Boston Red Sox Signing of Pitcher Ryan Dempster Looking Better by the Day

Andrew Martin@@historianandrewCorrespondent IIIDecember 20, 2012

Dempster's signing could be a key to the offseason for the Red Sox.
Dempster's signing could be a key to the offseason for the Red Sox.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Although the ink has barely dried on Ryan Dempster’s two-year $26.5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, the deal is starting to look better by the day.

Boston entered this offseason desperately needing starting pitching. To date their only addition in this department has been Dempster, but this is increasingly looking like a better and better move.

The Red Sox officially introduced Dempster at a press conference yesterday, where the right-hander made a great first impression.

Some, like WEEI’s Alex Speier, have questioned the 35-year-old Dempster’s durability. Instead of avoiding the issue, Dempster addressed it head-on during his presser.

The Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman wrote about how he came away impressed at what Dempster had to say. He quoted the pitcher talking about his role as an innings eater:

That's your responsibility as a starting pitcher in the big leagues. The norm used to be 300 innings. Somehow we worked it down to 200, even 180.

Dempster said a lot of things yesterday that should hearten Red Sox fans. The Boston Globe’s Gary Dzen wrote that the pitcher’s main goals are throwing over 200 innings every season and helping the Red Sox get back to the World Series.

Dzen let Dempster’s simple approach to baseball speak for itself:

The money and things like that in baseball are great, but I came here because I believe this team has a chance of winning as much as anybody else. I’ve always believed that should be your mentality going into any season.

Every team’s going to win 50 games. Every team’s going to lose 50 games. It’s what you do with the other 62 that matter.

Dempster has been one of the most durable and consistent starting pitchers in baseball in recent seasons. According to Speier, Dempster is one of just 15 MLB pitchers with 200 or more innings pitched in at least four of the past five years.

Since 2008, Dempster has gone a combined 65-49 with 3.76 ERA. He has averaged 199 innings and 182 strikeouts during those five seasons. Those may not be the numbers of an ace, but they represent the kind of consistent production Boston sorely lacked in their rotation last season.

The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber interviewed former Red Sox player Kevin Millar about the newest Red Sox pitcher. In typical fashion, the jovial Millar had plenty to say about his former teammate’s growth as a pitcher.

I think as you mature you just learn how to pitch. One thing that he gives credit to is that he spent a lot of time with Greg Maddux. I think Greg Maddux has been a huge, huge influence on his pitching ability now these last five years. He's really learned how to pitch, learned how to use his fastball now that it's not 95 anymore. He's really learned how to take some off, put some on, and has command of all of his pitches now.

Dempster’s contract looks even better in light of news that 29-year-old right-handed Edwin Jackson signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Chicago Cubs, as first reported in a tweet by CSNChicago.com’s Patrick Mooney earlier today.

#Cubs have signed Edwin Jackson (four years, $52 million) and Carlos Villanueva, pending physicals.

— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) December 20, 2012

Dempster’s numbers indicate he is a better pitcher than Jackson. In addition to compiling superior stats in most categories, he has also averaged an ERA+ of 118 over the past five seasons, compared to the younger pitcher’s mark of 105.

It’s reasonable to speculate that Boston got a more productive pitcher for approximately half the price. That in itself is a reason to feel good about the deal.

Dempster has a proven track record and is still hungry. The signs that the Red Sox made an excellent move in adding him to their starting rotation have only increased in recent days, giving fans something to look forward to in the new year.

Statistics via BaseballReference

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