In my last update, I glazed over today’s newest Ranger, Ryan Dempster, because I just didn’t see it coming at all. Today, I eat some of my words. (Though shortly after my last post, I saw the Rangers trade for Geovany Soto and I got a gut feeling they were acquiring him to tempt Dempster to open his trade market a bit.)
As the 3pm CST trade deadline rolled around, I was glued to the wire. Who’s going where?… What’s that?… Dempster was seen leaving the Cubs clubhouse?… He’s going somewhere… The Yankees are reportedly getting Dempster? Crap!… There are only 2 minutes left!… What’s going to happen?!?… The Rangers have reportedly sent two class-A guys to Chicago for Dempster… YES!!! We got what we needed!
And needed badly. That good news came on the coattails of the news that Neftali Feliz would be out for the rest of the season. He’s going under the knife for the dreaded Tommy John surgery. That’s two starters lost for the year to a torn ulnar collateral ligament (lost for most of 2013 as well). And he most likely will never make it into the starting rotation once again – flat out depressing. I remember buying seats by the bullpen when he was first called up just so I could watch him warm up. That dude could make a catcher’s mitt pop. The buzz in the air around the Rangers bullpen when he was getting loose was better than the game itself. It was awesome. Now, I just wish him the best and a strong recovery.
The Rangers sent over Christian Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks, both Class A guys. I’ll give you a little more on them later.
I’m glad the Rangers made a move and I like Dempster, though he isn’t what will get us over the hump. He will definitely help out our rotation, but he is less likely to be the guy that pushes us to a World Series title. He’s not Cliff Lee, circa 2010. But here is what he is…
He a 35 year old veteran who’s been pitching well. He was the Cubs ace, their go to guy. But he was only 5-5 this year while posting a 2.25 ERA. That’s a pretty darn good ERA, but your ace is suppose to nail down wins. The Cubs just haven’t given him consistent offense to back him up.
He’s got 5 pitches that he can throw consistently. A 4-seam fastball, a 2-seam fastball – both in the low 90s – a cutter in the high 80s, a slider, and a splitter. The cutter will be called upon here to get the ground ball outs that are required to have success when pitching at The Temple. But really all his pitches work well in our park…he just has to keep them down, obviously.
Dempster is all about control and wits. He is a crafty guy who doesn’t overpower hitters, but he gets ahead in the count, works the corners, and trusts his defense behind him to stop the ball.
Though his ERA is at 2.25, that is definitely going to rise pitching in the Rangers’ hitter-friendly park. Against AL teams in interleague play this season, he went 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA against the White Sox (Loss – 6.0 IP, 4 ER), Twins (Win – 8.0 IP, 0 ER), Red Sox (Win – 7.0 IP, 0 ER). That’s not too shabby. His most impressive game came against the Twins on June 10th when the Cubs visited Target Field and Dempster tossed 8 strong inning, giving up no runs on 4 hits, striking out 6 and walking only 1 batter. What was most impressive was his ability to get the ground ball out, 16 in total. Now he just has to do that here!
I won’t nitpick too much on the guy just yet… I’ll give him a chance to settle in and meet with Nolan, Wash, and Mike Maddux and the rest of the pitching staff to figure out how he’s going to have success here. I’m glad we made something happen and we didn’t have to give up much.
But what did we give up? 3B Christian Villanueva, 21 years old out of Mexico. It’s hard to say much about him, but he really doesn’t look like he has a whole lot of professional potential and you will probably never hear his name again. The other man in the mix is Kyle Hendricks, a 22-year old RHP with some stuff. I don’t really know if you will ever hear his name again, but being that he’s a 22-year old pitcher in single-A, he will probably get lost in the farm system and jump from team to team, hoping to catch a break somewhere.
As far as the Geovany Soto deal… Soto is a former All-Star catcher. He’s a career .252 hitter, with 77 home runs and 264 RBIs – not impressive stats. His best year came in 2008. I believe the Rangers made the deal for Soto to A) spark the offense a little and finally end the Torrealba experiment, and B) to open the door for Dempster. Dempster had already turned down a trade to the Braves and been adamant about going nowhere but the Dodgers. Then today, he suddenly expanded his options to the Yankees and the Rangers. I understand the Yankees, but why here? Soto. And a good chance at a ring.
So if he wants that ring, he’s going to have to earn it. We need the help. Let’s right the ship and take the West once again Rangers!