The Ryan Dempster Dilemma


"He pitches a lot of innings.”"

When a statement like that is tossed out about a pitcher the storm warning flags are fluttering.

Ryan Dempster appears to be everything you want in a teammate and even a neighbor. Dempster says all the rights things, especially when he was sent to the bullpen in the playoffs. Dempster is an easy interview, not an excuse machine, a jovial person, parties with the best of them and pitches a lot of innings. Nov 2, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster walks along Boylston Street during the World Series parade and celebration. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Now what about those innings?

Dempster took the ball for 29 starts and finished with a 4.57 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. Just what you would expect from a #5 starter. Very similar to his toe dip in the AL in 2012. Certainly nothing special.

Dempster certainly contributed as the Sox, if my aged memory is correct, did win a World Series. However, Dempster’s post season contribution was minimal with a three inning effort. One inning against each post season opponent.

So where does Dempster fit in for 2014?

His salary is difficult to move. A tad over 13M. He goes the Sox will have to pony-up some serious contributions to that total. The return would probably be the proverbial “who” that sends you to Baseball-Reference to see just “who” is.

So what do you do with him?

IMO Dempster is just a very expensive insurance policy. Clay Buchholz, primarily, is the one that appears one step away from triage with every pitch. And if we learn anything from history the Sox never seem to have enough starters. Remember the what are we going to do with John Smoltz controversy?

The Sox have a projected five man rotation and at this point Dempster is sixth. That means relief or spot starter. That sixth could go lower if development trends continue regarding the plethora of minor league talent.

Maybe a market will be created? Dempster has done rather well in the NL, so just maybe a market will surface that will lower the Red Sox contributions and make a transfer to another roster possible. Injuries, salary disputes, vengeful GM’s, managerial doghouses and minor league phenom’s being not so phenomenal could open up possibilities.

I’m sure Ben Cherington will tell prospective suitors that “He pitches a lot of innings.”