Dempster Dive: From Circle of Trust to Ring of Fire

You can frame the Ryan Dempster Trade Deadline Experience any way you like, gamer. Call it an Eminence Front, a put-on. Call it a Sabotage. Call it a Bait and Switch.

Heck, call Tuesday's trade it a great move for the Rangers, if you like (righty Kyle Hendricks and third baseman Christian Villanueva weren't going to help them in 2012). But that's real baseball. I'm just operating in the fantasy world right now.

It's been a tough week or so for rotoheads on the Dempster front. We thought he was headed to Atlanta last week (hey, great), but that fell apart. A trade to the Dodgers was close Tuesday morning (sign us up), but that didn't go through. Even no Dempster trade would have been acceptable, given the division the Cubs belong to.

Alas, Dempster was moved to the Rangers right before the 4 pm ET bell rang on Tuesday. It was a logical move for Texas, given Colby Lewis just had forearm surgery and Neftali Feliz needs an elbow reconstruction. The Roy Oswalt disaster hasn't helped the cause either, not to mention the Angels annexing Zack Greinke. The Rangers needed a pitcher, everyone knew that.

But this is not where Dempster owners wanted their man to go. In some NL-only pools, Dempster is now off the board, a non-factor. And in standard mixers, he's traded the cushy NL for the softball-style AL. The junior circuit is a slow-pitch softball league, tap the keg and swing from the heels. No weak-hitting pitchers to be found.

I know some readers think I go overboard with park factors, league disparities and divisional slants, but I firmly believe if you want to play the game right, you need to take this stuff seriously. Let's examine Dempster's old home park, good old Wrigley Field, and the new one he's moving to, Rangers Ballpark at Arlington (or whatever they're calling it this week).

Over the last three years, Wrigley has boosted batting average by three percent and scoring by eight percent. Homers go up three percent. Lefty hitters get a three-percent raise in average and a 11-percent jump in power.

That's a good place to hit, but Arlington takes it to the extreme. Average rises by seven percent, runs by 19 percent, homers, by 26 percent. And while lefties take a modest four-percent boost in average, their homers jump by 31 percent.

The disparity is significant for 2012, too. Arlington has pushed runs by 15.6 percent and homers by 11.6 percent, while Wrigley has been essentially runs neutral and a three-percent tax on homers. For all the talk of the Friendly Confines on the North Side, Wrigley's playability usually comes down to the prevailing wind — and on many days, it's a tricky place for offense.

The road schedule on tap is a mixed bag for Dempster, too. The Rangers still have to visit a handful of scoring-friendly yards: Yankee Stadium (for four games), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre. Two visits to Kansas City are also on the docket, in addition to three-game sets at Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Seattle and Oakland.

I know the support arguments that some will make for Dempster, though Texas is the lowest scoring team in the AL this month. And the Rangers bullpen (14th in ERA) does offer more comfort than the Chicago bullpen (26th in ERA). But the league and park switches, to be honest, terrify me. If you disagree, that's fine — that's why we have a game.

If I were Shuffling Up for the pitchers right now, I'd have Dempster around $10. He might prove to be a handy streamer when the opponent lines up, sure, but in shallow mixed leagues or any pool with a low innings cap, I'm not making him a permanent staple to my roster. I'm not going to take chances with my starting pitchers when the NL offers so many safer landing spots.

That's my story, I'm sticking to it. What's your game plan going forward? We'll get through this (and take cover) together.

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