Category Archives: ryan dempster

2013 MLB Team Preview: Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox fans wish they could erase the 2012 from the record books. The season had every problem imaginable. Manager Bobby Valentine ripped players in the media and lost the team early, veteran mainstays like Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis was sent packing and prized offseason signings from a year ago were send to the Dodgers in an epic salary dump.

The Red Sox are a much different team than took the field on Opening Day last season. That’s good and bad news for Red Sox Nation.

Will Jacob Ellsbury regain his MVP-caliber 2011 form?

Can new manager John Farrell get the pitching staff straightened out or will they have to make more trades?

Here is the 2013 MLB season preview for the Boston Red Sox. Continue reading

MLB Trade Rumors: Dempster, Garza, Grienke & More

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is less than a week away. The rumors are swirling and the buyers and sellers are yet to be set in stone. The extra wild-card spot has generated more buyers this year.

The NL Central bottom dwellers are destined to be the most active sellers. The Houston Astros have already made a few deals and the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs are the teams who have the most rumored marquee players on the trading block.

Can Chicago finally find a few home for Ryan Dempster? Will the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers acquire pitching help?

Here are the latest MLB trade rumors gaining the most traction.

– The Dodgers have a leg up on the competition to acquire Dempster. Chicago has asked for minor-league pitcher Allen Webster. If Los Angeles don’t want to part with him, they have Zack Grienke and Josh Johnson in their sights.

– Grienke’s list of suitors keeps growing as Milwaukee keeps losing games. Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, and Chicago White Sox all occupy that list. Atlanta and Texas have the best top-tier prospects, but Grienke would have to agree to sign an extension if Milwaukee hopes to get the maximum return for him.

– Josh Johnson is another pitcher on many teams’ wishlist. The Miami Herald doesn’t believe a deal will happen unless they get an offer too good to turn down. They have already dealt Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers, so anything is possible.

– The Cincinnati Reds are looking to acquire a speedy outfielder. The Minnesota Twins’ Denard Span and Philadelphia Phillies’ Juan Pierre are their top trade targets. Span has more tools than Pierre, but would cost more. The Washington Nationals are rumored to be looking at Span as well, so a small bidding war could take place.

– The Twins hot and cold starter, Francisco Liriano, could land on the team who loses out on the Garza, Dempster, and Grienke sweepstakes. The St. Louis Cardinals, Washington, Texas and both Los Angeles teams are rumored to be scouting him. He is a high-risk/high-reward player, but a team wouldn’t have to mortgage their future to obtain him.

Matt Garza was supposed to be the belle of this year’s trading deadline, but an average first-half have dulled trade offers. The best rumored offer has been a package from the Dodgers that would include 20-year old pitching prospect Zach Lee. Dempster’s unwillingness to agree a trade to Atlanta has left Chicago in a difficult situation. The Dodgers appear to be his ideal destination, but a Dempster rental won’t haul the level of prospects Chicago covets.

– The Los Angeles Angels are talking to the Tampa Bay Rays about pitchers Wade Davis and James Shields. Davis is a cheaper option and could pitch at the back-end of the rotation or come out of the bullpen.

– The New York Yankees aren’t expected to trade for third base fill-in for Alex Rodriguez. Mark Reynolds and Chone Figgins would have been ideal candidates, but Eric Chavez is expected to take over the everyday role.

– Hoping to stay in the AL East division race, the Baltimore Orioles are hoping to land a mid-rotation starter. They are finding it difficult since every team is asking for top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado. They are rumored to be shopping prospects Jonathan Schoop and Xavier Avery, but aren’t looking for a pitching rental. Jason Vargas, Joe Blanton, Shaun Marcum, and Liriano are the pitchers rumored to be Baltimore’s trade targets.

– The shortstop trade market is saturated with starter-level talent. Stephen Drew, Yunel Escobar, Marco Scutaro, Jimmy Rollins, Jamey Carroll, Brendan Ryan, and Jed Lowrie are all on the trading block. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Oakland A’s, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay, and Milwaukee are all looking for shortstop help. Drew is getting the most interest from Pittsburgh and Boston.

