God’s Wrath(?) Watch: Dempster, Sveum, and Epstein Discuss Dempster’s Injury, and a Source Says It’s Legit

Yesterday’s Ryan Dempster disabled list move really caught folks by surprise, but the Chicago Cubs, who undoubtedly knew there would be a wave of panic washing over the fan base (and, perhaps, prospective trade partners), were prepared with a full explanation.

“We want to nip this in the bud and make sure it doesn’t turn into a strain or anything like that,” Cubs President Theo Epstein told reporters soon after the move was announced. “It’s unfortunate because he was throwing as well as anyone in the game. But he knows his body really well.”

Epstein was essentially saying that the injury isn’t a big deal – it isn’t even “a strain” – all while reminding everyone that Dempster has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. If that wasn’t a meticulously choreographed dance, I don’t know what is.

Dale Sveum sounded a little more somber, but you can understand why he might be a little more upset about losing Dempster for a couple starts than Epstein.

“Unfortunately our best pitcher, if not the best pitcher in baseball right now, comes up a little lame with his lat,” Sveum said. “There’s no timetable. We’re going to make sure that thing is back and ready to go 100 percent by the time he gets back.”

As for Dempster, himself, he was in relatively good spirits about an injury he says he suffered all the way back on June 5 (after which he threw some 15 straight scoreless innings).

“I’m a pretty good judge of my body, so when it tells me I’m ready to go, I’ll go again,” Dempster said before joking that he was just trying to make Orel Hershiser sweat (Hershiser holds the record for the longest scoreless inning streak at 59). Dempster also joked that, if he’s on the trade block, he should have just kept pitching through the injury, and joked that he was going to take the Josh Beckett approach to healing (i.e., playing golf while on the DL). Dempster is obviously frequently jovial, but, even for him, that would be a lot of joking if he had any serious concerns about his lat.

And, so, the conspiracy theory angle – i.e., that the Cubs have a deal largely in place with a team, and they are using the disabled list as stalling tactic (either to protect Dempster, to scout players, or to some other end) – will continue to persist. Dave Kaplan said it pretty explicitly yesterday: “Lat tightness is another term for don’t you dare get hurt while we finalize a trade and your stock is sky high.”

Tangentially addressing that theory, Epstein spoke generally about the interplay between trade talks and injured players. In short, teams tend not to trade guys when they’re on the disabled list.

“Generally, when players have these minor injuries, it’s typical to wait until they come back and re-establish their health before engaging any serious trade talk,” Epstein said.

For what it’s worth, I checked with a source who told me that my thoughts on the subject yesterday were pretty much the gist: Dempster really does have mild lat tightness, and the Cubs want to make sure he doesn’t get hurt in the next couple weeks before the trade market has a chance to really develop as much as it might. The Cubs aren’t concerned that teams will be scared off by this injury, because the Cubs are confident that interested teams know the Cubs are just being overly cautious. After all, Dempster threw how many scoreless innings in a row while pitching through this injury?

Like most things, this isn’t black and white: Dempster isn’t being placed on the DL solely to protect his trade value, and he isn’t being placed on the DL solely because he’s super-badly injured. There are a number of considerations at play, and they logically led to a precautionary DL stint.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

75 responses to “God’s Wrath(?) Watch: Dempster, Sveum, and Epstein Discuss Dempster’s Injury, and a Source Says It’s Legit”

  1. ETS

    Is no one going to mention Chris Reed is also on the DL (a Dodger’s pitching prospect)?

    1. Drew7

      Mentioned multiple times yesterday

  2. Cubs Dude

    I really think the principle of the trade has been agreed to already. It’s being used to protect him for some reason, or he requested the off time to waive his NTC.

  3. Deer

    Maybe they had no choice because he wouldn’t pass a physical with this injury?

  4. ottoCub

    I’m still suspicious. Dempster reportedly had bad blisters most of last year (bad enough that he sometimes couldn’t throw all his pitches, and he subsequently got pounded in those games) but he never went on the DL. And now he goes on the DL with minor Lat stiffness.

    Hmm… I know that a lat injury could be much more serious long-term than blisters, and it is always good to be cautious with muscular stiffness. And the Cubs aren’t really going to win many more games with Dempster on the team, so why not rest sore lats? But yeah, it is a curious move.

