Ryan Dempster was Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade's biggest supporter last season, openly lobbying for Quade to get the interim tag removed from his title. But perhaps he's second-guessing himself now.
The WGN cameras caught Dempster and Quade in a heated argument after Quade informed the Cubs starter that he was being lifted for a pinch-hitter after the fifth inning.
The ironic part is that this was one of Quade's better moves all year. Dempster was obviously laboring, having allowed three runs, seven hits and three walks in five innings of work.
While he had only thrown 87 pitches, he was coming off of a missed start due to back and stomach discomfort. Everything considered, this was one of the better moves by a rookie Cubs manager, who seems unprepared for prime time.
So, since Dempster was obviously way off base, the players think nothing of this? Well, not so fast.
Dempster is one of the few so-called "leaders" in this mostly quiet and docile clubhouse. When he's upset with the manager, it could make other players who have gripes with Quade (and there are always others, especially in a losing season) more apt to act out now.
Don't be surprised if everyone involved makes you think that this was no big deal. In fact, the Cubs PR machine is already cranking out the "nothing to see here, move on" comments via Twitter.
"I'm OK with guys being [ticked] off because they want to compete," MLB.com beat writer reported as Quade's reaction.
I understand the "bulldog" mentality that starting pitchers have and that many fans applaud the desire not to come out of games. But in this case, it was the right move and Dempster's reaction only hurts a team that is already reeling due to an awful season.
Still, don't underestimate Dempster's power to influence players in that dugout. Oh, and don't forget that he's always been GM Jim Hendry's boy as well.
I've been one of Quade's toughest critics for his often head-scratching decision making this season. But I think this was the right move and the blowup in public was unprofessional of Dempster, who has not pitched all that well this season anyway.
Oh well, maybe we can chalk it up to yet another blip in a lousy season. And maybe that's all this is.
Still, if the Cubs continue to stink in the second half, the tempers will only get shorter and it will be interesting to see if Quade can keep this club together.
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