Dempster, as in “dumpster”

JMB · October 2, 2005 at 3:47 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

A week ago, Dave speculated on the myriad of quality relievers who’ll be on the market this winter, and specifically how that relates to Eddie Guardado’s team/player option situation. The prevailing wisdom was that the M’s should decline their $6.5M option, and if Eddie picks up his (cheaper) option, so be it. If not, there’s always the FA market.

That FA market got an early boost today when Ryan Dempster — who has essentially never pitched well in his life before this season — signed a three-year, $15.5M deal with the Chicago Cubs. A former starter, Dempster has served as the Cubbies’ closer for most of the year and has done well, coverting 33 of 35 chances including 19 straight at one point.

I applaud the Cubs for taking a guy who never cut it as a starter — he was released by the Reds just two years ago — and making him a closer. More clubs should take marginal starters and make them into relievers, as there’s generally pretty good success with this sort of thing, and it can be a cheap way to fill out your bullpen. But after you’ve made a smart move like this, turning freely available talent into something useful, you don’t turn around and give the guy $15.5M.

When the M’s are forced to pay some closer $21M over four years this winter, they’ll have the Cubs to blame. OK, so they’ll really have themselves to blame. But it’s always nice to blame the Cubs for something.


62 Responses to “Dempster, as in “dumpster””

  1. Jerry on October 3rd, 2005 12:18 pm

    I heard a totally different story.

    In a few rumor articles around the trade deadline I heard that there was strong interest about Guardado from several teams, and that the M’s had very high demands in return.

    I guess that it bears watching. However, I think that Guardado will get a lot better offers than he would get from exercising his options. He would get two years from some team easily. The M’s could always just let him go, offer him arbitration, and get some draft picks in the deal.

  2. Adam B. on October 3rd, 2005 12:29 pm

    The M’s have never been a team willing to take risks.

    “Proven veteran closer” are the operative words and the fact that Eddie has installed himself as a “clubhouse leader” could very well translate into the M’s picking up a $6.5M injury risk pushing 40.

    Just like everyone else here I’d much rather see the M’s drop him and use a minimum wage option like Putz or Soriano; but if past experiance means anything, it ain’t gonna happen.

    At the very least the FA market is wide open on closers should the M’s go crazy and actually have to replace Eddie.
    …I just wish the same could be said of the starting pitchers.

  3. Evan on October 3rd, 2005 2:41 pm

    Since I would argue that Eddie was not one of our three best relievers this season, he’s definitely not worth $6 million (even if someone else pays him that much).

  4. eponymous coward on October 3rd, 2005 2:47 pm

    yteimlad, you’re missing the point, though you sort of acknowledge it by noting the unpredictablity of relievers.

    Let’s take Brian Fuentes, for example. Yeah, he’s had a good year in 2005. In 2004, he was 67th in Expected Wins Added (1.417),. Mariano Rivera was 4th (7.447).

    Hey, look- that’s a difference of 6 expected wins! Maybe there’s something to this “consistency” thing when it comes to relievers (and you will find VERY few closers who have a record of it that’s in Rivera’s ballpark).

    Also, go look at Todd Jones’ career stats and tell me which guy’s gonna show up next year, based on his 5 year ERAs:


    Hint: one of these things is REALLY not like the others.

    I think it’s pretty amusing to compare that to Rivera’s record. Rivera IS one of the more stable parts of the Yankee roster- he has been for his career, which is why he’s probably going to go to the HOF (that, and being in a jillion World series innings).

    Yeah, if you can find the Chad Corderos, Brad Lidge and F-Rods in your minor league system, OF COURSE it’s to your advantage to use someone like that as your closer than pay 10.5 million to Rivera. But that would be true at any position- we’re better off paying Jose Lopez 350K next year than Boone 9 million this year, right? But that doesn’t last forever, because your guy IS going to want a payday someday, and you’re not guaranteed to come up with someone who can conistently provide excellence for your bullpen from your minor league system. (Anaheim’s done an excellent job of it with coming up with Donnelly, Shields and F-Rod in short order, which allowed them to ditch their “proven closer” Percival without missing a beat- but I’d argue they are fairly unique. Even Billy Beane’s had to spend more than $3 million for closers at times.)

    That being said, I think your point’s quite valid for the Urbinas, Percivals, Guardados and Mesas of the world- I don’t think we’d lose a hell of a lot putting Mateo in at closer if we traded Guardado, for instance. The list of elite closers is small, and unless they are in the Rivera class (bank on 5-9 wins above replacement every year), they are pretty interchangeable, as Billy Beane demonstrates.

