Prior to this season, the knock on Ryan Dempster has been his control. For his career, he’s handed out 707 free passes in 1425 innings. That’s 4.47 walks per nine innings, which is pretty much unacceptable.

But his 2008 performance has shown exactly why walk totals are extremely important. By cutting down to 3.4 walks per nine, Dempster produced a 2.96 ERA in 206 2/3 innings. And now, he’s reportedly cashing in with a deal totaling $52MM over four years.

Although he’s on the wrong side of 30, I think that this will be one of the saner deals this off season. Unless he forgets how to throw a strike, Dempster will be a pretty good bet of keeping his ERA below 4 for close to 200 innings in 2009, which is incredibly valuable and well worth $13MM a season and then some. And based on his strikeout rate last year, he’s capable of being a quality pitcher for most, if not all, of the four year deal.

So if these numbers are accurate, it looks like the Cubs got themselves a steal.

And no, I did not mean to rhyme.

9 Responses to “Cubs Poised To Re-Sign Ryan Dempster”

  1. I hope I am proven wrong but I think this is a terrible deal. The Cubs are spending money, at a time they have to limit payroll, on an aging pitcher coming off of a career year. Everything about what he did this past season screams unrepeatable career year. He has had tommy john surgery already and until this last season has never been known to be a guy that keeps himself in the best of shape.
    If it is true that the Cubs are going to be sold before the end of the year then this decision should have been left to the new ownership. According to Kevin Towers the Cubs are the only team he is talking to about Jake Peavy. I would much rather see the Cubs trade for Peavy and go after a guy like Derek Lowe for a 3 year deal. Lowe is older than Dempster but is a sinker ball pitcher, a plus in Wrigley, and he probably isn’t as much of an injury risk. I also think he has been a more consistent starter than Demp. He gave the Cubs a great season but they should have waved good-bye and let him sign for more money elsewhere.

  2. Melissa, have we ever agreed on anything?

  3. Actually, I probably have agreed with you but didn’t feel the need to admit to it. For what it’s worth I probably disagree with Coley more. Also, I don’t always make a point to comment when I disagree with you. I personally can’t get enough of the Pat Burrell pic, it’s better than that ad of the before and after weight loss guy.

  4. Anyway, I’m not sure how trading for Peavy would be a way of limiting payroll. Peavy’s contract is larger and covers more years. Yeah, he’s a better pitcher than Dempster, but Peavy’s also got some warning signs. His Ks were a bit down and his walks were a bit up. And for a guy who pitched in Petco, he gives up a good number of homeruns which is only going to get worse in Wrigley. Again, he’s still a very good pitcher. But take Petco away from him and his numbers aren’t going to be THAT much better than Dempster’s.

    And Tommy John surgery doesn’t preclude more injuries and you can easily make the argument for or against its impact on a pitcher’s health.

    Look, he probably won’t ever have an ERA below 3 again. But an ERA around 4 for a guy who can give you 200 innings per in Wrigley is very valuable. He’s no ace, but paying that much for a #2-3 is sensible.

    And I also like Lowe more than Demp. But Lowe’s going to cost you more. If payroll is an issue, signing Demp was the cheapest way to ensure another playoff berth.

    Plus, this should have no bearing on the Peavy discussions. There are plenty of teams out there who would love to trade for a Cubs starter.

  5. I still think there is a good chance the Cubs will deal for Peavy and I think his upside is much greater than Dempster’s. His innings were down this past season but he’s younger than Dempster and his production has been more consistent. Dempster’s career numbers don’t come anywhere near what he did this past season and that is a red flag, to me anyway. I see unrepeatable career year. The fall off could be significant, I hope it won’t be.

    I don’t know what Lowe will sign for but numerous source have claimed he was looking for a 3 year deal. Every source I have seen claimed that Dempster would get more money and more years on the open market than Lowe, I guess we will never know. I actually would rather have even seen the Cubs bring in Randy Johnson for one year and deal for Peavy than re-sign Demp.

  6. I don’t think anyone thinks that a repeat year for Dempster is likely and that’s not at all what I’m saying. The only area of debate really is how big the dropoff will be. I don’t think it’ll be big enough to make this into a bad deal.

    And how much Dempster would have gotten in the open market is a moot point, because from the look of it, the Cubs got a discount. I will be shocked if Lowe signs for less per year.

    Plus, Demp’s a tough one to evaluate because he spent so much time as a reliever. But the peripherals weren’t real outliers this year. Better, but not unrepeatably so. He was just lucky (hence, me thinking his ERA will be closer to 4). The skills are there.

  7. I agree that Dempster’s open market value is a moot point, you were the one saying Lowe was going to be more costly. I think Lowe at 3 years at the same or more money than Dempster is a better investment. I also agree that Demp having been a reliever in 05-07 makes it hard to evaluate his performance as a starter. I would also add that Dempster was never one to stay in shape until this last year where he began a workout routine to handle the extra innings. I wonder if he will work as hard this coming off-season considering he now has a 4 year deal?

    31 year old pitchers with injury histories that have career years in their walk year leave me skeptical. They are paying him like a 3 starter so the deal is not outrageous. I’m thinking he may end up performing like a 5 starter or end up injured and coming out of the bullpen again. I would rather they went with someone else for less years and taken the draft picks.

  8. Well, Lowe is going to be more costly to the Cubs than Dempster. Word has it that Boras is asking for at least 5 if not 7 years for Lowe. So this comparison doesn’t take into account Dempster’s open market value and I didn’t mean to bring it into the conversation because like I said, it’s moot.

    Regarding the conditioning, you obviously pay more attention to the Chicago teams than I do so I don’t want to doubt it. But Neyer (whose opinion mirrors yours more closely than mine on this issue) wrote:

    “And Dempster has worked hard before. “The Scouting Notebook 2002” refers to Dempster’s “second straight winter of intense workouts” leading to mid-90s fastballs in 2001.”

    I have no idea how true this is. But it’s out there.

    But you have every right to be skeptical of this deal. It’s not a no-brainer. But I do think it’s very sensible. And at least they didn’t have to give up any draft picks either by going this route. Even Randy Johnson, Braden Looper and Randy Wolf are Type Bs.

  9. In 05-07 Dempster was not in good shape. He worked hard in the off-season coming into 08 because he wanted to start. His efforts paid off for his walk year. I can’t say he won’t continue to work like this hopefully he will since it did pay dividends.

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