Ryan Dempster

Monday night's game seemed otherworldly from even before the first pitch.

A Wrigley Field home game on a holiday at night? It made scheduling sense, given that the Cubs had to fly all the way east from San Diego following Sunday's game, but it still felt wrong.

Then the lineups were published and owing to a combination of illness, injuries, and an opposing lefthander, we saw Reed Johnson hitting cleanup and an infield of Freel, Theriot, Miles, and Hoffpauir. In other words, the stuff of split squad spring training games.

For the second night in a row, the Cubs failed to support a deserving starting pitcher with any offense and they lost another low-scoring game to the Cardinals.

With Aramis Ramirez back in the starting lineup, the Cubs won their fourth in a row, defeating the Giants, 4-2, on Monday night at Wrigley. The Cubs will have a chance to finish a 5-1 homestand when the teams meet Tuesday afternoon.

Why the Cubs won: Ryan Dempster, coming off his first loss and poorest start of the young season last week in Phoenix, earned his second victory with his best start of 2009. Dempster kept the Giants off the board until the sixth inning and allowed just 5 hits and 2 walks over seven.

Andres Blanco looped a single over the third-baseman's head to score Reed Johnson from second with one out in the bottom of the 9th, as the Cubs squandered an early 7-1 lead only to come back and defeat the Cleveland Indians 9-8 before a sparse crowd on Spring Training "getaway day" at Ho Ho Kam Park this afternoon in Mesa.  

box score

Nick Noonan capped a five-run 9th with a two-out grand slam, as the Giants rallied to defeat the Cubs (and leave a lot of Cubs fans speechless) before a record crowd of 13,024 under sunny skies at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.   

box score

Also, the Cubs sent have sent non-roster RHPs Esmailin Cardidad and Ken Kadokura to minor league camp. This brings the Cubs Spring Training roster down to 43 (including Ted Lily and Kosuke Fukudome, who are still playing in the WBC) 

The 35-year old Karokura was making his U. S. debut after spending 13 years playing in Japan, and I suspect he will be released (or will request his release) prior to Opening Day and will return to Japan. He probably isn't at the point in his career where he would want to spend a year playing AAA ball. He didn't really have a bad Spring with the Cubs, but he had a tendency to get ahead of hitters 0-1 or 1-2 and then nibble, nibble, nibble. I don't think Manager Lou Piniella likes that approach too much.  

Caridad is a different matter, however, I have him rated as one of the Cubs Top Ten prospects, and he pitched very well so far this Spring and could surface sometime this season in Chicago. Now 25, Caridad was (like Alfonso Soriano and Timo Perez) originally signed by the Hiroshima Carp and was assigned to their Dominican Academy, before pitching in Japan in 2007. But Caridad became a free-agent on a technicality after that season, and Cubs Player Personnel Director Oneri Fleita personally signed the right-hander while on a trip to the Dominican Republic in December 2007  Caridad pitched at Daytona and Tennessee in 2008 (going a combined 13-7, 3.73 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), and then pitched in the AFL with the Mesa Solar Sox in October-November '08. He can start or relieve.

As for today's game...      

Doug Mientkiewicz homered, drove in two runs, and made a spectacular sliding catch, and a 9th inning Cubs rally fell one run short for the second day in a row, as the Dodgers edged the Cubs 5-4 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona, in a game played before a capacity crowd under partly cloudy skies and in mid-60’s temperatures

box score

Free agent Ben Sheets is hurt and has a torn flexor tendon origin at the elbow. The injury happened last August, he tried to play thru the injury and his last Brewer appearance was 2.1 IP against the Cubs on Sept 27th. Missing the playoffs after 8 seasons as the Brewer ace plus being in a free agent year must have been nearly as painful as his elbow. Yet circumstances of impending free agency may have created some controversy as to who is responsible to pay for treatment of Sheets elbow malady. After all, if Sheets was still under contract with the Brewers and if they thought his injury needed surgery,  wouldn't he have already undergone the surgery that is now proposed for him? The Brewers did offer Sheets arbitration, which he declined and no surgical decision was made as his season ended nor at the time he declined arbitration. This implies that the Brewers medical staff didn't think his elbow needed surgery and would heal with rest. So in looking for a new employer, the Texas Rangers were readying a 2 year deal when Sheets physical exam (functionally a second opinion) set off alarms.