Justin Upton is no longer on the trading block. I didn’t see the Arizona Diamondbacks being serious about trading their franchise player. They just wanted to see what kind of offers were out there.

– Milwaukee could deal Aramis Ramirez before July 31st. He is in the first year of a three-year deal. San Francisco and the Dodgers are in need of third base help. Los Angeles just acquired Hanley Ramirez, but he was a horrible third baseman in Miami.
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Who Will the Cubs Get In Return for Ryan Dempster?

Going into the season, Matt Garza was predicted to be the prize of the trading deadline. He is still a major prize, but Ryan Dempster is the belle of the ball.

Dempster, who currently leads the Majors with a 1.86 ERA, is on the trading block and nearly every team has contacted the Chicago Cubs about acquiring him. He has the right to veto any trade and wants to pitch for a contender.

He is owed nearly $6 million for the rest of the season and the Cubs have said they would pick up most of the money if they receive an upgraded prospect in return.

Dempster has a short-list of teams where he would like to end up. Which teams are on that list and what are the Cubs looking to get in return for him?

FOX Sports is reporting that Dempster pinpointed the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves as his top destinations. He is rumored to be open to other destinations, which is good for the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, and Washington Nationals.

The Cubs have made it clear they want young pitching and/or a third base prospect. These teams will be renting Dempster, since he’s a free agent at the end of the season. If they miss out on him, they will include many of these prospects in hopes of landing Garza.

Who can those teams offer? Let’s take a look at who may be involved.

Detroit Tigers
The Cubs would LOVE to trade Matt Garza, Darwin Barney, and Dempster in a package to Detroit. They would ask for third base prospect Nick Castellanos, top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, and a few other young pitchers from the group of Bruce Rondon, Drew Smyly, Casey Crosby, Andy Oliver, and Brenny Paulino.

Detroit has all the right pieces to trade for any player currently on the Cubs roster.

Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have been very proactive on trying to acquire Dempster. They are rumored to have a deal currently on the table. No one knows which prospects are in the deal, but pitching is definitely the centerpiece.

The pitching prospects rumored in the deal begins with 20-year old Garrett Gould. He is the prospect most likely to be in the deal. Zach Lee, Nate Eovaldi, Allen Webster, and Chris Reed aren’t as likely to be included, since L.A. thinks too highly of them to part ways.

A group of secondary pitching prospects that could be thrown in could include Aaron Miller, Angel Sanchez, Matt Magill, Chris Withrow, and Ryan O’Sullivan. The Dodgers are also trying to acquire Aramis Ramirez from Milwaukee and Shane Victorino from Philadelphia, so this group could all find new homes by August 1st.

Atlanta Braves
Even though Dempster would like to pitch in Atlanta, I don’t see this deal happening. The Braves were looking hard at Zack Greinke, but Milwaukee’s asking price was too high.

Atlanta is in a bad situation in the present day. They are finding it hard to trade for a veteran pitcher, since every team is asking for their stud pitching prospects in return. The group of Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Sean Gilmartin are asked about in nearly every deal. If the Braves want Dempster, they would need to part with someone from that group. Using that reasoning, they could focus on cheaper talent, like Francisco Liriano or Jason Vargas.

Washington Nationals
Washington is in need of a veteran pitcher to fill-in for Stephen Strasburg, since he’s on a innings limit this year. Their farm system isn’t what it used to be. They have already called up most of their top-tier young talent.

Third base prospect Anthony Rendon is the only Nationals prospect in the Top 100 list that the Cubs would be interested in. The only pitching prospects they could include would be second-tier. Alex Meyer, Matt Purke, and Robbie Ray are those pitchers.

Boston Red Sox
The rumor out of Chicago is that Boston is scared to trade with Theo Epstein, because he knows their farm system so well. I would assume that Ryan Lavarnway would be asked about right away. Epstein isn’t sold on Geovany Soto as the long-term catcher for the Cubs. There are big question marks about Lavarnway’s defensive ability behind the plate, but he could be worth the risk.

