Ryan Dempster hasn't been a Cub in almost two years, but this seems newsworthy enough -- and he was popular enough as a Cub -- to post this series of tweets from Ken Rosenthal:
BREAKING: Ryan Dempster will not pitch for #RedSox in 2014 due to physical reasons and his desire to spend more time with his kids.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 16, 2014
Dempster: "I don’t feel like I am capable of performing to the ability and standard that I am accustomed to. I feel it’s in the best . . .— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 16, 2014
" . . interest of both the club but most importantly myself to step away from playing baseball at this time. The time is right. . . .— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 16, 2014
"I’m not saying retirement but I definitely won’t be playing this season."— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 16, 2014
#RedSox expected to place Dempster on restricted list. He would not receive his $13.25M salary in 2014.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 16, 2014
Things must be pretty serious in the Dempster family for him to pass up more than $13 million. Dempster went through a well-publicized divorce around the time he left the Cubs and his daughter Riley, who was born just before Opening Day 2009, has DiGeorge Syndrome and went through a number of surgeries right after she was born. That had Dempster flying back and forth between Chicago and Phoenix, where Riley was hospitalized, between starts in early 2009. That's likely the explanation for Dempster's poor start that year (4.99 ERA in his first 10 starts after his great 2008 season).
The way Dempster left the Cubs caused some fans to change the way they viewed him, after the botched rumored trade to the Braves that reportedly would have brought Randall Delgado to Chicago. As it turns out, the trade that eventually was made that sent Dempster to the Rangers could wind up being better for the future of the team, if Kyle Hendricks becomes as good as some of us think he can be.
Dempster got a World Series ring with the Red Sox last year, so if indeed this is it for him -- he's a free agent after this year and will turn 38 in May 2015 -- he's got that, and a career in which he went 132-133 with a 4.35 career ERA, 2,075 strikeouts and 22.6 career bWAR, a better career than probably 95 percent of all big leaguers. He went 67-66 with a 3.74 career ERA in his almost nine seasons with the Cubs, with 19.9 bWAR (23rd all-time on the franchise list) and his 1,070 strikeouts as a Cub rank 11th in team history.
I always enjoyed watching him pitch; his sense of humor and attitude toward the game were always top-notch, and in the couple of times I met him, I found him friendly and personable and not the least bit affected by his celebrity and all the money he's made. I wish him well, and if he wants to stay in the game, I wouldn't mind seeing him come back to the Cubs in some capacity.