  5. Steve Thornton on October 3rd, 2005 2:48 pm

    I’m with yteimlad. Spend the money where it matters most — hitters who play every day, pitchers who pitch 200 innings. Adequate relievers are a dime a dozen, and the best closer in the world (which Eddie is not) can’t close games we’re not already winning.

    Year Off Def
    2005 699 751
    2004 698 823
    2003 795 637
    2002 814 699
    2001 927 627

    We got back less than half of the two hundred runs allowed we gave up last year over our last good year, 2003, and made no progress at all in gaining back the hundred fewer we scored. We don’t need to win 116 games again to be contenders, but we do have to play as well as 2003. Bavasi needs to be thinking about where to get a hundred runs, and how to stop another 150. And everyone is a year older next year. This team’s problems are FAR from being solved; we’re not a starter or a slugger away. We’re probably not a starter AND a slugger away. Pissing around with a bunch of overpriced relief talent when our needs are that great is a waste of time.

    Best of luck in the future, Eddie.

    Now, let’s get a good starting pitcher to go with a full year of Felix H., and one more decent hitter, and hope that Beltre and Reed can kick it up next year. Actually, just avoiding a Valdez/Olivo hole in the order might qualify as “getting a decent hitter”.

  6. Evan on October 3rd, 2005 2:52 pm

    Oh, and one more thing…

    Dave speculated on the myriad of quality relievers

    As a noun, isn’t a myriad a group of exactly ten thousand? You could have said there is a plethora of quality relievers. You could have used the adjective form and said that quality relievers are myriad.

    But a myriad of quality relievers would be 10,000 quality relievers.

  7. Steve Thornton on October 3rd, 2005 5:03 pm

    No, “myriad” doesn’t mean exactly ten thousand. It used to, in the Greek, but that was a long time ago. Now considered archaic. It just means “countless, lots, a buttload”.

  8. Brian Rust on October 3rd, 2005 5:15 pm

    FWIW, Rivera really IS an exception.

    Using yteimlad’s reference to Relievers Expected Wins Above Rplacement Level, Rivera has been in the top five in 7 of the last 10 years (plus 8th, 11th, and 37th). He’s followed by Hoffman 4x, Benitez-Foulke-Gagne 3x each, five others 2x each. That’s tremendous consistency at the very top. I’d be surprised if ANY other player makes the top five in a similar statistical category 7 out of 10 years.

    Mo is money.

  9. The Real Neal on October 3rd, 2005 7:00 pm


    Didn’t read all the comments- but the initial post :’has essentially never pitched well in his life before this season ‘ is a little bit questionable. This may be news to some of you, but a little bit past the half point of the season MLB takes a short break, highlighted by a game called the ‘All-Star Game’. You should check it out some time.

  10. The Real Neal on October 3rd, 2005 7:15 pm

    OK I read through all the posts- Jose Mesa is the poster child for bad starter being ‘good closer’.

    But getting back to the contention that you just bring up young players and get 500k retreds to be your closer and it works out great, being a Cubs fan, that’s OK if your goal is to win 80 games. If your goal is to win the World Series, you need a closer from day 1 and preferrably set roles in the bullpen as well. If you don’t think that’s the case, I have a list for you:

    St. Louis
    White Sox
    Red Sox

    The #1 reason the Red Sox almost didn’t make the playoffs- crap bullpen. The White Sox were hot right from the get-go, and once they gave up on frisbee boy, had a set bullpen- until Hermanson got hurt and then what happened? The Braves are the only playoff team that had to pull a closer out of their butts, but that was only because they’re #1 guy stunk.

  11. eponymous coward on October 3rd, 2005 8:16 pm

    Uh, let’s see..

    Brad Lidge- is he highly paid? No, he’s a kid from the Astros farm system.
    The Angels? F-Rod, Shield and Donnelly are ALL fairly cheap. They DITCHED their “proven closer”, remember?
    Rivera’s an original product of the Yankees farm system. Trevor Hoffman is similar for the Padres.
    Hermanson? Can you say “Failed starter”?

    Yeah, the Cardinals have the traditional ‘pen with a “proven veteran” they imported (Isringhausen)…but it’s not the only way you have to go.

  12. The Real Neal on October 6th, 2005 8:23 am

    All bullpen pitchers are failed starters!

    What I am saying is that if you just say ‘here’s 7 good arms, make a bullpen’ it’s not going to work, at least not from the get-go. Brad Lidge- came into a bullpen with established rolls then emerged as the closer when they traded thier two other closers. F-Rod came into the bullpen with an established roll, then emerged as the closer when they let thier closer go. Mariano Rivera came into the bullpen with an established roll, then emerged as the closer when they let Wettland go. Trevor Hoffman came to San Diego to set up,then moved into the closing roll. Get it?