Role reversal: Pirates double up Dempster, Cubs

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Role reversal: Pirates double up Dempster, Cubs

Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010
11:52 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

For Mike Quade, the biggest difference hes found managing in the majors has been the volume of information. Quade was the Oakland As first-base coach while the best-selling book Moneyball was being reported, so he understands the value of statistics.

But at the Triple-A level you never get these sample sizes or numbers for specific situations. The game is too transient there. Now Quade can analyze Alfonso Sorianos performance across 40 at-bats against a particular pitcher.

The Cubs manager is no longer working off handwritten notes either. But computer printouts dont give easy answers for this.

The Cubs had their most reliable starter (Ryan Dempster) on the mound Tuesday night against the worst team in baseball (Pittsburgh Pirates). They fell behind by nine runs and lost 14-7 in front of 31,369 fans, though the Wrigley Field crowd seemed smaller than that.

Six days earlier, Dempster had no-hitter type stuff until Quade pulled him after 79 pitches in the eighth inning of a scoreless game. It was a bold move that paid off for the rookie manager when the pinch-hitter scored the go-ahead run and the Cubs beat the Washington Nationals.

Until Tuesday night, Dempster had been so good in August 4-0 with a 1.31 ERA that you wondered if something was wrong. Seventy pitches got him through three innings and he gave up seven runs. It marked his shortest start since June 27, 2008 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Physically, hes fine, Quade said. He just gets furious with himself.

The Pirates (44-88) havent had a winning season since 1992. Their internal financial documents were recently leaked to the website Deadspin for the whole world to see. It has become a place for players like Aramis Ramirez to go for awhile before getting rich somewhere else.

Tuesdays edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wondered: Is this their worst team ever? Yet the Pirates are now 10-4 against the Cubs this year.

I got no explanation why, Ramirez said. Weve played well against them before. This year for some reason we just havent been winning.

During this line of questioning, Lou Piniella would invariably point out that the Cubs (56-77) have had trouble winning against all types of teams this season. It is why theyve never been above .500 in 2010 and will be playing in front of empty seats throughout September.

The jobs still the same coming to work, Dempster said. It doesnt say in your contract: Ill try as hard as I can as long as were in it.

Dempster is one of the few people in the clubhouse who knows what hell be doing next year, probably pitching on Opening Day. For everyone else, there will be auditions, from Quade to the pitching staff to the September call-ups, most likely six or seven players once Iowa completes its season.

I look back when I first came up, I was a young guy who (definitely knew he) didnt belong in the big leagues, Dempster said. Were in this together. Whoever else is here a day from now, or a week from now or two weeks from now whenever it is (will) get a great experience that you cant get anywhere else.

For the fifth-place Cubs, the good news is that by late Wednesday afternoon they should be done with the Pirates this season. Consider it another weird data point in an unpredictable season.

Weve talked so much about starting pitching and Demps going to pitch well, Quade said. You dont play games on paper. And the last thing in the world I expected was to be making a change for Demp in the third inning. But thats the nature of the beast.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Maddon has idea after seeing LeBron in Cubs uniform: 'He could play center field for us any time'

Maddon has idea after seeing LeBron in Cubs uniform: 'He could play center field for us any time'

Now that we all know what LeBron James looks like in a Cubs uniform, maybe the defending champs should try and make the biggest splash of the offseason.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was asked at the winter meetings what he thought of James making good on a bet with Bulls guard Dwyane Wade by wearing a Cubs uniform to the United Center last week.

Maddon's response?

"He looked great. He could play center field for us any time."

Now there's an idea. After all, Dexter Fowler did just sign with the Cardinals.

Cardinals make it official: Dexter Fowler signs with Cubs' chief rival

Cardinals make it official: Dexter Fowler signs with Cubs' chief rival

Last offseason, Jason Heyward left the Cardinals to join up with the rival Cubs.

This offseason, Dexter Fowler has left the Cubs to join up with the rival Cardinals.

The Redbirds made things official Friday morning, introducing the now former Cubs outfielder and switching Fowler, fresh off a World Series win, to the other side of the Central Division rivalry.

Fowler spent each of the past two seasons with the Cubs and established himself as a remarkable catalyst at the top of the batting order. He made a surprise decision last offseason, re-upping with the Cubs during spring training after reports had him going elsewhere.

Fowler turned in a terrific 2016 campaign, reaching his first All-Star Game after posting a .290/.398/.483 slash line with seven homers, 19 doubles, three triples, six stolen bases, 28 RBIs and 41 runs scored in his first 64 games before a lengthy stay on the disabled list. He finished the regular season with a .276/.393/.447 slash line, 13 home runs, m48 RBIs and 84 runs scored for the 103-win Cubs.

Fowler picked up 18 hits — including three home runs — and scored 11 runs during the playoffs this past fall as the Cubs marched to their first World Series win in 108 years. He memorably belted a leadoff homer in Game 7 of the World Series, one of two home runs in that series against the Cleveland Indians.

Check out video of Fowler's speech at the Cubs' World Series rally last month in Grant Park: