Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto of the Chicago Cubs look on before their game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
So I have a question for Mike Quade this morning. Exactly what are you in the business of? Giving "respect", or winning baseball games?
Here's what Paul Sullivan wrote in the Tribune about Quade's decision to let Dempster bat in the seventh inning on Tuesday night:
Quade said he wanted to show Dempster "respect" by allowing him to hit with one out in the seventh inning, despite the fact the Cubs were losing by a run and Dempster's pitch count was high. Before the game, Quade said he would use next week's off day to get Dempster an extra start in an effort to let him try to reach the 200-inning mark.
Dempster had thrown 104 pitches through six innings, and after giving up a leadoff home run to Brandon Phillips and another double in the first, had settled down and thrown pretty well (even while walking too many guys; he wound up with six). But Dempster, although an excellent bunter, isn't a very good hitter and is having an awful year at the plate (.078 going into the game). It's really a no-brainer, in that situation, down just 2-1, to bat for Dempster.
Nope. Quade let Dempster bat. He hit a soft line drive at Phillips and after that, the Cubs would have no further baserunners and lost 2-1 to the Reds, ending their three-game winning streak.
I guess you could argue that this is a lost season and so things like this for individual players mean something. Quade also said that he's going to "try" to get Dempster enough starts to get him to 200 innings for the fourth year in a row.
That's all wonderful -- since Fergie Jenkins left the Cubs by trade after 1973, only three pitchers (Carlos Zambrano, Steve Trachsel and Rick Reuschel) have had four straight years of 200+ innings -- but I can't imagine, say, Tony LaRussa doing what Quade did. Or Bobby Cox. Or Joe Torre, or Joe Girardi, for that matter. Those men wanted to win, no matter what. If Quade bats for Dempster in that situation and the PH gets a hit and starts a rally, maybe the Cubs win the game, and Dempster gets a "win", though those don't have as much meaning for individual pitchers as they used to.
To me, it's just another symptom of this management style. Players come first. The team seems to come second. Wins almost seem secondary to giving players "respect".
Ryan Dempster is a great guy. He works hard and has done terrific charitable work and all his teammates seem to like him. But you'd think he'd rather win the game than throw one more inning.
Maybe the Cubs wouldn't have won anyway; Mike Leake was outstanding against them again Tuesday night. The Cubs couldn't hit with RISP (1-for-7) and the only run scored on a double play, after they got runners on first and third with nobody out.
But I think you have to do whatever you can to win when the situation presents itself. The Cubs didn't on Tuesday night. I will be glad when that mindset changes.