I received some closure from the Ryan Dempster trade after watching the former-Cub blow his chance to pitch the Rangers to an AL West division title on Wednesday.
Despite an early 5-1 lead, Dempster couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. He departed with no outs, runners on first and second and the Rangers clinging to a 5-3 lead.
Derek Holland came on in relief but allowed both of Dempster’s base runners to score. The Athletics finished the inning having plated six-runs and never looked back winning 12-5 while capturing the AL West crown.
BBTIA.com “Ryan Dempster was bad, lasting just three innings in a must-win game (and, in the process, failing to generate much excitement about any additional post-season starts he may end up making).”
All totaled, Dempster was charged with 5-ER in 3.0 innings…a big-time disappointment in a big-time start.
I hardly had mix feelings about Dempster before he snubbed the Cubs on what appeared to be a lucrative trade with Atlanta this past July. Until then he was, unquestionably, one of my favorite players.
However, Dempster’s decision to veto the trade made it seem he had reneged on his word to help the Cubs out in the best way possible at the non-waiver trade deadline.
Ultimately, Dempster got what he wanted, the chance to play for a contender and pitch in meaningful games. But what was best for Dempster left Team Theo scrambling just minutes before the trade deadline with virtually zero leverage and fortunate they were even able to land two mid-level prospects in return from Texas.
If the way Dempster played matters at the trade deadline makes me bitter, so be it. A man’s only as good as his word…and from my perspective, Dempster sidestepped his promise to the Cubs.
Now, I wouldn’t go as far to say I was rooting against Dempster yesterday, but I didn’t feel badly for him, either. If anything, it feels as if I can close the door on the late July trade-drama and move on.
The Dempster trade will certainly have a longer lasting effect on the Cubs than Demps’ recovery from failing in the clutch with Texas, but while Dempster got what he wanted on July 31st…I felt like he got what he deserved on October 3rd.
How’s that for some trade karma.
I’ve posted before how the standings on July Fourth are typically a good indicator of which teams will make the playoffs.
I wasn’t so sure the addition of a second wild card would affect the postseason races all that much over the final three months, but it certainly has with the season drawing to its dramatic close on Wednesday.
Here’s a quick look at the division leaders on the Fourth of July: Yankees, White Sox, Rangers | Nationals, Pirates, Dodgers.
And the wild cards: Orioles, Angels…Giants, Reds.
As we can see, only two of the division leaders went on to close the deal (Yankees, Nationals) and only one wild card team (Orioles) finished where they were on July Fourth.
The Giants and Reds, of course, ascended to division titles and the Rangers still slipped in as a wild card. Even the Cardinals, winners of the second wild card, were just a game back of its place on July 4.
So nearly half the field in postseason-position on July Fourth didn’t make the cut (White Sox, Pirates, Dodgers & Angels).
What’s more, three other teams reached the postseason despite a sub .500 record at the Fourth of July (Detroit, Oakland & Atlanta). Coincidentally, all three were in third place in their respective divisions at the time.
One could argue a second wild card did little to spice up the races considering all three AL division titles were decided by 3 or fewer games…the NL East was a close race in the Senior Circuit…and the other two NL divisions were blowouts anyway.
But the beauty of the second wild card, however, kept postseason hopes alive in those tight division races with teams fighting for home field advantage and to avoid the single elimination wild card play-in game.
The wild cards also made for meaningful baseball games among teams like St. Louis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Tampa and Anaheim…not to mention, held out hope during the collapse of division leaders on the South Side of Chicago, Chavez Ravine, Texas and Pittsburgh.
In its first season the extra wild cards have been everything baseball fans, including myself, had hoped it would be…perhaps making those Fourth of July predictions much more precarious than they use to be.
I couldn’t be more happy for Bryan LaHair. His walkoff hit against the Astros leaves us with a favorable memory of the 2012 All Star in what could be his final at-bat with the Cubs.
That’s not an image Cubs fans have been privy too since LaHair’s decline from feel-good story of the spring and his All Star appearance…to a prolonged second half slump and a reserve role on Dale Sveum’s bench.
Even his solo HR and game-winning single with two-outs in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday does little to repair the loss of confidence in LaHair’s ability as an everyday player, or increase the odds he’ll be wearing a Cubs uniform in 2013.
There’s already speculation the 30-year-old could be headed to the Japanese League, and even LaHair himself is on the record as saying he believes there’s only a 50/50 chance he’ll remain in Chicago.
I’m still of the opinion LaHair’s regression may be attributed to the arrival of Anthony Rizzo, which forced LaHair into a position change from first base to right field.
Whether or not that’s true is beside the point. We know Rizzo isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future, and if LaHair can’t cut it offensively playing the outfield, well, what purpose does he serve on a team rebuilding with younger players also in need of more major league playing time?
Of course, it’s in LaHair’s favor he’s a left-handed hitter with power, which is always in need, especially in the National League. But such a specialized a role is typically reserved for contenders, not teams rebuilding from 101-losses.
That means LaHair’s game-winning knock yesterday could be his final at-bat with the Cubs. If so, I couldn’t think of a better ending for a guy we all wanted to succeed, but just couldn’t deliver.