The pitching prospect cupboard is pretty bare in Boston. Matt Barnes is the best pitcher in their farm system. If the Cubs trade with Boston, Epstein will get the most out of the trade. They may not get the young arms they covet, but other holes will be addressed.

If a mystery team ends up with Dempster, they will have given up a lot to leapfrog these teams.
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Will Anthony Rizzo Save the Chicago Cubs?

The Chicago Cubs currently have the worst record in all of baseball (24-48) and are trying to build for the future. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein has stated that nearly every player is on the trading block. Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Bryan LaHair, and Alfonso Soriano are all expected to be traded by the end of July. The one ray of hope occurred over the weekend, the Cubs called up their #1 prospect Anthony Rizzo.

The Cubs received Rizzo when they traded Andrew Cashner to the San Diego Padres this off-season. Epstein drafted Rizzo when he was the Boston Red Sox GM and wanted him on the Cubs.

Will Rizzo make his Chicago debut tonight against Johan Santana and the New York Mets or will they hold off his debut until they face Dillon Gee or Jonathon Niese later in the series?

Rizzo has all the tools to be a dominant hitter in the Majors. He has crushed the ball in the minors with Triple-A slash line of .337/.406/.673. In 69 games this season with Iowa (PCL) he has 23 homers, 62 RBI, and a .345 batting average.

To put his numbers into prospective and be realistic, Bryan LaHair’s 2011 Triple-A numbers were 38 homers, 109 RBI, with a .331 average through 129 games. LaHair has done well this year, but could end up being a 4-A player at the end of the day.

Rizzo had more than a cup of coffee with the Padres last season. He had a slash line of .141/.281/.242 with one homer in 128 at-bats. You could factor in that PETCO Park, San Diego’s home park, wasn’t suited for Rizzo’s skill-set, but he didn’t play every game at home.

Chicago could have started out the season with Rizzo as their starting first baseman, but they were smart by having him get his confidence back. He has a hot bat and Chicago could use it at the moment.

I doubt Rizzo will start in tonight’s game against Santana, but he could be used to pinch-hit later in the game. The smart money is that he will start on Tuesday and Wednesday. Chicago has been using LaHair in the outfield lately and should be in the lineup when a right-hander is on the mound.

I warn Cubs fans to lower expectations at the beginning. We don’t want another Felix Pie, Jerome Walton, Dwight Smith…(I could go on and on, but I don’t want to cry this morning). He will be batting near the middle of the order with Soriano and Geovany Soto sandwiching him. He will be protected to start out (well, as much as you can in an anemic batting order.

Rizzo will not save the season, but if he can show that he can hit MLB pitching and give the fans something to build on, he will do very well at the Friendly Confines.

…let the “Grease” nicknames begin. I’ll start, how about Anthony “Greased Lightning” Rizzo?
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Are Trade Rumors Having a Negative Effect on Starlin Castro?

‘America’s White Boy’ has been Starlin Castro Central over the past week. I had an opinion on the latest Chicago Cubs trade rumors that possibly involved Castro and had a post where I compared the current Castro situation to the 1988 trade Rafael Palmeiro.

Castro committed a pretty bad defensive gaffe when he didn’t even attempt a double play because he thought he already recorded the third out of the inning. He held onto the ball and the tying run scored on the play. The Cubs lost 3-2 to the San Francisco Giants.

Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein shot down rumors they were shopping Castro.¬†Trade rumors can affect a person’s confidence even when they are not involved in the rumor.

What is the best way to deal with his lack of concentration? Is benching him the right answer?

Cubs manager Dale Sveum hinted that Castro could see himself out of the lineup tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers. Sveum has been vocal when the 22-year old has made a mistake and even called his last error “unacceptable.”

