Dempster overshadows everything else in Cubs' orbit


Dempster overshadows everything else in Cubs' orbit

You could get whiplash trying to keep up with all the Ryan Dempster drama on Twitter, and how his image appears to have changed for Cubs fans.
Dempster isnt scheduled to throw another live pitch until Tuesday night, or more than four hours after the trade deadline. So that sense of urgency for Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti might not kick in this weekend.
But the trade market isnt going to remain static. The Dodgers could search elsewhere for pitching help. A contender could enter the picture and allow the Cubs to bring Dempster another trade for his approval. The Atlanta Braves might whiff on finding another starter and circle back.
All those scenarios in the run-up to the deadline mean that until this is resolved, it will overshadow everything else around this team, which is exactly what Dempster didnt want to happen.
Remember Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo? The two new faces of the franchise were a spark on Friday, combining for five hits, four RBI and four runs scored, but it wasnt enough on Ron Santo Day.
By the end, St. Louis Cardinals fans were high-fiving each other at Wrigley Field after Fridays 9-6 win over the Cubs. Now back to our regularly scheduled Dempster Watch.
We know its part of the game, manager Dale Sveum said, but I dont care who you are, it gets (old). You want to move on to other questions. Theres no question about it.
With the wind blowing out and facing a Cardinals team (54-46) that has now outscored the Cubs 32-7 in the past week, Travis Wood didnt look like an answer for the post-Dempster rotation.
Wood gave up five homers, including one Yadier Molina put on Waveland Avenue, and tied a club record last set by Carlos Zambrano (the night Big Z packed up all his stuff at Turner Field and told people he was thinking about retirement).
Things didnt go as planned, Wood said. I missed some pitches and they didnt. They ended up hitting them out of the park.
The Dempster negotiations didnt follow the script either. And for all the breathless updates on Twitter, there is still plenty of time for the Cubs (40-58) to try to make a deal.
But once a possible trade to the Braves was leaked through the Atlanta media this week, Dempster didnt want to have to make a decision so publicly while he was weighing family concerns.
After being a model teammate by all accounts for almost nine seasons with the Cubs, Dempster was catching heat from fans and being portrayed as selfish (or worse).
Whether or not that sticks, you could have looked to Dempsters old friend Kerry Wood, who was back at Wrigley Field catching the first pitch from Santos grandson. No. 10 was designed into center field and put on the blue flags on top of the upper deck as part of a day-long tribute to the late, great Hall of Famer.
Wood didnt want to go out in May with the final image being his glove and hat tossed into the stands. Ten days later, Kid K got his perfect ending by striking out the final batter he faced, hugging his young son by the dugout and walking into retirement.
Everyone was over Irrelevant, dude.
Also remember that the reasonable voices usually arent the loudest on social media. If you understand where Dempsters coming from, or respect what hes done for the franchise, then you probably dont need to use ALL CAPS and (expletives).
Fortunately for Dempster, hes got the 10-and-5 rights, Sveum said. People dont know whats going on behind the scenes and all the reasons why you accept and why you dont. So its one of those unfortunate things (where people) jump to conclusions.
Hes one of the most class guys youll ever be around (and) obviously very productive when he goes out there every five days. (Its) a tough situation.
Keeping Dempster (2.25 ERA) past the deadline is viewed as an extreme long shot, though the odds seemed to have slightly increased after the Braves deal fell apart.
The new collective bargaining agreement means that to get draft pick compensation for Dempster, the Cubs would have to offer him a one-year deal worth around 12 million at seasons end (and make sure he doesnt take it). The draft choice might be more useful in terms of the extra money that would funnel into the bonus pool, enabling them to go after more players with sign-ability issues.
But the Cubs wouldnt see any value in that until next summer at the earliest (as opposed to immediately getting a prospect or two into the system and working with them into 2013).
And if Dempster somehow stays in a Cubs uniform for the final two-plus months, no one inside the clubhouse is going to complain.
It would be a nice issue if we have him the rest of the year, Sveum said. Were only going to be a better team with him on the field this year. So as far as issues, theres not going to be any.

Briefly: What to know about how Trevor Bauer matches up against the Cubs

Briefly: What to know about how Trevor Bauer matches up against the Cubs

CLEVELAND — Trevor Bauer is confident his pinky finger won’t burst open in Game 2 of the World Series, as it did in his abbreviated start in the American League Championship Series after he sliced it while repairing his drone. 

If that bizarre storyline is put to bed Wednesday night in the cold, damp conditions at Progressive Field, then what can the Cubs expect from the eccentric 25-year-old right-hander?

