Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting to Know: Ryan Dempster

Name: Ryan Dempster

Position: Starting Pitcher

Bats/Throws: Right/Right

Opening Day Age: 33

Uniform Number: 46

Is there anything in this post about Dempster that I didn't already know?:  Probably not. 

Dempster is one of the most easily accessible Cubs and is a favorite of fans and the media.  It is unlikely I have turned up any new information on him from my couch.

Does he do a good Harry Caray impression?:  Not really.

He does an impression that is more of a Will Ferrell-doing-Harry-Caray impression, but whatever.  For a long time, no one did a George H.W. Bush impression and then Dana Carvey did his and suddenly everyone was doing a Bush impression that was actually a Carvey-doing-Bush impression. That's generally how impressions that hit the mainstream work.

My problem with Dempster's Harry impression is that it isn't funny.  It's not an homage because he makes Harry sound like a drunken stroke victim, which may have been accurate, but it isn't something that honors Harry's memory.  Meanwhile, everyone knows how to use the "Samardzija backwards is ajizdramas (heh heh)" or the "Paaaaahhhhped it up" bits when doing Harry, so he gets no points for originality.
How is his daughter doing?: Better.

"She's doing well. She's still unable to swallow but she's doing well. She's a tough little fighter."
As you may remember, Dempster's daughter was born with DiGeorge syndrome caused by a defect in a chromosome.  She has undergone numerous surgeries and is currently learning how to swallow, which doesn't sound like it should be difficult, but that is because we all knew how to do it instinctively. 
"You're taking an involuntary muscle and turning it into a voluntary muscle. You are teaching her to swallow," Dempster said.

Apparently, she is doing well enough where she will be able to travel with the rest of the family to Arizona while Dempster readies for the season.

"I watch what she goes through on a daily basis and I know she's tougher than everybody in here and a lot tougher than I am," he said standing at his locker. "So she's challenging me to be a lot better. That's for sure."

If you would like to learn more or donate to fight DiGeorge syndrome, you can go to the Dempster Family Foundation site here.'s Most Similar Pitcher: Matt Clement

Why We Might Like Him:
  • He's a stand-up guy (get it?) and owns when he pitches poorly and doesn't get too full of himself when he pitches well.
  • Since becoming a starter again in 2008 he is 28-15 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.257 WHIP, which is worlds better than Matt Clement.
  • He buzzed Ryan Braun last year.
Why We Might Hate Him:
  • There are those that haven't forgiven his bad outing in Game 1 of the 2008 NLDS.
  • He is paid a lot of money to be the 2008 version of himself and that is a pretty lofty goal for any pitcher to achieve, much less one that is 33 years old now.
  • Walks.  Those damn walks!  Throw a frickin' strike!  How hard is that?
What the Cubs Blogosphere Thinks of Him:
  • Hire Jim Essian - "For as much shit as I give Dempster around here for being a terrible comedian, he’s been a good-to-great pitcher for the Cubs, he has had some very cool interactions with the fans, and he’s apparently a very likable and approachable guy. He also busted his ass the last couple of offseasons to get in better shape, and the results have paid off. Just try not to think of Game One last year."
  • Cubs f/x - "One of the keys for Dempster appears to be a stat I call "Chase" - it's just swing rate on pitches out of the zone (zone=two foot wide plate, btw). He's 10th in the majors, with 30% of his pitches out of the zone yielding swings. As you'd expect, that rate is driven by the splitter and the slider, which both check in with Chase rates around 37%, and, combined, they account for 2 out of 5 pitches thrown by Dempster since 2007."
  • Waxpaperbeercup - "No one should be expecting Dempster to duplicate the kind of success he had [in 2008], but that has more to do with how high the bar would be set for that to happen than how good a pitcher he really is. Fortunately, Dempster’s breakout year happened to come on the eve of the best buyer’s market in recent baseball history, so for him to live up to the contract he signed he’ll merely have to be good, not great. That being said, if he takes a step back this year it will probably have a lot to do with the regression in his HR/9 rate. Dempster has shown the ability to keep the ball on the ground and in the park, but it’s very unlikely that he’ll manage a .61 rate like he did last year."
  • Goat Riders of the Apocalypse - For the statheads out there, Dempster's '09 season was worth 3.7 wins over a replacement level pitcher, a value of just over $16 million, or twice his 2009 salary.  How'd he do it? Demp ended up taking the meh-diocre route, allowing two or fewer runs in only 16 of his 31 starts, and allowing three runs in exactly three starts. That's 12 starts with 4 or more runs, which is kinda not really all that great, actually.


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