Dithering Dempster Deal Dies At Last

Dempster Wanted Time To Consider His Options

dempsterMonday the news broke that the Braves traded for Ryan Dempster except no one told Dempster who promptly got all huffy and said there was “No Deal.”   Later he wanted time to consider his options and meanwhile make his next start or two for the Cubs. It reminded me of a fawning kid in love with a hot cheerleader on campus finding out that his backup girlfriend told everyone he was taking her to the prom. He only ask her in case the hot chick turned him down, now all his plans were exposed and he was mortified and indignant. In this case his real love – the Dodgers – backed away from any deal because they believed he wasn’t worth a top prospect. Sorry to bust your bubble Ryan old buddy old pal but , if LA loved you they’d already have you and the Braves don’t want to be your backup girlfriend.

A Little Background

A few weeks ago Dempster let it be known that he would only waive his 10/5 rights for certain teams. Those 10/5 rights say if a player has been in the majors for 10 years and with a the same team for 5 he has last say over any trade. Let me be clear here, .I have absolutely no problem with him exercising those rights He earned them and he should use them wisely. I do have a problem with the way he used them.

Dempster knew there was an excellent chance he would be traded.  He is leading the majors in ERA and according to Ben Lindbergh at  Baseball Prospectus (subscription required)  “Since his return to the starting staff in 2008, Dempster has been the 18th-most valuable pitcher in baseball by WARP, and he’s never failed to reach the 200-inning threshold.” So teams looking for an edge in the last few weeks of the season have good reason to look at him. Ken Rosenthal reported that Dempster had decided that “his first choice is the Los Angeles Dodgers and his second is the Atlanta Braves. . .”   That means he must have sat down with his wife and discussed what would be best for him and his family then decided where he would accept a trade to. When news of the trade to Atlanta leaked out however he acted like the idea had never crossed his mind.

In a post by Mark Bowman Dempster says this.

“I want to look everything over before I make a decision, and I’ve got time to do that,” Dempster said Tuesday. “There’s a week before the Trade Deadline.”

Not to put to fine a point on this; Bull Droppings! I haven’t heard such a load of plant fertilizer since Nixon said “I am not a crook.”  After weeks of knowing a trade was coming he knew exactly what he wanted. When his true love wasn’t first to call he began to posture and pout. Why oh why didn’t his Dodgers come and get him? Would he be stuck in Atlanta? Why did this have to happen to him.  I can tell you why Mr. Dempster, they just didn’t want you badly enough to give up a high level prospect.

I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good

My dad used to say sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good; more lucky than good describes Dempster’s 2012 so far. He’s having a good year on the surface but he is 35 and showing his age. For the first time in a long time he won’t pitch 200 innings mostly because of two stints on the disabled list. Behind the surface stats there are issues. His strikeout rate is down, particularly since his DL stint in may. His ground ball percentage has declined every every year since 2005 and is down another 2%. While he’s escaped the home run demon so far,  more fly balls usually end up meaning more homers particularly against the better competition faced in a pennant run. His walk rate this year rate is down too. That’s good of course except that he’s not striking people out like he once did and that means more balls in play which brings me to the luck bit.

Dempster’s BAbip which has hovered around .300 his whole career is now sitting at .245 . That means more balls are being hit at people instead of by them. His FIP is over a run higher at 3.28 and your xFIP  is over a run and a half higher at 3.74. All of that means he’s been extremely lucky and as the sabremetrics guys would say, he’s are bound to regress sharply. In other words, being lucky is fine but luck runs out and when it does it won’t be pretty. I for one am pleased the Braves won’t bear the burden of his ignominious collapse with a big contract, we’ve had enough of that.

Lack of Respect

The Braves are one of the most respected organizations in the the game. They treat their players right and stand behind their fans and their community as well as any team in baseball. They made an honorable offer for his services giving the Cubs what they wanted – a higher price than your true value – in this sellers market. That’s something a pitcher in his declining years should treat with respect even if the answer is no thank you. An ethical, professional would have told the Cubs no almost immediately and might even have privately thanked the Braves for considering him. Dempster decided not to do any of those things.

I’ll say again that I understand not wanting to move to a particular job or city and that he earned the right to choose. I also understand using other teams as leverage against the Dodgers so the reported two year extension he desired might materialize. Once a deal’s been agreed however the time for brinksmanship and games is over. An ethical professional who knew this was coming would move quickly so that the teams could move on. Dempsters let me think about it a week or so farce is however an  unprofessional disgrace. He told the Braves in effect, if I can’t have what I want then I might consider you so just wait quietly in the corner while I try to do something else. Such disrespect from  Mr. Dempster shows he has no comprehension of what professionalism means.

Moving On

The Braves needed to move on from this debacle and this morning GM Fran Wren said in a radio interview that they have. That’s good news – a day late for my  liking but good news nonetheless. The Braves only need players who want to be Braves. There are other, better options available. But the Braves time to make a move is running out and prices are going up.

The Phillies extended Cole Hamels last night as I predicted they would a month ago. The Pirates overpaid for Wandy Rodriguez yesterday as no one predicted before it was done. That means the market is thinner and Braves will have to over pay to get the starter they absolutely need. That has always been the case. If you are one of those unwilling to have the Braves trade a Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran, Christian Bethancourt or any other particular prospect that’s fine, it is your privilege to do so.It will however be the price for any substantive improvements the team makes down the stretch. While we have needs to be addressed in our offense, we must add an ACE type arm to the rotation. We may limp into a one game elimination with this crew but we won’t win the division.

That’s A Wrap

A final word to Mr. Dempster. With the Braves officially out of the bidding your darling Dodgers have no incentive to give the Cubs anything significant for you. The Cubs will eventually give you away just to get rid of you or simply allow you to play out your string in Chicago.  In any case you’ve done the Cubs – a team you say you really love – no favors.  I guess your professed love for them and the town was just lust. The Cubs will not appreciate that, you could have been honest with them to begin with. You’re more than likely done in that town and after this little episode you should be. Enjoy what’s left of your career and as my dad would have said, don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Frank Wren Ryan Dempster

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