Over the last 24 hours or so, speculation about Ryan Dempster has really been turned up to a new level, with reports indicating not only that the Dodgers have an offer on the table, but that the Cubs have both newly-acquired Justin Germano and Triple-A starter Casey Coleman headed to St. Louis tonight to make sure they have a pitcher available should Dempster be traded prior to tonight’s game.
There are still several teams in the Dempster derby, but at this point it almost seems like it would be a shock if he didn’t end up in Los Angeles. Now we can debate the merits of that, because most of you know that I’m not convinced that this roster is one that is worth going all-in for in 2012, but we’ve been over that enough times and it’s clear that the front office does not agree with that, so moves are going to happen. Maybe we’ll like the deal – the rumor from last week that suggested Garrett Gould & Chris Withrow seemed fair – or much more likely, we’ll hate it, but I think we can at least agree that no matter the long-term damage, a rotation with Dempster in it for the remainder of 2012 (displacing Nathan Eovaldi, most likely) is definitely better than one without him. He’s no ace, but he’s a good, solid starter.
The only issue with that is that Dempster alone doesn’t put you into the World Series, not on a team with as many holes as this one has. You can get Dempster, but if you don’t also replace James Loney & Juan Uribe at the very least (to say nothing of holes at shortstop & left field), then it doesn’t really matter. You can make a good argument that they either need to not buy at all or make at least three moves, since simply trading prospects for Dempster seems like a waste of time if there’s not a bat coming in the next 11 days as well.
That doesn’t make it easier, since as we know all too well, bats are not readily available. You could pay the incredibly high price for Chase Headley, or dream on guys on the downside like Alfonso Soriano or Shane Victorino, or sucker yourself into thinking Bryan LaHair is ever repeating his April. (I saw yesterday, and unfortunately cannot recall the source of this, that since May 1 LaHair & Casey Kotchman have been essentially the same player on offense.) But if you’re trading for Dempster today, you all but have to do one of those things tomorrow.
Ryan Dempster seems likely to not be a Cub soon, perhaps even within the next few hours, and potentially soon enough to start for the Dodgers in New York this weekend. In a vacuum, that might be a good thing, because he’s a good pitcher. But it has to be seen as merely the first part of what looks to be an incredibly interesting week-plus; the question is, what else is following to make it worth it?