  5. Cubs Dude

    Is Ryan Dempster going to pitch for the 2012 Chicago Cubs again? Or is he moving his family to pitch for the 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers? – Sincerely, Shelby Menge

  6. Patrick G

    Mlbtraderumors.com reports teams are inquiring about Barney, what kind of player(s) could he bring in return?

    1. ETS

      Yeah, the sox announcers last night mentioned something suggesting that barney was on the trade block. I don’t see why he couldn’t be, but it was an odd thing to hear from Hawk and Stone.

      1. ETS

        oh and more to your question – my guess is that all depends on whether theo can sell him a legitimate option as a short stop.

        Maybe Detroit would be interested and they could figured out between barney and peralta who gets short and who gets second (I would think peralta is the worse defender but I admittedly can’t say that with confidence).

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Then watch Peralta play.  Unless the comparison is Derek Jeter, then he’s the worse shortstop!

          1. ETS

            Thanks for the reply although I’m surprised you’re so high on Jeter. Sabremetrically he has not been the greatest defender.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              heh, I’m no more “high” on Jeter than I am thinking that Stalin should be a poster child for Amnesty International because Hitler was worse than Joe!

              (And, in truth, Peralta might be better than Jeter: but Peralta is pretty awful.)

    2. WGNstatic

      The only way I see Barney being traded is as part of a package, probably with Garza or Dempster.

      He is an above average, cheap, second baseman. While he isn’t going to lead the Cubs to the promised land on his own, it wouldn’t be shocking if he were the 2B on the next Cub playoff team. That said, I just can’t see him bringing much in return on his own or as the headliner in any package.

      However, if a team is looking for both a starting pitcher and an upgrade in the middle infield, Barney could be a nice pot sweetener to up the quality of the prospects coming back to the Cubs.

    3. Luke

      It would depend on how teams view Barney.  I still see him as a very good career utility / bench guy, but his numbers this season say he’s a good major league starting second baseman.

      I suppose the Mark DeRosa trade might not be a bad basis for a comparison.  I’d be a little surprised if the Cubs dealt him, though.  He’s not that young, but he’s a good, cost controlled infielder who can play second or short.  If the Cubs find a better second baseman, he would still have plenty of value coming off the bench.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Those could be good reasons to “sell high,” too.

        1. hansman1982

          That is why GM’s get paid so much. Is this Barney’s peak or is he going to gradually build his OPS to top 7 status and be one of the best 2B in the game (considering his above-average defense)?

    4. CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

      I continue to go on record that Barney is someone you want on your team. He is a winner, plays the game the right way, and is the smartest player on the field.Not to mention he is a solid defender and is hitting around .275. Just because he is not 6’4″, 225, and mashing 25 homeruns, everyone feels compelled to replace him with any 2B “prospect” in our system. It would be a mistake to trade Darwin Barney (unless of course we are getting Carlos Gonzales, Troy Tulowitzki, which ain’t gonna happen).

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        I disagree with your concept of “plays the game the right way.”  Yes, his numbers are OK now: but in the long run I think that his OBP and (particularly) his slugging will be less than average for a 2nd baseman.  Do those average or better, and you are playing the game “the right way;” don’t and you are not.

        1. Cooper R

          I think he meant “plays the game the right way” in terms of hustle, leadership and defense. I could be mistaken though.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            Except for fielding, the other two things are irrelevant and thus no more germane to playing baseball properly than a player’s hairstyle.  Indeed, less so: hairstyles are real whereas “hustle” and (especially) “leadership” are largely media fabrications.  (Media depictions of who “leads” a team are based entirely on who gives the best quotes after a game…)

            Playing the game “right” if you are a position player is mostly about getting on base and hitting for some power.  Fielding is nice, too, although lots of poor fielders have more than made up for that with their bats.

            1. CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

              Really? Hustle is a fabrication? I’m pretty sure Theo and Dale both talked ad nauseum in their introductory press conferences about the new “Cubs Way”, and that hustle and accountability were two of the main points. I won’t even mention the Soriano discussion a few days ago(oh, wait, I guess I just did).
              I think “playing the right way” also is hitting to the right side of the field to move a runner from second to third with nobody out. That usually means a groundout. It also means just putting the ball in play with a runner on third with less than two outs. Both of these will have a negative effect on one’s OBP and slugging. If he is getting the job done “now”, why don’t you think he will continue to get the job done?

              1. Kyle

                Hustle is real.

                However, when a fan complains about hustle, 99% of the time they mean “I just don’t like that player and I want to be able to justify my dislike.”

