Results tagged ‘ Ryan Dempster ’
Baseball has always been about reinvention. Even at the major league level, players change positions all the time.
But few have done so with the regularity, and consistent success, of Cubs No. 3 starter Jeff Samardzija. After an outstanding career on the gridiron at Notre Dame—and the promise of an NFL career as a wide receiver—Samardzija changed course when he was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Cubs.
After a few up-and-down years, the 6’5″, 225-pound flamethrower arrived as a major league pitcher in 2011, posting a 2.97 ERA in 75 appearances out of the bullpen. But there was one problem—Samardzija saw himself as a starter. So when the 2012 offseason rolled around, he headed to Arizona and dedicated himself to securing a spot in the Cubs rotation.
Five months later, Samardzija joined Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster as stalwarts in the Cubs biggest area of strength—their starting rotation. In the May issue of Vine Line, we look at Samardzija’s long road to the Cubs rotation, his mile-long competitive streak and how be became a more complete pitcher.
We also have an exclusive Q&A with the man who is reinventing what it means to play baseball the “Cubs Way,” General Manager Jed Hoyer. We go in depth about why he wanted the Cubs job (which he calls “the best in sports”) and his expectations for 2012 and beyond.
“If you acquire players who play hard—and we have a manager who is going to stress that—if you do the little things well, you always have that chance to catch lightning in a bottle,” Hoyer said.
Finally, we go inside the numbers with four key players—and the advanced metrics that explain why they are so important to the Cubs success.
This season, reinvent the way you get news from your favorite team by subscribing to vineline.mlblogs.com. If you live in the Chicago area, pick up the May issue at select Barnes and Noble, Jewel, Walgreens and Meier locations. Or subscribe to Vine Line today.
CHICAGO—Win or lose, nothing beats Opening Day at Wrigley Field. Though the Cubs were unable to finish off Ryan Dempster’s 10-strikeout Opening Day gem, falling 2-1 to the Nationals, the excitement over the 2012 team was palpable. The Wrigley faithful packed the streets by 8 a.m. to check out the new offerings at the Friendly Confines, including the LED scoreboard in right field, the Budweiser Patio, and the Cubs Store on the corner of Clark and Addison. Vine Line was there along with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Hall of Famer Billy Williams and Manager Dale Sveum to kick off the baseball season in style.
Last Friday, Manager Dale Sveum set his lineup against the Dodgers the same way he plans on setting it Thursday against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.
1. David DeJesus – RF
2. Darwin Barney – 2B
3. Starlin Castro – SS
4. Bryan LaHair – 1B
5. Alfonso Soriano – LF
6. Ian Stewart – 3B
7. Marlon Byrd – CF
8. Geovany Soto – C
9. Ryan Dempster – P
Throughout the spring, there was speculation about the top of the order, mainly over where Castro would bat. Sveum even toyed with Soriano in the leadoff spot, but after a powerful preseason (.316, six homers, five doubles), Soriano landed in the middle of the order. Barney was rewarded for his .392 Cactus League average with the second slot, and, despite a slow first half of spring, LaHair turned it around enough to secure the cleanup spot.
Mesa, Ariz. — Cubs manager Dale Sveum named veteran right-hander Ryan Dempster the club’s Opening Day starter over the weekend.
The 34-year-old will start his second consecutive opener for the Cubs and fourth Opening Day start overall (Florida 2001-02) when he takes the Wrigley Field mound April 5 against Washington.
His 2011 totals of 10 wins and a 4.80 ERA are his lowest since the Cubs moved Dempster into the rotation in 2007, but Sveum ultimately picked the veteran for his consistency. The two-time All-Star fanned 191 batters last season, good for 11th in the NL. He also started a league-best 34 games and pitched 202 innings, good for top 20 in National League.
Dempster will face off against 23-year-old Nationals’ phenom Stephen Strasburg.
MESA, Ariz.–Prior to the second intrasquad game of the season, manager Dale Sveum sat down with the media to discuss the bunting competition, some of the top prospects in camp and the new Wild Card situation.
On the Bunting Contest (where Sveum defeated Ryan Dempster yesterday)
“[Steve] Clevenger is the No. 1 guy right now. Whether he can handle the pressure or not, I don’t know. He seems to have no heart rate.”
“[Dempster] was one of the favorites and definitely spent more time practicing than anyone else. I don’t think he was real happy with yesterday’s result.”
On Bryan LaHair
“I’m impressed. I knew he had power obviously because of his numbers, but he also has tremendous leverage through the strike zone. He’s the kind of guy who can run into eight to 10 home runs a year just because of the leverage he has. What I mean by that is he can hit home runs when he’s not perfect, when he’s off balance.”
“The bottom line is the kid deserved a chance. I mean, the numbers he’s put up. Besides Rizzo, we didn’t have that incumbent coming in or anybody making $15 million in front of him or anything like that. And then what he did in winter ball was as impressive as anything. To hit 15 home runs in winter ball—nobody does that. He deserves a chance, and he’s going to get that chance.”
