With reports that the Blue Jays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers (and obviously the Tigers and the Red Sox) closely watching Cubs performances of late, part of the intrigue during every Cubs game now and for the next couple of months will be not just who's on the field, but who's in the stands.
For Cubs fans, it seems like results, as painful as it is, has taken a back seat to the overall process. The intrigue this year has been the evaluation of current Cubs players, who will stay, who will go -- and the prospects who will replace the soon-to-be departed.
One of those players, Ryan Dempster, was on the mound today while a few hitters: David DeJesus, Alfonso Soriano and Bryan LaHair, were right smack in the middle of the Cubs lineup.
Cubs 3 - Red Sox 0
On the mound:
Like some scotch, Dempster seems to be getting better with age. At 36, he may be having his best year ever despite the low win total. His 2.11 ERA stands out but his FIP (3.27) and xFIP (3.56) numbers are also at career lows, suggesting that Dempster is in for one of his best seasons statistically. And if anything, he's been even better in his last 3 starts, in which he has not yielded a run, covering 22 innings.
According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, Dempster is the first Cubs pitcher in the live-ball era to pitch 3 consecutive games of 7+ innings, 0 runs, and 4 hits or less.
James Russell pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Carlos Marmol did not pitch a 1-2-3 inning, but he did get the save, thanks to a diving play by Luis Valbuena, though Valbuena made an error soon after. Marmol's velocity was there and so, occasionally, was his slider. He got the save, but it wasn't pretty.
At the plate:
Theo must have been proud. The Cubs were patient right out of the gate, walking the bases loaded in the first before Clevenger knocked two in with a single. Luis Valbuena had a 10 pitch AB in the next inning as the Cubs worked Daiuske for 52 pitches in the first two innings.
The Cubs added another run in the second when Dempster hit what may have been one of the most slow developing triples I've ever seen. It was a soft fly that dropped in front of a clumsy dive by RF Adrian Gonzalez, who was obviously not playing his natural position. Dempster turned the corner at 2B with all the fluidity of of a refrigerated bottle of ketchup, yet made 3B standing up. He later scored on a single by David DeJesus to put the Cubs up 3-0. Dempster had 2 of the Cubs 4 hits.
Real tough day for Cubs SS Starlin Castro who went 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts, a HBP, and an error on the field in what was a tough hop off the lip of the grass.
Dempster certainly helped his stock today. His days as a Cub are numbered as the Cubs really need to get something of value for their top starter before he leaves as a free agent after this season. While there is plenty of time until the July 31st deadline, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team jump on Dempster while he's red-hot.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers are interested in Matt Garza. I made a list of interesting Dodgers pitching prospects here. Although the Dodgers may be able to ask for top Dodgers pitching prospect Zach Lee in a deal for Garza.
David Kaplan tweets this additional information...
I spoke w/ 2 scouts who were at today's Cubs/Red Sox game + both told me that Yankees are much more interested in Matt Garza than Dempster. They also feel price to acquire Garza will be extremely high as opposed to cost of landing Dempster which could make Demp easier to move.
Stay tuned everyone. The hot stove is heating up....