This wasn’t the only lapse in concentration that Castro has committed recently. He pulled up on a steal attempt because he thought Joe Mather had fouled off the pitch. Mather didn’t make contact and Castro was caught in a rundown. He had a problem last season when Bobby Valentine, current manager of the Boston Red Sox and former ESPN baseball analyst, criticized him for not being set defensively when the pitcher threw the ball. Castro had his back to the play and was bashed by the rest of the media after Valentine pointed it out on live television.

Castro has been the only consistent offense for Chicago this year. Bryan LaHair and Alfonso Soriano have been hot at different times, but Castro has batted over .300 since Opening Day.

Chicago has one of the worst records in baseball (18-36) and it isn’t going to get any better this year. They will be openly shopping Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Soriano and other players at some point in the season.

Castro needs to look at the team’s struggle as a mental test. Unless you are Derek Jeter, a player isn’t going to be on a winning team every year. If he handles losing poorly, he will not progress in his development. I hope Sveum continues to be hard on him. I believe he deserves to be benched for a couple games, but then openly praised if he comes back playing harder than ever.

The Cubs fans are rooting for you, Starlin. Please lead by example and your teammates will follow.

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The Cubs to Trade Starlin Castro, Others?

The Chicago Cubs are 18-32 and have already had a double-digit losing streak this season. They knew going into this season that big changes could be made to their team.

Bob Nightengale of the USA Today reported that every player on the Cubs current roster, except Jeff Samardzija, is available for trade.

The biggest surprise in Nightengale’s story is that 22-year old All-Star, Starlin Castro, is among the Cubs players that the organization would consider trading. He is among the team leaders in nearly every offensive category.

Is publicly announcing that the entire roster is available for trade a smart move? What is the Cubs asking price for Castro?

Theo Epstein signed on as the President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs and hired Jed Hoyer as the General Manager. Epstein came from the Boston Red Sox and Hoyer was previously the San Diego Padres GM. To make a long story short, they didn’t draft or sign any of these players, so they are not married to them.

“We’re starting to get some early calls now,” Epstein told Nightengale. “There might be fewer sellers than usual and a lot more buyers. This has the chance to help us. We need core players.”

The Cubs will move Starlin Castro for ‘two impact prospects’ and Bryan LaHair, Matt Garza, and Ryan Dempster are the others that will be highly sought after. Alfonso Soriano was also mentioned, which isn’t a new development, the Cubs has been trying to trade him for three seasons. They would eat most of his contract just to make space in the outfield ($18 million per season through 2014). Soriano is on a hot streak since reducing his bat weight by over an ounce. It could be the perfect time to talk a team into taking him off their hands

Let’s go back to Epstein’s remark that the Cubs “need core players.” Castro has proven that he can produce at the major-league level (over 200 hits in 2011). He has struggled defensively this year and analysts are questioning if he would be more suitable at a third-base. Unless the Cubs think that minor-league shortstop Junior Lake is a better long-term answer at the position, I would rather have Castro than two wild-cards at this point.

If the Cubs make a few moves and clear spots on the 25-man roster, they will bring up some talented minor leaguers. First Baseman Anthony Rizzo is tearing up Triple-A and will be the first player they call up. If Rizzo is their #1 prospect, outfielder Brett Jackson is #1a. Jackson has been touted as the center fielder of the future. RHP Trey McNutt and 3B Josh Vitters could also be considered for a call-up.

Epstein can’t trade the entire roster. They are an 18-32 team, he couldn’t even give away most of them. Publicly announcing that the team is up for trade could lead to disgruntled players and low morale. He could have had personal discussions with other teams’ front office staff. He did it as a message for fans that he will not stand pat and will do everything he can to improve the Cubs. I can understand that, but it just seems pretty early to be making bold statements.

I’m a Cubs fan and I have been very patient with the organization. I am ready for a change, but I hope they don’t trade young established talent for even younger unknown commodities. You can make a bad situation even worse if those prospects don’t pan out and the player you traded away is voted into the All-Star game every year.

