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Is R.A. Dickey a Negative Influence on the Blue Jays Clubhouse?

When the Toronto Blue Jays signed Russell Martin, they likely factored in his reputation as one of the game’s  most highly-regarded leaders. Martin is revered around the league not only as a great player, but also a great influence on the clubhouse.

But at the opposite end of the spectrum, perhaps there’s a situation brewing with another player on Blue Jays roster who may be a negative influence on the team: R.A. Dickey.

Earlier today, Blue Jays play-by-play voice Jerry Howarth joined Jeff Blair for the hour and spoke about a wide range of topics; maybe the most interesting of all related to R.A. Dickey. Blair noted Dickey has apparently had a few run-ins with the Blue Jays manager.

“I’ve been told a couple times John Gibbons and R.A Dickey got into it pretty heavily.”

It’s not known whether the arguments reached Gibbons & Lilly or Gibbons & Hillenbrand proportions, but tension between the manager and one of the veterans on the roster can’t be a good thing.



This hostility between John Gibbons and R.A. Dickey must have stemmed from Gibbons’ tendency to keep Dickey on a short leash this past season. On many occasions, Gibbons wasn’t afraid to go to the bullpen if Dickey was struggling, unlike last year.

Later on, Blair also said he sees Dickey as a “benign influence” on the team, and remarked the younger pitchers on the team like Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez tended to gravitate towards Mark Buehrle rather than R.A. Dickey.

It was also interesting to hear Jerry Howarth to speak very highly of all the pitchers in the starting rotation, save for R.A. Dickey. He noted that Dickey seemed like a hard nut to crack and emphasized Dickey’s hermit-like personality:

“R.A. is kind of a man unto himself on an island, and you don’t want that in your clubhouse. He gives you 200 innings, he goes out there and starts 30 games, that’s great; but you need more than that.

You need someone who is right there with his team, communicates with his team, listens, gets involved with his team; I don’t see R.A. doing that. For me, I can already see the team moving in a different direction.

You have to have people who are part of a 25 man roster, not a separate entity.”

R.A. Dickey certainly is a veteran presence on the Blue Jays and exudes a unique personality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a positive influence on the young players. Dickey might not be an influence in the Blue Jays clubhouse at all.

It’s kind of assumed a 40 year old veteran with 12 seasons of experience would take his teammates under his wing. However, after two years in a Blue Jays uniform, R.A. doesn’t really seem like that kind of guy.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing; two of the best players in Blue Jays history were notorious for keeping to themselves and doing their own thing: Roy Halladay and Dave Stieb.

But the comments by Jerry Howarth and Jeff Blair fall in line with a curious quote from Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail from earlier this week, adorning R.A. Dickey the team’s “unloved ace”.

Howarth makes an excellent point and hints that perhaps the Blue Jays organization is trying to shift away from individualistic players and focus more team-centric approach. And if that’s the case, maybe R.A. Dickey gets put on the trading block this offseason.



Do I agree that Dickey should be dealt just because he’s an introvert and keeps to himself in the dugout and the clubhouse? Not at all; but if the Blue Jays were already anxious to trade him in the first place, then this may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Update: I also came across this piece from Ken Davidoff of the New York Post from late 2012 (just prior to the trade to the Blue Jays), which hints at a rift between Dickey and the New York Mets:

“And, in an underappreciated part of this saga that soared into visibility this week, Dickey can be a handful.

He clearly has enjoyed his rise from the ashes into a Flushing folk hero, and while he deserves praise and riches, there’s also the matter of him having to coexist peacefully in a workplace.

His gift for self-promotion and his love of attention don’t endear himself to most teammates. Instead, his durability and outstanding results led him to be appreciated but far from beloved.”

Hat tip to BettyWhiteonSteroids and HW_Plainview from the Blue Jays Subreddit for the idea. Image courtesy of Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images Sport

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.


