Is R.A. Dickey Better Than Joe Blanton?

The headline seems silly, doesn’t it? But how much better is he? I believe I’m asking a fair question, based on the contract Joe Blanton just received from the Angels.

The Angels signed Blanton to a two-year, $15M contract. That breaks out to an average of $7.5M per year, right?

OK, so, if all reports are correct, the Mets are offering R.A. Dickey a two-year extension, worth $20M, to his current contract. As it stands now, Dickey will be paid $5M in 2013 (or, $1.5M less than what the Mets will pay Frank Francisco — but I digress).

A bit of punching on the calculator goes like this: $20M + $5M = $25M. One year plus two years of extension equals three years. So, three years, $25M. When you divide $25M by 3, the final result is $8.3M.

So, if Dickey accepts the Mets’ offer, he’ll be paid an average of $8.3M per year, while Joe Blanton gets $7.5M per year from the Angels. Do you think Dickey is only $800,000 per year better than Joe Blanton?

Answer in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Izzy December 7, 2012 at 11:11 am
    Silly rabbit…… the lordship is still living the 80’s. He must have taken the wrong drugs when he made that offer to Wright.
  2. Joe December 7, 2012 at 11:22 am
    Creative math. Dickey is getting 10M per year for the two years. The five mil is based on judging what he was worth when he was given that contract. He’s worth more than that now, but doesn’t get some sort of bonus for ’13. It is paid forward for the two years & the chance of getting more money elsewhere.

    Even then, the answer to the question posed by the title is “yes” … it’s just by more than the contract would imply.

    Of course, getting and keeping someone also results in different calculations and different teams have different needs and abilities so they pay for the same player in different ways etc.

  3. MikeT December 7, 2012 at 11:45 am
    Pitchers on the open market, who are allowed to freely bid their services (i.e. free agents) are worth more simply by virtue of being freely available. RA Dickey signed a contract last offseason guaranteeing his service on the Mets for an agreed upon price. The Mets do not have to give him a new deal by virtue of the signature he put on that contract. Thus, if the Mets want to give him a new contract, they are doing so because they want Dickey for a longer period of time. Dickey does not have the advantage of marketing his services elsewhere. He can risk it, not take the new and better deal in hopes of testing the free agent market and the promise of more money, but then if he is bad in 2013 or he gets hurt then he basically threw away guaranteed money. Thus, what he is worth right now to the Mets is not exactly comparable to what Joe Blanton got from the Angels.
    • Joe Janish December 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm
      All your comments are true, but the bottom line is the bottom line, and the bottom line is Blanton’s getting paid a half-million less per year than Dickey. This conversation is occurring in a vacuum.
      • Andy December 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm
        I suppose in a vacuum, Dickey is making $2.5M less than Blanton next year. Which is what makes him such a valuable trade commodity, and one the Mets should take advantage of since he’s 38 and most of us think the Mets won’t compete for another couple of years.
        • Andy December 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm
          I’m mostly just upset they traded Lobstein.
        • Joe Janish December 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm
          I think we all are.
  4. DaveSchneck December 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm
    If I was making $800K more than someone else doing my job, I’d be quite happy. If the Mets sign RA to an extension before the season, they will bridge the gap and move closer to 2 yrs/$25 million. I think that is Alderson’s 2nd choice if he can’t get the big controllable prospect in return. I am not buying that they will play him without extending, I think it is just part of the negotiations.
    • Joe Janish December 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm
      I’d be happy to be making $80,000 more than someone else!

      From the fantasyland / Monopoly money perspective of MLB, Dickey’s been grossly underpaid three years in a row, and the Mets want to continue to underpay him for another three years. I wonder what the Yankees would pay if they controlled R.A. right now?