From the above article:

Talks between the Rangers and Sheets reached an impasse within the past several days, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. The two sides were close to agreement on a two-year deal, according to a major-league source, but they already had concerns regarding the right-handers' checkered health history. It is believed that the physical examination revealed the tear and caused the Rangers to scotch the deal.

The surgery, to repair Sheets' partially torn flexor tendon, is expected to be performed by noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Sheets' agent, Casey Close, could not be reached for comment, but sources say that he maintains Milwaukee should pay for the surgery since the injury stems from his time with the Brewers. While that dispute is resolved, Sheets now hopes to have the surgery next week, sources say.

Brewers assistant GM, Gord Ash in an mlb.com article added:

We're working our way through all of the details and we don't know the answer yet," Ash said. "Major League Baseball has regulations related to workers' comp and there are procedures and protocols that have to be respected. We're working our way through those so I can't give you much insight other than that.

I always wondered if pro baseball players who get injured are covered under workman's compensation? 

UPDATE: Here are the contract terms according to SI.com: $8 Million in 2008 with a $4M bonus ($12M total). $12.5M in 2010, $13.5 M in 2011 and a 2012 $14M player option which is almost a guarantee to be picked up. And as I mentioned earlier, I'm about 90% certain he's earned 10/5 no-trade rights.


It's being picked up by multiple news sources that the Ryan Dempster Experience will call Chicago home for the next four years. It sounds like it might be for a total of $52M a year or $13M on average. That's a pretty good deal if he pitches like he did last year, not so much if he pitches like 2001-2003. For what was out there though and for how much the Cubs and Dempster seem to like each other, it sounds like the right deal. He really did have a fantastic 2008 season. His 152 ERA+ was good for third best in the NL.

Baseball's fourth season is about to warm up and I'll try and summarize all the gossip every couple of days.

- Ken Rosenthal says that Ryan Dempster won't sign with the Cubs before the Cubs exclusive negotiating window closes on November 13th. A rather wise move by him and his agent. There's no reason not to test the waters and see what is actually available for him as rival teams cannot discuss money over the next two weeks. He still may very well sign with the Cubs on a hometown discount, but that discount will be based on what the prevailing market is offering. Rosenthal speculates a four year deal for Dempster with the Cubs interested in three years. Rosenthal also speculates that if the Cubs cannot resign Dempster, they'll up their efforts on Jake Peavy, which sounds like a grand plan to me.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Ryan Dempster SP Jeff Suppan
17-6, 2.99, 183 K, 75 BB, 201.2 IP
10-10, 5.06, 85 K, 66 BB, 172.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF Mike Cameron
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B *Ray Durham
1B Derrek Lee LF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Prince Fielder
RF *Micah Hoffpauir SS J.J. Hardy
C Geovany Soto RF Corey Hart
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B *Craig Counsell
SS Ryan Theriot C Jason Kendall
P Ryan Dempster P Jeff Suppan

 

The Cubs continue their Spoiler Tour 2008 and will do their best to knock out their division rivals. The only thing that probably really matters for the Cubs is that the races are still undecided on Sunday as the Phils, Brewers and Mets have their aces scheduled. Meaning if they have to use them, they won't be able to go again until Game 2 at the earliest and possibly not until Game 3 of the NLDS. Of course if the Brewers end up winning the wild card, none of that will matter to the Cubs either as they'll see the Dodgers and Derek Lowe in Game 1.

As for personal goals, Dempster goes for win number 18 and will try to keep his ERA under three for the season and Geovany Soto is looking to match or pass up Billy Williams Cubs rookie record of 25 home runs - Soto is at 23.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Braden Looper SP Ryan Dempster
12-13, 4.06, 96 K, 43 BB, 186 IP
16-6, 3.02, 182 K, 75 BB, 196.2 IP
       
CF *Skip Shumaker RF *Kosuke Fukudome
RF Ryan Ludwick SS Ronny Cedeno
1B Albert Pujols LF *Micah Hoffpauir
2B #Felipe Lopez 1B *Darye Ward
3B Troy Glaus 2B *Mike Fontenot
LF Nick Stavinoha CF *Felix Pie
C Jason Larue 3B Casey McGehee
P Braden Looper C #Koyie Hill
SS #Cesar Izturis P Ryan Demspter

 

