So I'm not quite sure what to make of the Minnesota Twins signing R.A. Dickey for their bullpen. Is this something that could end up helping the Detroit Tigers? My first thought was an emphatic "Yes!"
Of course, I was envisioning Dickey's infamous appearance against the Tigers in April of 2006, pitching for the Texas Rangers, during which he gave up seven runs and eight hits (six of them home runs!) in just 3.1 innings.
(Chris Shelton surely remembers that game well, having hit two home runs. He's probably happy that Dickey won't be his teammate in Seattle, so he'll now get a chance to face him.)
Fast forward to 2008, however, and Dickey appeared to fare much better versus Detroit. In three appearances covering 13.1 innings, he compiled a 2.70 ERA despite allowing 12 hits and seven walks. However, those numbers are skewed by his second outing against the Tigers, in which he pitched 5.1 shutout innings.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Twins beat writer, LaVelle E. Neal III, points out that the team has been enamored with the idea of a knuckleballer on its staff for quite some time.
I’ve heard the Twins talk for years about getting a knuckleballer because the pitch seems to flutter more inside domed stadiums than outdoors. I remember the Twins making a run at Tim Wakefield after the 2000 season, only to watch him re-sign with Boston, where he now has a perpetual team option in his deal.
I know Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has proposed trying to teach a struggling prospect in the low minors a knuckleball or funky style to try to jumpstart a career or two.
Overall, however, Neal is also baffled by this move, as the Twins needs bullpen help almost - almost - as badly as the Tigers. (Though with Joe Nathan as closer, they have an obvious advantage.)
So maybe you guys can help me out with this. Will you be happy when the Tigers are playing the Twins, and Dickey jogs in out of the bullpen? Will those games go much as they did this past season, with an urgency to tag runs on Minnesota's middle relief, before they can turn the game over to Nathan? Or are we just giving this far too much thought in late December?