I get the sense there’s more to Ryan Dempster’s dugout tantrum than meets the eye.
Dempster says he was upset Dale Sveum pulled him after 6 innings and having allowed the go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) run to score during the Cubs 3-2 loss vs. Pittsburgh.
That seems reasonable. But what about what Dempster didn’t say?
It’s purely my speculation, but perhaps part of Dempster’s frustration taken out on the water cooler was the realization his final days wearing a Cubs uniform wasn’t turning out the way he envisioned.
It’s not ridiculous to think the drama of the past few days didn’t creep into Dempster’s head before, during or after his departure from Wednesday’s start, which is why I believe Dempster’s dugout tirade was fueled more from the unraveling of this past week than Sveum’s completely reasonable decision to pull his pitcher from the game.
Not only was Ryan coming off a tough loss against St. Louis, he was also dealing with the disappointment of not being traded to the Dodgers and then alienating a large portion of Cubs fans on Monday by exercising his 10-5 rights to refuse a trade to Atlanta–a team reportedly on Dempster’s approved teams to be dealt list.
Meanwhile, Dempster’s continued indecision approving a trade anywhere other than Los Angeles has only further ruffled feathers leading up to his recent start. The pressure was mounting, Sveum merely lifted the lid.
ARE THE DODGERS STILL AN OPTION?
The Dodgers, who staunchly refused to come off its top pitching prospects in trade negotiations for Demspter last week, will now barter with Chicago knowing Theo & Jed have virtually zero leverage in peddling the 35-year-old rental.
It obviously posses a high-hurdle for the Cubs front office who now find themselves in a precarious spot: trade Dempster to the Dodgers for donuts, or risk playing chicken with the man who could toe the July 31 trade deadline still undecided about joining the Braves, or anyone else for that matter?
IS THIS WHAT DEMPSTER REALLY WANTED?
Say what you will about Demps, but the man’s no dummy. I’m certain he’s well attuned to his potential options, the ticking trade clock, and the volatile backlash from Cubs fans.
There’s simply no believing this is how Dempster wanted his Cubs farewell to play out–muddied up on Twitter and stealing the spotlight of baseball’s biggest trade rumors. But that perfect farewell, as Paul Sullivan of the Tribune alluded to, seems to have already come and gone.
For me that perfect ending came when Dempster tossed six shutout innings against the Diamondbacks on Saturday July 14 at Wrigley Field when he not only extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 33.0, but also retained the major’s best ERA and had won his fifth straight outing.
It presented the optimal chance for Team Theo to deal Dempster, his trade value was likely never to be higher, and what better sendoff could Dempster really expect?
Lord only knows if Dempster will depart Chicago via trade at this point. I sure as heck have given up making such predictions. But whether he stays, or he goes, it’s very possible Dempster can never recover from his fallout with Cubs fans after this week.
DEMPSTER’S DAMAGE CONTROL
I see three scenarios that could cure the Dempster hurt once and for all.
- 1.) Dempster throws a complete game shutout against the Pirates at Wrigley Field on Monday and then happily tells TheoJed he’ll approve any deal to the bust suitor for the Cubs.
- 2.) The Dodgers agree to trade one of its top pitching prospects in return for Dempster sparking a no harm, no foul reaction from Cubs fans.
- 3.) The Braves reconsider trading for Dempster and agree, at least in part, to the original framework of the trade that included highly regarded pitching prospect Randall Delgado.
We could stretch our imaginations to come up with a fourth scenario, but why waste our time? The way things are developing it’s probably more likely to happen than the first three.
Whatever the case may be, I’m still hopeful this maddening situation ends the way I expected it to days ago–a win for Dempster and for the Cubs.