Nothing like the post-clinch lineup...although you have to feel a little bad for Dempster who is trying to get win number 17 and retake sole possesion of the wins lead on the team. Cubs magic number to secure best record in the NL and homefield advantage is two. A loss by the Philles and Mets and a win by the Cubs would make the season ending road trip mostly irrelevant.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP *C.C. Sabathia SP Ryan Dempster
(NL) 9-0, 1.59, 102 K, 21 BB, 102 IP
15-6, 3.02, 173 K, 74 BB, 190.2 IP
       
CF Mike Cameron LF Alfonso Soriano
2B #Ray Durham SS Ryan Theriot
3B Ryan Braun 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Prince Fielder 3B Aramis Ramirez
SS J.J Hardy C Geovany Soto
RF Corey Hart RF Mark DeRosa
3B *Craig Counsell CF Reed Johnson
C Jason Kendall 2B Ronny Cedeno
P *C.C. Sabathia P Ryan Dempster

 

The last homestand of the regular season and the Cubs will be looking to clinch a spot in the playoffs in front of their home fans and secure their second straight division crown. Dempster goes tonight hoping to take sole possession of the Cubs win lead over Ted Lilly, who tied him yesterday with 15 (Zambrano has 14).

New Brewers manager Dale Sveum leads the troops into Wrigley and will get to send Sabathia and Sheets in the first two games. That should make him look like a geniuis. Sabathia has started 13 games for the Brewers, all good enough to be considered quality starts. The Cubs though are 28-14 versus lefties this year and 14-5 at home. My, how times have changed for our Cubs.

As I mentioned earlier, if the Cubs sweep the Brewers, they'll need the Marlins to win at least one versus the Astros over the next  3 games to clinch. If they can take two out of three, that'll give them the weekend to finish the job before they have to head out on the road again.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP *Randy Wolf SP Ryan Dempster

8-11, 4.73, 134 K, 64 BB, 158 IP
15-5, 2.95, 160 K, 69 BB, 176.2 IP
       
CF *Michael Bourn LF Alfonso Soriano
LF Ty Wigginton SS Ryan Theriot
SS Miguel Tejada 1B Derrek Lee
1B #Lance Berkman 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B #Geoff Blum C Geovany Soto
RF Hunter Pence RF Mark DeRosa
2B *David Newhan CF Reed Johnson
C Humberto Quintero 2B Ronny Cedeno
P *Randy Wolf P Ryan Dempster

 

Please.Win.This.Game.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP *Odalis Perez SP Ryan Dempster

5-9, 4.06, 83 K, 44 BB, 124 IP
14-5, 2.92, 149 K, 64 BB, 163.1 IP




2B #Emilio Bonificio LF Alfonso Soriano
LF *Willie Harris SS Ryan Theriot
3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Derrek Lee
CF Lastings Milledge 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Ronnie Belliard CF Reed Johnson
C Jesus Flores 2B Mark DeRosa
RF Austin Kearns C Geovany Soto
SS #Anderson Hernandez RF *Kosuke Fukudome
P *Odalis Perez P Ryan Dempster

Let us never speak of yesterday's game ever again. And damn, this game is early. And what's with all that pounding going outside my window? And why is everyone screaming? Anyone have any aspirin? 

(buries head under his pillow)

A rough but fun night for yours truly and the Angelfan wife drowning out yesterday's losses celebrating her birthday. It's gonna be another rough night if we lose again today.

The Cubs get to enjoy their off-day with a nice come from behind win yesterday and a 5-1 road trip that puts them on the right side of the .500 mark away from Wrigley. They'll play 16 straight starting tomorrow, 13 of those coming at home and the three road games at Pittsburgh. It seems like a great time to increase their lead in the Central, but the Brewers have a pretty easy go of it as well. The schedules through September 4th (three game series unless otherwise noted):

Cubs (16 with 13 at Home): vs. Reds, vs. Nats, @ Pirates, vs Phillies (for 4 games), vs Astros
Brewers (14 with 9 at Home): vs. Astros, vs. Pirates,  @ St. Louis (2 games), @ Pitt, vs. Mets
Cardinals  (13 with 7 at Home): vs. Pirates(2 games), vs Braves, vs. Brewers (2 games), @ Astros, @ Diamondbacks

So that's looking forward, but what about taking a look back at the 2008 season. Peter Gammons on Friday brought up Geovany Soto's name as an National League MVP candidate and it got me thinking about who is the Cubs 2008 MVP.

Your candidates after the jump... 

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