10:40 AM CDT, August 2, 2012
The more I read Theo Epstein’s alleged defense of Ryan Dempster’s killing the aborted Atlanta deal, the more I think the Cubs president comes back to blaming Dempster for the aborted Atlanta deal.
Epstein, in fact, should've blamed Dempster. Should've torched him.
But no. Epstein took the conciliatory route, saying "it's really hard to criticize Ryan.''
Ah, but if you connect the dots, Epstein gave a bunch of reasons to criticize Dempster and gave some insight on how ticked he must be, especially after Dempster spent a week claiming he never said no to the Atlanta deal.
“He didn’t technically say no,’’ Epstein said. “He said, ‘No, not now. I’m not going to go to Atlanta before I see about L.A.’’’
Sounds like there’s a “no’’ in there. That also sounds like Dempster had given Epstein the OK to trade him to Atlanta. Why else would Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have spent so much time on that deal? Hoyer told WSCR-AM 670’s “Mully & Hanley Show’’ on Thursday that he spent a week crafting the trade to land the Braves’ big prospect, Randall Delgado. Does any sane person believe Hoyer would do that just for practice?
No, he did it because Dempster said OK to Atlanta. The Braves were on Dempster’s list of teams for which he’d waive his no-trade rights. But it turns out, the Cubs couldn’t trust Dempster to keep what they believed was his word because the only team he wanted to go to was the Dodgers.
“It created a market of one until about 15 minutes to go (before the trade deadline),’’ Epstein said.
Dempster should’ve been straight with the Cubs. He should’ve said exactly that when the Cubs asked him to waive his no-trade rights. He didn’t. So, the guy who said weeks earlier that he would waive his rights if it helped the Cubs turned out to be disingenuous. He also wasted the front office’s time and forced Epstein and Hoyer to scramble when Dempster blindsided them.
Oh yeah. That’s another thing: Dempster claimed he was blindsided by the Atlanta deal.
What. A. Crock.
“He certainly wasn’t blindsided because we had been telling him for days that Atlanta was a very likely destination and we were going to have to make a final decision,’’ Epstein said.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s Epstein calling Dempster a liar.
Epstein and Hoyer would take the unusual step of bringing Dempster into the office to hear the trade talks with the Dodgers fail and the discussion with the Rangers heat up.
“I think it was helpful to have him there so he could hear first-hand that (the L.A. deal) wasn’t going to happen,’’ Epstein said.
The move also eliminated more “blindsided’’ garbage from Dempster.
To recap, Epstein and the Cubs got hosed by a player who couldn’t be trusted, came up with less than they targeted, and labor under the criticism that they didn’t make the most of their assets at the trade deadline.
Epstein could’ve gone full-metal Ozzie Guillen on Dempster. Instead, he came off like a mensch. Why would he be so diplomatic?
Because he has many constituencies to appeal to.
His owner and fan base, for starters. Saying the organization got better and being transparent about the activities leading up to the deadline provide an example of some deft ad-libbing under the circumstances. Tom Ricketts believed Epstein was the man to change the organization, and still does, but there are times when even the right man has to give a public accounting.
Another congregation with which Epstein needed to make good was other general managers. They all understand Epstein’s code: The player lied, but we can still make deals, and you can see the Braves and the Paul Maholm trade for details.
Lastly, Epstein had to send the message to other players who hold no-trade rights that they would be handled with care and respect and even be coddled -- whatever it takes to get rid of you in this rebuilding effort.
Alfonso Soriano, hello.