MLB.com Columnist

Terence Moore

Old is new: Colon, Dickey fit well in Atlanta

Old is new: Colon, Dickey fit well in Atlanta

So the Braves just signed R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon, with a combined age of 85? I'm still applauding. Even before I became as old as I am now, I've always enjoyed athletes who were rather seasoned.

OK, old.

George Blanda comes to mind. He spent the 1970s making field goals in the clutch, throwing passes as a quarterback and winning games overall for the Oakland Raiders throughout his 40s.

Colon, Braves agree to one-year deal

Remember "Jumpin' Johnny" Green? Probably not. For those of us who grew up in Cincinnati during the late 1960s, we saw our Royals (now the Sacramento Kings after a pitstop in Kansas City) acquire this nearly 40-something reject who shocked folks by torturing the Boston Celtics, the New York Knicks and other NBA powerhouses of those days.

Dickey signs one-year deal with Braves

There were plenty of examples before those, and we've seen a bunch in the aftermath, ranging from Jack Nicklaus taking the Masters at 46 in 1986 to David Ortiz doing the unfathomable this year at 40 after he announced his retirement during the spring from the Red Sox and baseball.

You get the idea: Just because you're old, it doesn't mean you can't do something such as help the Braves continue to go from rebuilding toward returning to a consistent power in baseball. About that rebuilding for the Braves: Starting in 1991, they grabbed an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles, and they added five pennants and a World Series championship along the way. They remained good after that, but when it came to their farm system, not so much. So Braves officials began trading a Jason Heyward here and a Craig Kimbrel there for a slew of pitchers who were young and promising. Translated: They weren't ready for the Major Leagues anytime soon.

Braves add veteran starters

Not surprisingly, the Braves slid in the standings. They were 67-95 in 2015 and 68-93 this past season, but that included flashes of a renaissance when they went 37-35 after the All-Star break. Better yet, they won 20 of their final 30 games, with the addition of veteran outfielder Matt Kemp during the late summer to complement franchise player Freddie Freeman at first, impressive prospect Dansby Swanson at shortstop and other everyday players.

Pitching? Well, courtesy of a team ERA of 4.51 that ranked 24th in the Major Leagues, the Braves remain a work in progress beyond All-Star starter Julio Teheran, previously the old-timer of the staff at 25. No more. Enter 43-year-old Colon and Dickey, the youngster of the Braves' new dynamic duo at 42, and they are interesting pickups beyond the dates on their birth certificates.

For one, Colon and Dickey are accomplished leaders of clubhouses, and such has been the case throughout their combined 33 years in the Majors (19 for Colon and 14 for Dickey). With the Mets, Colon served as unofficial pitching coach and Dr. Phil for gifted youngsters led by Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, and they often sang his praises. Elsewhere, the Blue Jays improved their pitching significantly to reach the American League Championship Series in each of the past two seasons, and Dickey didn't hurt their cause by remaining one of the most cerebral people in any baseball setting.

Dickey authored a best-selling book on his troubled childhood, and when he isn't helping teammates with their delivery or mental approach, he is reading the likes of "The Chosen," "Of Mice and Men" and "Killing Lincoln."

Here's another thing: Colon and Dickey still can pitch.

Colon finished this season at 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 191 2/3 innings, and he did so despite his roly-poly body and the fact that most of those on the Braves' 40-man roster weren't even in grade school when he made his debut with the Indians in 1997.

As an added bonus this year for the Mets, Colon shed his reputation as an awkward hitter, but only once. Instead of helmet, arms and legs flying everywhere after he swings and misses, he got everything flowing well enough in May against the Padres to rip the first homer of his career.

Best Call: Cohen on Bartolo's HR

Dickey had only one plate appearance this season, and it was a strikeout, but he fanned his share of hitters (126 in 169 2/3 innings). The 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner finished 10-15 with a 4.46 ERA. Even so, he deserves a slight break regarding those numbers since he was flinging his knuckleball mostly around the AL East, home of noted mashers and smaller ballparks. He also threw his fewest amount of innings in six years, but he finished with more innings pitched this season than any Braves pitcher not named Teheran.

Colon surpassed the 190-inning mark this year for the 11th time in his career, and Dickey recently had this wonderful streak of longevity: During each year from 2011-15, he never threw fewer than 208 innings.

It's all good for the Braves. Just like that, they can use Dickey and Colon to win games while giving those young arms in the Minor Leagues time to mature over the next year or two.

Speaking of knuckleballs, Dickey's mentor is Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, a Braves legend, and he looks great at 77.

You know what I'm saying?

Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.