013. Why kid yourself that it is? Get a couple of outfielders. Get somebody to replace Thole sooner than later. Find more relievers, ’cause you know the current infatuation with Parnell and Edgin and Carson will only lead to heartache.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“I’m the Devil. I know.”

“Devil, Angel, this has been a most constructive dialogue, and Paul and I appreciate you letting us avail ourselves of your consulting services.”
“Anytime, Sandy. Happy to help.”
“Thanks Angel.”
“No problem, Sandy. Say, is that 1-800-Flowers gift certificate still good? [4]
“Like Paul said, Devil, not our department. But we’ll get back to you.”