By: TwitterButtons.com

A Sports & Entertainment blog that focuses on absurdity in sports, snarky banter, updates on Tim Tebow’s virginity, and decent sports gambling advice.

Are The Cubs Finally Making A Run?

The Cubs may not be making any huge trades over the next 24-hour period, but their current players have finally started to hit. What would happen if Milton Bradley actually starts to produce for the Cubs? Can they keep pace with the Cardinals, who added Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday over the past couple weeks? Geovany Soto and Ted Lilly are both on the DL, but with Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez coming off, this could be the beginning of a nice second-half of the season.

Alfonso Soriano, who has battled a leg injury for most of the season, has finally started to swing the bat well. They moved him down to the sixth spot, and since then, he has been hitting .383 with 5 homers and 15 RBI. I’m not sure if the move down in the order sparked this offense, but resting during the All-Star break could have added to his numbers. I like him hitting behind Ramirez, Fox/Hoffpauer platoon, and Bradley, they have all found their numbers have increased. Ramirez has had an extra base-hit in 9 straight games and Bradley hit is eight homer of the season this afternoon. If they get their pitching in order, maybe they can keep pace with the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright and Cris Carpenter are the only Cardinals who has pitched well after the All-Star break, with Ryan Franklin finally looking human. If the Cubs can get a mid-level bat or someone like John Grabow over the next day, it could help their cause.

Geovany Soto has not had a great season this year, but he is expected back in a couple weeks from an oblique injury. He started to hit well before his trip to the DL, but I like the way Koyie Hill has called games for the pitching staff. Randy Wells has looked great and even Kevin Hart has looked like a professional over the last two weeks. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if Soto is out longer than expected, but I would like him to get a couple weeks of regular season activity at the end of the season, if the Cubs make the playoffs, I don’t want him rusty.

The rest of the league are scouring the league for trades, but the Cubs can’t afford to do that, nor should they do so. If their line-up starts to hit to their potential and Zambrano doesn’t eat someone’s face off, they will be in the race. The Cubs don’t have any blue-chip prospects other than Josh Vitters, who they hope will develop into something great. He’s a third-baseman, so he’ll either be an insurance policy for Aramis Ramirez, or a possible position change to first base, if Derrek Lee’s performance begins to decline.

I have really turned the wagons around the last few days concerning the Cubs season. If the Brewers get desparate and trade their lot of prospects away for Roy Halladay, I could head back the other way, but it looks like Doc Halladay isn’t headed into these parts anytime soon.
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Gregg Makes Cubs Lose Wood

It looks like the Kerry Wood Experiment is officially over in Chicago. The Chicago Cubs acquired Kevin Gregg from the Florida Marlins for the minor-leaguer, Jose Ceda. Gregg has been the closer in Florida the last two seasons and he will be the set-up man for Chicago next season with Carlos Marmol assuming the closer role. This is a cost-cutting move by the Cubs in hopes of landing a left-handed power bat this offseason and re-signing Ryan Dempster. Wood is looking for a three-year deal in hopes of receiving $10 million a season.

GM Jim Hendry didn’t close the door to Wood in the future but thinks he should go get what he deserves in the open market. The New York Mets and Texas Rangers appears to be a good fit for Wood and have the money to sign him.

Kevin Gregg isn’t as good as Kerry Wood, but for a team that is cutting a few corners while spending large amounts of money, they feel like this is needed to keep Dempster and get a power left-handed bat to replace Fukudome in right-field. Gregg will have an ERA around 4.00 and give up a few extra homers in Wrigley Field. If he stays healthy, which he couldn’t do last season, he could help Chicago this year.

Jose Ceda has been in the Cubs farm system for a few years. The Padres traded him to Chicago when he was 18 years old for Todd Walker. Many baseball experts believe that Ceda could be a future closer and could become a Lee Smith type of pitcher. It looks like the Cubs could get the best out of this trade this season, but Ceda could be a beast for Florida for many seasons to come, until he hits arbitration, then they’ll trade him for another future star.

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