Bauer appeared in 35 games for the Cleveland Indians in 2016, starting 28 and throwing 190 innings with a 4.26 ERA and 3.99 FIP. But those numbers are skewed a bit: Bauer had a 3.20 ERA in 101 innings in the first half of the season with 35 walks, 91 strikeouts and eight home runs allowed. In 89 innings in the second half of 2016, covering 15 starts, Bauer had a 5.36 ERA with the same amount of walks (35) and more home runs allowed (12). 

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Bauer is prone to wildness, having issued three or more walks in nine of his appearances this year, including a five-walk, eight-run start against Minnesota Aug. 3. Still, Bauer averaged 6 1/3 innings per start in the regular season, averaging just under four pitches per batter faced. 

The biggest key for the Cubs’ patient lineup, though, may not be forcing his pitch count up — it’ll be getting to him early, given Terry Francona’s aggressive bullpen management means they may not face him a third time through the order. That’s where Bauer’s been the most vulnerable, allowing a .283/.338/.481 slash line (an .820 OPS) compared to a .671 OPS the first time through and a .675 OPS the second time through. Even if Andrew Miller, who threw 46 pitches on Tuesday, isn’t available, it’d be a surprise to see Bauer stay in beyond 80 or so pitches, assuming his finger holds up. 

“I don't think that finger's going to be the reason he wins or loses,” Francona said, though he added he thought that before Bauer’s ALCS Game 3 start, too. 

In Game 1, Jon Lester doesn't quite live up to his World Series reputation: 'We got a long ways to go'

In Game 1, Jon Lester doesn't quite live up to his World Series reputation: 'We got a long ways to go'

CLEVELAND – While the Cubs came into this World Series as the heavy favorites, the team with the global following and baseball’s best roster on paper, Jon Lester understood the challenge ahead. The Cleveland Indians would counter with their own Game 1 ace, a dynamic reliever changing the way we think about bullpens and a future Hall of Fame manager.

That’s how it played out in a 6-0 game that felt a lot closer, Corey Kluber pitching like a Cy Young Award winner, Andrew Miller handling the seventh and eighth innings and Terry Francona improving his record to 9-0 in World Series games.     

Welcome to “Believeland,” where the Fourth Street bars on Tuesday were buzzing more than seven hours before first pitch. That night, LeBron James and the Cavaliers would get their championship rings and watch the banner-raising ceremony at Quicken Loans Arena, just up the street from Progressive Field.

By the first inning – when pitching coach Chris Bosio had to walk out to the mound to talk to Lester – the red video ribbons lining the stadium said: “CLEVELAND AGAINST THE WORLD.” With the bases loaded, Lester had just drilled Brandon Guyer with a pitch, forcing in a second run, a sequence set in motion by walks to Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez’s soft infield single up the third-base line.

It didn’t matter that Lester would eventually settle down and pretty much control this Cleveland lineup. (Except for that rocket Roberto Perez launched off the left-field railing for a solo homer and a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning.) Or that the Indians didn’t run all over the bases, with Francisco Lindor going 1-for-2 in stolen bases. (“Whatever, it’s happened all year," Lester said.)

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This is Cleveland’s blueprint for October, maybe its only chance to win its first World Series since 1948.

“It’s always important (to get a lead), no matter what time of year it is,” Lester said. “It makes a manager’s job a lot easier. It makes your job a lot easier. When you give a guy like Kluber – who’s locked in from pitch one – two runs in the first, it makes his job a lot easier. I know the feeling on the other side. You’re just able to attack differently.

“With the bullpens and all that stuff that they’re setting up nowadays, all you got to do is get through six.”

Lester kept it a 3-0 game, but didn’t finish the sixth inning, a rare October night where he didn’t seem to be automatic. Until Tuesday night, he had gone 3-0 in three World Series starts, allowing only one earned run in 21 innings.

Lester won his two World Series rings with the Boston Red Sox, overlapping with Francona and Miller at different points. This is why the Cubs gave Lester a $155 million contract, to set the tone on the mound and within the clubhouse.

Near the end of a 103-win regular season – and even after winning the franchise’s first pennant in 71 years – Lester has offered colorful versions of: We haven’t done anything yet.

But Lester – the National League Championship Series co-MVP after putting up a 1.38 ERA against the Los Angeles Dodgers and watching the Cubs win both of those starts – also doesn’t do overreactions to losses.

“We got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “If we win tomorrow, we’re right back in it. Just like LA – everybody counted us out after Game 3. They said we were the worst best team in baseball. We’re here. We’re not giving up.

“I know my guys. I know my team. And I know that nobody in this clubhouse is giving anything up.”