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10 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    November 20, 2014 - 1:42 am

    What kind of return could you get for Dickey and Thole? That's a tough one….I'd love to pry Neil Walker out of Pittsburgh, but i'm not sure that gets it done

    1. Ian Hunter

      November 20, 2014 - 3:13 am

      Ideally if you can get second baseman or an outfielder that would be great, but it's hard to tell what the market for Dickey is. Some teams might view him as a bit of a wild card, although he's good for 200 innings.

  2. Drew P. Wiener

    November 20, 2014 - 4:56 am

    I don't think the Jays should trade Dickey. He's basically an automatic 200 IP every season, to which trading him would pose a huge risk as there would be a massive dependency on the young arms to perform above expectations to eat those innings. (if the Jays don't sign another starter)

    I'm sure Dickey had some dust ups with 'ol Gibbers, and probably others that did too throughout the long season. It's so hard to read into these things because the media has such a narrow view of the clubhouse.

  3. Anonymous

    November 20, 2014 - 10:51 am

    As a Mets fan, I'd take RA back in a heartbeat.

    We Mets fans loved him as pitcher and person, appreciated his depth and authenticity, his ability to speak truth, even the painful type.

    RA looks in the mirror, those who don't like looking in their own, are often uncomfortable around people who do. Perhaps Gibbons and Howarth feel threatened by the depth of the man, prefer he disappear to spare them from themselves.

    Regarding Ken Davidoff, not trustworthy, He destroyed his reputation a few years ago by writing some rather tasteless things. I can no longer remember what that was, but it caused quite an uproar, blew his reputation to bits. For certain, RA has integrity, Davidoff lost his. I find it difficult to trust anything he wrote or writes.

    1. Anonymous

      November 20, 2014 - 6:56 pm

      Thank you for giving us a different perspective. Sometimes, it's easy to get the snowball rolling on someone.

    2. Anonymous

      November 21, 2014 - 12:05 pm

      I second this. RA Dickey is not your typical athlete. He became one of my favorite Mets of all time not only because of his performance on the field or his unique backstory, but because he is one of the most sincere and original people I have ever watched or read about.

      Make no mistake, RA Dickey is different. He's an intellectual who keeps to himself and would prefer to quietly read a book at his locker than get involved in the normal locker room hustle and bustle. How anyone can take that as a negative or say he has a love of attention is just plain silly when you have plenty of other guys like Yunel Escobar and his racial slurs, or Carlos Gomez and pimping HRs and showing up opposing pitchers.

      When I read things like this about players like Dickey all I can think is that these dense, ignorant media types like Davidoff or these Jays guys are just picking on the quiet guy in the corner because he's an easy target and maybe he turned down an interview one time. Honestly if some Jays fans can't appreciate Dickey's production on the field much less that he's just a genuinely good person (and a Knuckleballer!) then they don't deserve him.

    3. Ian Hunter

      November 22, 2014 - 3:38 am

      I can't really speak on behalf of the Jays, but I'm thinking perhaps they expected he would maybe provide more of a positive clubhouse presence? I mean, ultimately it's all about results … but if you're a leader, that's just a bonus. I get it – R.A. does his job and pretty much keeps to himself, but after the Martin signing, it appears they may be moving in a different direction and targeting guys who are more vocal and provide more of a presence in the dugout and the clubhouse.

  4. Anonymous

    May 17, 2015 - 10:01 pm

    Dickey may have been a superstar in the National League but has been barely a .500 pitcher in the AL.
    He has been hammered a number of times in his starts as that knuckleball of his is very hittable.
    His latest start in Houston he was again pounded.
    So Mets fan you can have him back free of charge for all I care,

  5. Toronto - Baseball Prospectus

    April 20, 2016 - 6:21 am

    […] come to talking baseball, Dickey doesn’t always say the “right” thing. After the 2014 season, reports surfaced that Dickey and John Gibbons clashed over his early removal from games and that Dickey was less […]

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