  5. Dan B December 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm
    Since we are playing “what if”, what if Dickey is not given an extension, plays the year out as a Met, and has another Cy Young worthy year. What is he worth then? He would be one year older but also would have another year as proof that he is not a fluke. Could he get a 3 year/$50? Do you think someone offers a 4 year?
    • Joe Janish December 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm
      Good question. I think there still would be that “what if?” lingering in the minds of the dinosaurs who run MLB teams. If a guy doesn’t throw a 95 MPH fastball then it’s a complete mystery to these rockheads.

      Remember the A.J. Burnett contract? Laughable that Burnett got that ridiculous amount of money/years and yet Dickey is considered “risky.” Go figure.

  6. derek December 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    do you think RA wants to go into this season w/o a contract and roll dice?

    i dont think he does. i think he wants the financial security now. in that case he doesnt have the negotiating advantage. mets are daring RA, like yanks dared jeter to find a better deal. because mets know dickey risks pitching out this deal on a bad mets team and numbers can suffer because of it…so maybe being crappy helps the mets in this instance…..

    • Izzy December 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm
      Quite presumptuous of you to tell us what Mr Dickey is thinking!!!!!!!! Anyone following him should know that Mr Dickey has his own way and nobody, including derek or me has a clue to what this man is thinking.
    • argonbunnies December 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm
      Makes sense, Derek. Sadly, it seems to me that the way these things usually play out is this:

      – Athlete outperforms contract.
      – Athlete wants extension that not only gives him a raise after the current contract, but also replaces current contract with money that’s in line with performance.
      – Team doesn’t wish to buy high, and gives lowball offer.
      – Player gets pissed, vows to prove the team wrong, and plays all season with a chip on his shoulder for being underpaid.
      – Player then leaves team for the highest bidder in free agency.

      Dickey’s said that he completely understands if Alderson needs to trade him to improve the team, but I don’t see any reason why he should be understanding about the team refusing to pay him what he’s worth.

    • Joe Janish December 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm
      I absolutely believe R.A. is willing to roll the dice. He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro last winter — despite the Mets being against it and confirming his contract would be null and void if he injured himself. If he was willing to risk everything ($4.25M salary in ’12, shot at $5M option, plus his career in general), before pitching like Superman, you think he fears pitching 32 more times in ’13 to really cash out? No way.
  7. friend December 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm
    “punching on the calculator”

    Congratulations on the new calculator! I remember when you told me that you didn’t have one. Have you figured out how to calculate percentages?

    • Joe Janish December 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm
      Thanks! It was a “Secret Santa” gift at the office holiday party.

      Percentages? Easy tiger, I’m just getting used to all the buttons with numbers on them. This is much more complicated than an abacus (and a little slower, but whatever – you can’t carry an abacus in your front pocket, after all).

  8. argonbunnies December 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm
    Suppose we say that Joe Blanton is worth $7.5mil/yr. So, $7.5mil gets you a guy who keeps his walks down, is fairly durable, and gets just enough Ks to not be a punching bag. A solid #3 at best, a mediocre #5 at worst. My perception is that guys who fit that profile tend to be available — if you miss out on Blaton, there’s usually a Marquis or Garland or someone around. So, really, $7.5mil gets you a real but small upgrade over the bargain bin.

    A solid #2-#3 starter is probably worth at least twice as much. The gap between them and a bargain bin guy (expected WAR, if you like) is more than twice as much. The availability is often less than half as much. So if Blanton is worth $7.5mil, then Anibal Sanchez is probably worth >$15mil/yr; let’s say $18mil.


    – If you think Dickey’s 2012 was a fluke (but you don’t think he’ll suddenly die the second he turns 39), then he’s probably worth about $18mil/yr in Blanton Bucks.

    – If you think his 2012 K rate represents a sustainable improvement and that throwing knuckleballs will render aging a non-issue for the duration of the contract, then he’s a true ace, and is probably worth another huge jump up in price, perhaps $27mil/yr in Blanton Bucks.

    – If you think he’s gonna fall apart due to age and be unable to pitch, then he’s worth less than Blanton.

