If the Jays Sign Ryan Dempster, I’ll be Disappointed

It doesn’t matter if he’s Canadian.  It doesn’t matter how well he pitched with the Cubs before he was traded.  The Jays need pitching but if they sign Ryan Dempster, it’s a mistake.  Ryan Dempster isn’t the type of guy that they need.

 He’s performed pretty well, but…

  • Ryan Dempster has been better-than-average in three-and-a-half of the last five seasons (his FIP has ranged from 3.41 to 3.99);
  • In 2011 he was bad, but in 2012 he pitched very well in a poor pitchers’ park for a bad team, while in Texas he pitched very poorly in a poor pitchers’ park for a good team;
  • An issue in TEX was the long ball: Rogers, YSIII, Fenway, and Camden Yards all ranked in the top 15 in home runs yielded this past season; the Trop ranked #24 (I knew that park had value…)
  • About three out of four or five starts (60-75%) would come in one of those parks.

He has too much experience…

  • He’ll be 36 in May: the Jays need experience but not that much experience;
  • Hiroki Kuroda is in the same age bracket and would take a one-year deal;
  • The Jays need to focus on younger pitchers: they’ll require a greater outlay but they’re much more likely to contribute positively for a longer period of time.

His Second Half in 2012 is Closer to the Truth…

  • Let’s face it: pitching in the AL is different from pitching in the NL, and Dempster has pitched poorly during Inter-League play during his career;
  • The AL East has typically been a strong hitters’ environment;
  • Even with favourite receiver Geovany Soto going to TEX, Dempster yielded four or more earned runs five times in 11 starts.

This table shows his performance vs. the AL East for his career:

G IP H ER HR BB K ERA H/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB HR/9
24 137.2 143 72 21 53 115 4.71 9.35 3.46 7.52 2.17/1 1.37

It’s a decent sized sample (about three-quarters of a season), giving us a better idea of how he would perform pitching for the Jays.  Using the table as a guide (minus his numbers against the Jays), an average line against an AL East team would look something like this: 5.9 IP, 6.3 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 2.3 BB, 4.9 K.  It’s close enough to say that he’d make a quality start, but just barely.

Dave Cameron at Fangraphs suggests a contract of 3 years/$36MM for Dempster.  Two things need to be said about that: it’s a great contract length for a younger pitcher; and TOR ought to put that money toward a younger pitcher.

Ryan Dempster might be a shrewd pick-up for a contender but he wouldn’t be for a team like the Jays.  So, with apologies to the folks in Sechelt, I’d prefer if the Jays let someone else sign Ryan Dempster.  The Jays’ best marketing scheme is a winning team, and he wouldn’t necessarily help them do that.

Wes Kepstro

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5 Responses to “If the Jays Sign Ryan Dempster, I’ll be Disappointed”


  1. 1 budyzer13 November 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I’m sure they will give dempster a look and have a price in mind they would sign him at. But he is on the old side for a pitcher and obviously isn’t a long term solution but could help bridge the gap to the big three prospects ( if they are still around ) if he can contribute with some quality innings. I would prefer they go in a different direction. Younger and more expensive pitchers. 2 or them please. NOW!

    • 2 Wes Kepstro November 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      Re: Dempster
      The danger is that they’ll give him more than just a look.

      I’m not sure that I understand their direction. They seem to be emulating the strategy used in BAL: hide a weak staff behind a lockdown ‘pen. The problem is that BAL needed five guys to have career years at the same time.

      Esmil Rogers had a good second half for a team that collapsed. He’s the umpteenth RP they’ve acquired lately and the prevailing feeling is ‘you can’t have too much pitching.’ I understand the sentiment, but it hasn’t been a very effective strategy so far.

  2. 3 @ALEastbound November 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Jays fans will disagree vehemently but your logic is dead on. He’s overrated and will be overpaid. At a decent price I would take him.

    • 4 Wes Kepstro November 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      I have two irrational fears. First, that AA will sign him because he’s Canadian. And second, that he’ll turn Dempster into a middle reliever and keep him there ’til he’s 45…

      • 5 @ALEastbound November 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm

        You can bet AA will kick tires. I wouldn’t be upset if they signed him a) to a reasonably short deal and b) in conjunction with a far superior other starting pitcher. He is not an ace, especially in the al east.


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