The Ryan Dempster saga is officially over.
Like the rest of the fine citizens of Braves Country, I was dragged through an exhausting and maddening series of events beginning with a falsely reported trade completion, and ending with Atlanta Braves General Manager Frank Wren declaring that the Braves were no longer interested in pursuing Dempster.
"We've moved on," Wren said. "Like I told you guys last night, it's highly unlikely that we make that [Dempster] deal." (Braves.com)
And all I have to say to that is "Thank goodness."
Dempster is having a tremendous year. I'm not going to refute that. A few weeks ago, I was even a major proponent of landing Dempster. His ERA and WHIP stand at a sparkling 2.25 and 1.04, respectively, and he's stranding an incredible 84% of baserunners.
However, his peripherals tell a different story. His K/9 has dropped from his 2011 rate of 8.50 to a 2012 level of 7.18, his BABIP against is .242, nearly 60 points lower than his career average, and his xFIP, a stat that indicates what the pitcher's ERA should be, is nearly 3.69 (Fangraphs).
Those are not exactly the numbers of a fearless ace ready to toe the October rubber against, say, Jered Weaver. But according to Jayson Stark, the Braves were "only looking for a 'top of the rotation' guy." If the Atlanta front office believed that Dempster could step into the starting rotation and lead the Braves to a World Series title, it was sorely mistaken.
I fear we've already begun to witness the laws of probability taking charge of Dempster's second half, giving up three home runs, 12 hits, and seven runs in his last 12 innings (Yahoo!).
Yet through all of this, I would be more than willing to have Dempster in the Atlanta rotation. My problem is the player the Braves were going to give up to get him. Randall Delgado, while inconsistent, has a very bright (and inexpensive) future, yet the Braves were willing to give up their formerly-third ranked prospect (ranked ahead of Craig Kimbrel and Brandon Beachy) for a rental (Baseball America).
I believe the word "egregious" fits nicely here.
With some polish, Delgado could easily rise to the role of number two starter. I would be okay with trading Delgado for an extended Zack Greinke (which by the way, is apparently a laughable offer in the Milwaukee front office), but Atlanta needs not give up on such a young, promising pitcher so soon.
I have a very strong intuition that Atlanta may not have nearly as much money to spend this offseason as Braves fans have been led to believe, so keeping Delgado is definitely in Atlanta's best interest. That is, unless the Braves can use him to catch one of the bigger fish swimming in the 2012 trade market (i.e. Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, James Shields) that will not simply leave once free agency rolls around.
Delgado is a very valuable piece, and with some patience, he could blossom into a rotation mainstay for the Braves. It'd be a crying shame to see leave for a two month rental.
However, I do believe that the Braves will make a move or two at the deadline. Perhaps the Atlanta front office will come around on Francisco Liriano, deal for a bat, or make a bigger splash than Dempster and get a true ace to lead the Braves to the promised land. I'm very excited for this upcoming week. The trade deadline is one of my favorite times of year, and I can't wait to see what transpires.
Braves fans have many reasons for optimism. Not getting Ryan Dempster just adds to the list.