|The Red Sox are counting on Ryan Dempster for innings and levity.|
I don't always agree with Tony Massarotti's baseball opinions. During the 2011-2012 offseason, one thing I agreed with Mazz on was the club's need to add innings into the rotation. I'm sure if you are a regular listener to the show or were at the time you remember Massarotti imploring the club to go after Hiroki Kiroda or Edwin Jackson. Ultimately, with the club's payroll maxed out both hurlers were prohibitively expensive. All the club could do was dump Marco Scutaro in hopes of signing Roy Oswalt. Oswalt did not care enough about baseball enough to sign before the start of the season. Ultimately he signed with Texas and was awful. The only positive thing you could say about his 2012 was that he was better than Aaron Cook.
A year and a last place finish later the club finally addressed the club's glaring need for innings by signing Ryan Dempster. Four of the past five years Dempster has pitched over 200 innings. Additionally in four of the past five years he has had and ERA+ of 110 or higher. In essence, Dempster is being brought in to replace Tim Wakefield. As Wakefield's effectiveness faded the past couple seasons of his career, the club did not find anybody else to eat innings in the middle of the rotation. If over the next two years the Red Sox get 400 innings of above average pitching, Dempster will have earned every penny of his $25 million.
His performance dipped after his mid season trade to Texas raising one red flag. Dempster has spent his entire career in the NL prior to his deadline move, and his career interleague splits aren't encouraging either. As consistent as he has been, he is at an age where performance can fall off in a hurry. Derek Lowe was similarly consistent until his performance slipped to the point that the Braves ate a ton of money to offload him on the Indians, who in-turn cut Lowe last August. Sometimes baseball players are consistent, until they just aren't and can't do it anymore.
Dempster was also likely brought in to improve the makeup of the clubhouse and the pitching staff. Like the rest of Ben Cherrington's offseason signings, Dempster is regarded as a good clubhouse guy. His interviews and off field antics may remind some fans of Kevin Millar (coincedently the two were freinds while teammates with the Marlins). We can all agree that the club, and in particular the rotation, could use a bit of leadership.
By the end of last season the pain of watching Red Sox hurlers extended beyond their putrid results. They all looked like the most miserable human beings on Earth. I mean they looked like the kind of people you dreaded having to sit next to on a plane. By last August I resorted to politely imploring Jon Lester on Twitter to stop showing up the umpires on the mound and just throw the ball. If the affable Dempster can rub off on the rest of the rotation making these guys look less miserable out there, I am all for it. It might not make one iota of difference in terms of results, but it will make Red Sox hurlers easier to root for.
Follow me on Twitter @JChalifour Jason Chalifour 1/30/2013 11:12:00 PM Tweet