                1. GoldFinch

                  Come on Kyle. When fans(we are talking in terms of thousands) complain about hustle, it has nothing to do with disliking the player personally! It has to do with disliking the way they play the game. HUGE difference.

                  1. DocPeterWimsey

                    But, again, it’s not real.  It is something that you choose to see because you dislike the player.  You can see what a player does: but the assumptions you make about why he is doing what he does are ones you choose yourself.

              2. DocPeterWimsey

                Earl Weaver: Making outs is the wrong way to play.  Gene Mauch: Making outs is good team baseball.  Earl Weaver: hey, Gene, did you enjoy watching my teams on TV all of those Octobers?

                Good offenses do not waste outs to advance people or even to get sacrifice flies.  (They often do get a lot of SF simply from high OBP and a tendency to drive the ball: but that’s an outcome, not a goal.)  The good offenses get guys on base and they slug.  Small ball is, to sound like a 5th grader, loser ball.

          2. CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

            You are correct Sir!

  7. Stinky Pete

    I thought there were rules against trading players on the DL. Or is that simply in my madeup fantasy dreamworld?

    1. baldtaxguy

      As an example, Peavy was traded to ChiSox while on SD DL

  8. WGNstatic

    Something else to consider with the DL stint for Dempster is that any trading partner would have known about the injury anyway, so for those teams this is probably not much of a surprise.

    The DL is in some ways a bigger deal to the public because for us it is often the only time we learn about an injury.

    1. Jack Weiland

      Good point.

  9. Assman22

    Soler part dos?  Another promising Cuban OF defects Cuba…..13 days……

    “Cuban outfielder Yasel Puig has defected from Cuba and is in the process of establishing residency in Mexico.  Puig, 21, made a name for himself on Cuba’s Junior National team and is highly coveted in international circles. His value and status is yet to be determined. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez suggests Puig could receive a contract similar to Jorge Soler’s nine-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs. A showcase for major league scouts is scheduled for later this week”.  - Rotoworld

    1. Assman22

      Where’s my love Brett?  HotStoveCubbies get some but not me?  haha :)

  10. Stinky Pete

    Better hurry…

    1. Assman22

      “Agent Jaime Torres says he hopes MLB will declare the 21-year-old a free agent once his residency has been established.

      “We should all be on the same page by July 2nd in order to have the clubs evaluate him and sign a contract before the new rule kicks in,” Torres told Sanchez.

      Torres has tentatively scheduled a showcase for scouts in Mexico City later this week. Puig, a 6’3″ 210 pound outfielder, has two seasons of experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He’s more polished than Jorge Soler but less seasoned than Yoenis Cespedes, according to Sanchez. If MLB declares Puig a free agent in the coming days, he’ll be able to sign before July 2 and maximize his earnings.”  - MLBTR

      1. Cubbie Blues

        Has he already established residency in Mexico?

  11. lou brock lives

    Remember a few weeks back when Carlos Marmol was put on the DL with a supposed hamstring injury. Do any of you really think he was injured ? How about Lendy Castillo – the rule V draft pickup from the Phillies ? Anybody believe that story ?
    This Cub FO is becoming very questionable with injury info they have been feeding to the press, fans, & ML officials in New York. Believe me when I suggest to you that although Dempster may have some MINOR soreness in the LAT area, if the Cubs were in the race to win the pennant this year there is no way he would have been put on the DL. My source on this does not go any higher than you can go on the Cubs medical staff – so believe me when I tell you that this source also does not like the games the Cubs are playing with medical info on players who are NOT really injured.

    1. cubmig

      Wow……..yours’ is quite some statement. Can you say—or give–any more detail of what “My source…” bases his game playing comment?

  12. Hawkeye


    “If that wasn’t a meticulously choreographed dance, I don’t know what is.”

    As a former lawyer, how much do you appreciate getting to cover a President of Baseball Operations and GM that are obviously well edcuated, highly analytical, and so meticulous with their every move/word?

  13. lou brock lives

    One other thing on Soriano’s lack of hustle out of the batter’s box. Grab some tape of Pete Rose playing the game in his late 30′s & even into his 40′s. Pete was usually one of the highest paid players on his teams & whenever you saw him play the EFFORT was always the same – hell he SPRINTED to first base when he received an intentional walk !!!

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      I always liked how Rose signaled his bookie as he ran to first.

      1. @cubsfantroy

        comment of the day lol

  14. Assman22

    If signed by the Cubs, Puig would be #3 or #4 prospect, ahead of Soler.

    1. Andrew

      is that your guess or is that a quote from a source or something?

      1. Assman22

        Right now, Soler is considered our #3 or #4 prospect and given Puig is supposedly more “polished” than Soler, it makes sense to rank him one spot ahead of Soler for the time being.

        1. Luke

          Depends on their relative ceilings as well.  We have a fair idea of Soler’s ceiling, but I know very little about Puig.

          1. Assman22

            Puig is supposed to be the best Cuban prospect in the last 12 months and better than Soler. We’ll see what happens…

            1. Andrew

              All the info coming out right now is from his agent. Ill save the best prospect talk until we find some more neutral scouts judge his abilities.

          2. calicubsfan007

            Luke: A few months ago, didn’t we talk about how we had no idea what Soler’s ceiling was? I am sure we will get more info on Puig as time goes by.

          3. The Dude Abides

            What if anything can you tell me about Keyser Söze?

            1. calicubsfan007

              The Dude Abides: That’s the Cuban I want on the Cubs. (=

            2. Cooper R

              All we need is another player with a limp

              1. calicubsfan007

                Cooper: We already have Soriano!

        2. Andrew

          More polished doesnt mean better prospect, that just means that he’s closer to reaching his potential ceiling right now. Usually the older player is going to be more polished. Marlon Byrd is more polished than Bryce Harper but which would you rather have.

  15. mudge

    Puig is more polished but Soler is more buffed.

  16. loyal100more

    this reminds me of rick sutcliff…for joe carter. maybe this time we get “joe carter” and a contender gets a cy young award winner in half a season (sutcliff went 16-1 after joining the cubs) and a trip deep into the playoffs. perfect example of sacraficing the future to make a championship run.

  17. loyal100more

    or how bout rafeal palemero for mitch williams in 89…would be nice if we can get a player of this magnatude to assist another team in a playoff hunt

  18. Andrewmoore4isu

    Seriously though, wtf is lat tightness? When my lat is tight I stretch it
    Out and get it loose? Or in dempsters case he has someone stretch it for him?

    1. Cubs Dude

      Sounds like a made up injury to me.

    2. calicubsfan007

      Andrew: From what I understand about the lat, lat tightness is when the person’s range of motion is screwed up. They cant really reach above without pain and tightness. And you are right about the streching, but one needs to get that area massaged in order to loosen that up.

  19. Steve

    I was thinking about this the other day. Let’s say the roles were different with the Cubs in contention and in need of a starter.
    Who would you, as a GM,give up for Dempster?? How about Garza??

    1. calicubsfan007

      Steve: Personally, I would give up Jackson. His value seems to decrease as time goes by. The other guys are showing major promise in their respective levels, I would get rid of Jackson. While of course selling him up to the other teams by saying how great he will be, how he is a game changer, etc. (=

    2. Andrew

      Rizzo and Baez would be the only untouchables if I were in the position of a contender. For Garza, I think I would be willing to give McNutt, Jackson, and a relief prospect and i think that is a somewhat fair deal. For Dempster, I think McNutt straight up would get him.

    3. Drew7

      McNutt – I think he’ll end up being an above average back of the bullpen guy. Him and Gioskar Amaya(?) for Dempster.

      Garza: I’d be comfortable giving up Jackson, and it would be a crapshoot from there for me.

    4. loyal100more

      how about Lahair?

      1. ETS

        I think if you assumed we were in contention you’d have to assume that lahair was a major reason why.

  20. Mick

    While we’re throwing out conspiracy theories, here’s mine…

    The Cubs put Dempster on the DL to prevent an injury but also to raise the percieved value of Matt Garza. Having Dempster on the DL reduces the SP supply thus raising Garza’s value because he’s currently attainable. This also gives our FO time to work out a Garza deal and then time to work out the deal for Dempster.

    1. Cooper R

      Not sure if a two week wait will raise any value on Garza, because in two weeks Dempster will be back and assuming he is healthy he’ll be right back at the top of a few teams wishlist.

  21. Steve

    But….what if…..EEEEEEEK, he comes back and BLOWS???

    Holy batshit I thought Dempster had made his last start for us.

    Danger Robin!!!

    1. calicubsfan007

      Steve: Nice. I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there. A little Larry the Cable Guy line there. Git er done!