Cubs Roster Profiles: Ryan Dempster


As the Chicago Cubs inch towards Opening Day this Thursday, Cubbies Crib is in the midst of giving Cubs’ fans as much information as possible in regards to the Cubs’ 2012 season. Our efforts continue today with another roster profile. Starting Pitcher Ryan Dempster is now in focus.

Dempster is entering what most around the baseball industry consider to be his last season with the Chicago Cubs. It is no secret that Dempster may be falling out of favor with the direction that the Cubs organization is headed in. The 34 year old veteran starting pitcher is on a team that is building towards the future. A project that likely will not be complete until 2014. That would put Dempster at 36 years old. The fact of the matter is that Dempster’s value will have significantly dropped come the time that the Cubs are ready to contend for a post-season spot. For that reason, the Cubs’ new front office will likely treat Dempster the same that they have treated Sean Marshall and Carlos Zambrano this off-season.

That treatment would be turning a short-term asset into a long-term asset. With Dempster likely not going to have much value when the Cubs are eventually ready to contend, the veteran is looked at as a short-term asset. Dempster is set to make $14 million in the final year of his contract in 2012. Unless, Dempster is willing to take a significant hometown discount to return to the Cubs’ organization, a return in 2013 would seem unlikely for the starting pitcher. But Epstein and Hoyer are smart. The pair of executives are not going to allow Dempster to walk away at the end of the season without the Cubs receiving some form of compensation. This is why Dempster is prime trade candidate for the 2012 season. Starting pitching is always in demand, and come July, teams will come calling on Dempster.

Dempster was named the Cubs’ Opening Day starting pitcher. After posting a record of 10-14 with an ERA of 4.80 in 34 starts in 2011, Dempster is determined to bounce back with the Cubs in 2012. The Cubs are hoping Dempster can bounce back in 2012 as well. As I mentioned above, the Cubs’ front office will certainly look to trade the starting pitcher at some point this season. It goes without saying that an improved Dempster also mean an improved trade value. I wonder if the Cubs are able to trade Dempster, would Epstein and Hoyer still entertain the idea of trading Matt Garza? The Cubs’ starting pitching figures to be on the of strengths of the team in 2012, but subtract Dempster and Garza from that group and it is a different story.

I, for one, expect Dempster to be better in 2012. Though, that is because I expect the Cubs starting pitching as a whole to be better in 2012. Reason being because the Cubs will likely have improved infield defense this season. That statement could be debated. But the way I see it, Ian Stewart is an upgrade over Aramis Ramirez at third base, Starlin Castro figures to improve at the shortstop position even if it is only a slight improvement, Darwin Barney is a respectable second baseman, and Bryan LaHair can handle the first base position. The new Cubs’ way is all about the fundamentals. The fundamentals include being able to play defense. For that reason, a newly found emphasis on fundamentals and defense should only mean great things for Dempster and the Cubs’ starting pitchers.

Words can not describe what Dempster contributions–both on and off the field–mean to the Cubs’ organization and the teams fan-base. But if anything else, Baseball is a business. Meaning the Cubs’ organization needs to put whatever personal sentiment towards Dempster to the side, and act in the best interest of the organization. For the Cubs, that means trading Dempster to a team that is need of starting pitching.