On Adding the Extra Wild Card Team
“It’s not something a lot of people will care for–the historians of the game–but things change over the years. The more teams you can get into the playoffs, the better it is. You can fight longer, an organization can fight longer. It puts you and a couple other teams in the running to make a trade at the deadline. I like it. I know it’s a little strange the way it’s going to be done, but for the most part, I think it’s good for baseball and good for our organization to have one extra team vying in September to make the playoffs.”
“What we saw last year going down to the last week of September probably won’t ever happen again. That many teams vying for a playoff spot. That many Wild Card and divisions coming down to the last game of the season. That’s what we all dream about as players and managers. You always want to win Wild Cards or the division by 10 games, but we know that’s not always the case. There’s so much parity going on right now in baseball. That extra team, it’s great to have. Baseball fans all over, it could come down to that last day of the season to where the whole country is watching three, four extra games because it comes down to that last Wild Card spot.”
MESA, Ariz.–Manager Dale Sveum addressed the media today in the dugout at HoHoKam Park, as his team prepares for its first intrasquad matchup. Though Sveum created minor stir by penciling Alfonso Soriano into the leadoff spot, he again stressed that people should not read too much into his lineups this spring because he is still experimenting. Today’s game will last five innings, with each starter going two-three frames or about 50-60 pitches.
“It’s going to be a different lineup every day. You’ll see a different leadoff hitter pretty much every day. We’ll probably have a set lineup by somewhere in the middle of March.”
“We don’t have the bona fide guys at any position in the order. We don’t have any guys who have driven in runs in the big leagues. Castro is probably the best hitter we have to hit third. Do we have that base stealer, leadoff and on-base guy? DeJesus probably fills that as much as anyone. But we don’t have a lot of cut-and-dry spots. It’s not that easy with this lineup right now.”
“These guys are giving as good an effort as I’ve ever seen in Spring Training. There’s no doubt about that. It’s been phenomenal the effort they’ve given in all the fundamentals and their defensive work.”
“I’m hugely confident in my bunting. But I am probably facing the best bunter in camp today (Ryan Dempster), so it will be a tough match.”
“You want to see [starters Travis Wood and Randy Wells] throw the ball well. You want to see them keep it down in the strike zone. They’re both guys who have to keep the ball down in the strike zone. Woody especially on his arm side, he needs to keep the ball down. He’s pretty good when he throws the ball inside. That’s probably his forte. But he needs to be able to open the plate up, so you’re looking at that. Wells just needs to have command of all of his pitches and keep the ball down. And have command of and have his change-up. He has a really, really good change-up that he gets away from sometimes and stops using to right-handers. So it’s a pitch for him that he has to have command of to be successful.”
MESA, Ariz.–The Cubs have been working hard every day since they arrived in Mesa–on Thursday, manager Dale Sveum called the team’s effort “tremendous”–but they’re also building team chemistry and having fun. When you put 64 competitive athletes together in tight quarters, things are likely to get interesting.
MESA, Ariz.–Manager Dale Sveum announced today that Rodrigo Lopez will start the Cactus League opener on Sunday versus the Oakland A’s. He’ll be followed in the rotation by Ryan Dempster on March 5, also against the A’s, and Matt Garza on March 6 against the Rockies.
Although Dempster was the Cubs’ Opening Day starter in 2011, Sveum said not to read too much into that pitching order.
“We’ll make that decision in the middle [of Spring Training],” Sveum said. “It’s set up to where we’re good with whatever we decide.”
The following guest post was submitted by Ryan Maloney, from the Cubs MLBlog Prose and Ivy. (Photos by Stephen Green)
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK: If Ryan Dempster joins Starlin Castro in reaching a personal “200” milestone this week, which accomplishment are you more impressed by: Dempster’s four straight seasons of 200+ innings, or Castro hitting the 200-hit mark at a younger age than any player in the history of the franchise?
Starlin Castro reached his statistical mountain top on Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals when he became the Cubs’ youngest player ever to reach 200 hits in a season. Ryan Dempster is chasing the 200-inning mark for the fourth straight season, needing just 3.1 innings pitched in his last remaining start, at San Diego.
So let’s consider what each achievement says about the two players. (more…)
Ryan Dempster holds his daughter, Riley, at the 2011 Dempster Family Casino Night. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Since the Dempster Family Foundation was launched last year, we at Vine Line have been amazed by the effort and hard work that Ryan and his wife, Jenny, have put into the cause. Both have followed through on their goal to raise $2 million in two years to help strike out DiGeorge syndrome, and Cubs fans across the nation have responded with incredible support.
You can show your support of the Dempsters’ hard work, too, by voting Ryan for the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award and checking out some of the great events coming up this offseason at the foundation’s website.