    Personally, I’d ignore that 3rd possibility and split the difference between the first two, concluding:

    If Joe Blanton is worth $15mil for 2 years, R.A. Dickey is worth $45mil for 2 years.

    I think the Angels overpaid for Blanton. That said, if the Mets were to pay R.A. $50mil over the next 3 years, I’d expect they’d about get their money’s worth. (Not that that would be good business, as they can clearly get him for less.)

    • DaveSchneck December 8, 2012 at 2:37 am
      Mike T above makes a huge point that is being overlooked. RA is not a FA this year. He is “worth” $5 mil in 2013 because that is what his contract calls for. Beyond that, he is only worth what he and his current employer agree to. Derek also make a grat point, if RA does not extend right now he assumes the risk of his health and performance. He is bringht enough to know that even though that risk may be low, is could potentially blow his last chance at the type of payola that is being rmored. No, we csn’t say we know what he is thinking, but we can assume that he understands fully the facts. Alderson would clearly prefer to “try” to get a younger, cheaper “difference maker” if possible, with the fallback being an extension. I fully agree with his approach up to this point, and no matter what is being said publicly, I can’t see them bringing back Dickey without extending.
    • Joe Janish December 8, 2012 at 2:16 pm
      Well-thought-out, Bunnies. I don’t know if the Angels overpaid for Blanton, considering his consistency. He’s no more than a Jon Garland or Kevin Millwood, but he’ll provide 175-190 IP, and that has significant value in this day and age. That said, I agree that the least Dickey is worth is Blanton — call it his “basement.” I get that R.A. is not offering his services on the open market like Blanton, but the fact the Mets are offering an extension to works out to basement value is obnoxious.

      These negotiations make me wonder how ugly and embarrassing the Reyes negotiations might’ve been, if the Marlins didn’t sign him so quickly.

  9. Waags December 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm
    I think Dickey still has plenty in his tank. Last year was a great season for him: Cy Young, 20-game winner, high K rate. That said I think the Mets would be wise to lock him up for two to three years. I don’t think it would be horrible money 2/24 or 26 as might have been reported? Fair Dickey gets paid and you know he is a competitor. I agree Blanton is consistent but is not even in the same ballpark the last three years compared to Dickey. 2010 11-9 2.84 174 inn 104ks 1.18 WHIP
    Blanton 2010 9-6 4.82 165 inn 134 ks 1.41
    Dickey 2011 8-13 (poor offense, bullpen and putrid Defense, bad luck) 3.28 208 inn 134 Ks 22 Quality starts
    Blanton only made a few starts and pitched 41 innings 5.01 era
    2012 Dickey 20-6 2.73, 208 inning 208 Ks 1.05 WHIP 27 quality starts
    Blanton again did not serve as a FT starter. His ERA was hovering at 5 again.
    He is consistently worse than Dickey. Pay Dickey and move on.
  10. James December 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm
    I must say Joe that your math sucks. Do you want to start taking money away from players that are overpaid? $10 mm a year is $10 mm a year is $10 mm a year. Makes for a senstional headline though. If you were the owner of the Mets they would be bankrupt in 5 years.
    • Joe Janish December 11, 2012 at 10:08 am
      Agreed, my math sucks, which is why I’m not an accountant.

      However, your spelling sucks, so I hope you’re not an editor.

      Which part of my argument suggested that I wanted to take money away from players who were overpaid?

      Could you elaborate on why the Mets would be bankrupt in 5 years if I were the owner.

      Or perhaps, you could explain how my methods would be any worse than the current ownership, which bankrupt the Mets 5 years ago?

  11. James December 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm
    Benchmarks are important because they are used by players to buttress their case in contract negotiations. If these benchmarks include the past (already negotiated salary) than any one with an underpaid year remaining on their contract could claim that their team should make up for it by paying them more in the future. Dickey is paid less than Blanton not because he is worth less but because the past is past.
  12. James December 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm