Cubs' Dempster put himself in a tough spot

  • It could be an interesting weekend at Wrigley Field for Cubs starter Ryan Dempster.

    It could be an interesting weekend at Wrigley Field for Cubs starter Ryan Dempster. Associated Press

Updated 7/26/2012 8:45 PM

Cubs questions to ponder while wondering what my own 10-and-5 rights are worth:

•Will Ryan Dempster become the first guy booed for wanting to be a Cub?


Everybody wants to play for the Cubs. You know, the whole Wrigley Field scene, day baseball, great fans, chance to break the championship drought.

Cubs fans love guys like this, except when they don't.

Ryan Dempster is in a tough spot, all his own making, which doesn't make him wrong on principle.

Dempster apparently exercised his rights as a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the major leagues and five with the same club) to veto a trade to the Atlanta Braves.

That right was won in collective bargaining 40 years ago and was first used by beloved Cub Ron Santo, who nixed a trade to the California Angels in the fall of 1973 before accepting a trade to the White Sox.

Santo cited family and business reasons, not totally unlike what Dempster might be thinking now.

But Dempster has upset a great many Cubs fans, if social media are any barometers, because he has deprived the Cubs of a Triple-A pitching prospect who will lead the team to the promised land.

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As I've mentioned in several forums, no one knows all the facts yet because no one (most notably Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer) has said what those facts are.

So it's not known for sure whether Dempster told Epstein unequivocally that, sure, he'd accept a trade to the Dodgers or the Braves or the Nippon Ham Fighters before backing out of the Atlanta deal.

This will sort itself out one way or another by next week's July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline. I suspect Dempster will be gone by then, but it will be interesting to see how he's received by the Wrigley Field faithful if he pitches again at home.

Cubs fans have had an interesting relationship with some of their heroes and anti-heroes over the years.

When Greg Maddux signed with the Braves in the fall of 1992 and came back to pitch at Wrigley to start the 1993 season, he was booed vociferously, even thought the fault for his departure lay with GM Larry Himes and Tribune Co. caretaker Stanton Cook.


Maddux then was given a hero's welcome in 2004, when former GM Jim Hendry brought him "home."

The Cubs tried for many days to get Fred McGriff to waive his no-trade with Tampa Bay in 2001. McGriff initially balked, miffed that the then-Devil Rays didn't inform him of the trade.

But when McGriff finally consented to the trade and made his Cubs debut on a Sunday night at Wrigley Field, he was cheered loudly even though his delaying may have cost the Cubs some games.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was greeted rather indifferently upon his return to Wrigley this year, despite being the best third baseman since Santo.

With Dempster, I suspect he'll be fine in the long run, but things could get a little rough for him around the old ballpark in the next few days. He's scheduled to pitch again Wednesday, one day after the nonwaiver trading deadline.

It's all too bad because Dempster more than anyone, including Kerry Wood, had become the face of the Cubs franchise over the past decade.

•Is it time to bring Josh Vitters up?

Don't look now, but the Cubs are getting absolutely nothing offensively out of third base.

Luis Valbuena, who plays well enough on defense, finished the just-concluded road trip 0-for-15 and is hitting .204 for the season.

That's not a huge change from what the injured Ian Stewart provided with the bat earlier this season before undergoing surgery on his left wrist.

Vitters, the Cubs' top draft choice in 2007, is having a breakout season at Class AAA Iowa. He entered Thursday with a hitting line of .299/.349/.504, with 15 home runs, 62 RBI and 20 errors.

The 22-year-old Vitters is just shy of having the full season of Triple-A at-bats Epstein and Hoyer said they wanted from first baseman Anthony Rizzo before they brought him up in late June.

Vitters still may need work at third base, but at this point, his bat might be worth a look-see.

•Was there a big move Thursday?

Well, the Cubs did announce that reliever Jairo Asencio was outrighted to Iowa. They designated him for assignment last week when they obtained pitcher Justin Germano from the Boston Red Sox.

So, no, there was no big move, but there are a few days left until the trading deadline.


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