MINNEAPOLIS -- Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer's cellphones are probably buzzing Sunday evening with teams calling to inquire about the availability of Ryan Dempster.
Dempster, who will be a free agent after this season, had another outstanding start, throwing eight shutout innings and giving up just four singles and a walk. He lowered his ERA to 2.31 and actually registered a "win" as the Cubs defeated the Twins 8-2. In so doing, they salvaged the final game of the series and ended the road trip on an up note after losing four, winning one, then losing four more.
I've always been a fan of Ryan Dempster. I like the way he approaches the game; I've met him and he's a genuinely good human being, someone you'd love to have as a teammate. It would be great if he could end his career as a Cub. But if there's a team that's willing to send the Cubs a couple of good prospects, then send him on his way and maybe get him on a team that can get him a ring. Is it possible he could return next year? Sure, although once dealt, most players don't get re-signed by the original team.
The other thing I'd like to know is whether Dempster himself told Dale Sveum he was done after the eighth inning, or whether Sveum simply knee-jerked him out of the game.
Yes, I realize Dempster had thrown 118 pitches on a hot and humid afternoon. But if Dempster hadn't said the word himself, I think I would have sent him out to at least start the ninth inning. The Cubs haven't had a complete game this year; their last (and also, last CG shutout) was thrown last August 29 at San Francisco by Randy Wells.
That seems like a really long time ago, doesn't it?
Since the Cubs have an off day, Dempster's next start won't be until next Saturday night at Wrigley Field. Thus, asking him to throw maybe 10 more pitches wouldn't have been too much, I don't think -- unless, as I said, Dempster himself said he was done. A CG would be a nice boost to a team that hasn't had one, and the bullpen could have used a complete day off, I think.
It's a good thing the Cubs scored the two runs they did in the top of the ninth, because if they hadn't, the Twins would have had the tying run on deck after getting a mess of baserunners and runs off James Russell. To be fair to Russell, the first baserunner reached on an Ian Stewart error (note, the boxscore doesn't indicate a Stewart error but the play-by-play does) and the second on a ball that dribbled about 60 feet down the first-base line. Two runs later, the game finally ended on a fly ball that nearly blew over the head of Joe Mather in center field.
The offensive stars of the game for the Cubs -- how long has it been since I've been able to write that? -- were Starlin Castro, who had three hits and three runs scored; David DeJesus, who doubled in the last two runs and had three RBI overall; Reed Johnson, with a pair of hits, a pair of walks and three runs scored, and Alfonso Soriano, who doubled to start the scoring in the first inning.
Here's what Soriano has done since the Cubs left Wrigley to go on this trip:
#Cubs Alfonso Soriano 12-for-38, 5 HR, 3 2B, 12 RBIs, 8 R on 10-game road trip— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 10, 2012
The man can still hit, especially when he gets on one of his hot streaks. He's currently hitting .275/.321/.507 for the season.
Now check out his career totals, through today: .274/.323/.506. Can't get too much closer than that. There might not be a team looking for him right now, but if he stays hot, presuming the Cubs eat 90% of the remaining contract (that means an acquiring team would pay about $5 million for two-plus years), I think he can -- and should -- be traded.
Wins are nice. The Cubs have had very few of them this year, so let's celebrate this one, quietly if you want to. It doesn't seem likely there will be too many of them on the upcoming homestand against the Tigers and Red Sox.
Nice to meet BCBers MN exile and billkelly this afternoon; turns out their seats were only a few rows away. Target Field was a nice experience; people were friendly, sightlines and food were good, and the baseball was entertaining most of the time, even though not winning.
Such are the 2012 Cubs. I've got some themed recaps in mind for upcoming games. Stay tuned.