Ryan Dempster's announcement that he will not pitch in 2014 didn't cause any particlular outcry from writers and fans. First of all, Dempster is nearly 37 years old. Second, he was considered the number 5 man in the rotation in 2013. His stats seem very average- an 8-9 mark in 29 starts and a 4.57 ERA. He also worked out of the bullpen in the postseason.
A closer look at the stats, however, begins to show how Dempster might be missed. His hits to innings pitched ratio is close to one- not great but not bad either. Also, his strikeouts to walks ratio was as good as any hurler on the staff.
In the clubhouse, Dempster's absence will create a void. His Wikipedia biography states: "Dempster is known for his laid-back attitude, constantly joking with fans, and is said to be a postive contribution to a team's clubhouse. Dempster's fun and easy-going personality was especially evident when.in
March of 07, he stated that if his career as a closer began to tumble, hw would pursue ninja training. When asked about the player most responsible for keeping the Sox clubhouse loose, manager John Farrell always listed Ryan number 1.
Like several members of last year's Beard Man Group, he has had to overcome personal adversity. His daughter Riley is afflicted with a rare genetic disorder called Di George Syndrome, which affects swallowing, breathing and speech. Asked if she would lead a normal life, he replied "yes, but there's a lot of work to do. They say there are 186 symptoms you have. You just check off ones as you go along." Riley's condition may be a factor in his decision to sit out the year.
To replace Dempster's veteran presence, the Sox signed 35-year old Chis Capuano, a lefty who can both start and relieve. Like Grady Sizemore, another offseason pickup, Capuano has had to miss more than two seasons with various injuries, including two Tommy John's. He is coming off a somewhat down year in LA, but the previous two seasons provided 33 starts and showed some durability.
It does not seem likely that either Capuano or rookies like Brandon Workman and Allen Webster can replace Dempster's contributions, especially in the clubhouse. Neither youngster has looked good in spring training. But as the Sox begin a quest for a World Championship repeat, they need to have some depth both starting and relieving.