Now let's see Epstein perform as well as Dempster

It’s as if Ryan Dempster wants to get traded.

I realize that Dempster gave his OK for the Cubs to trade him, but it felt grudging. There’s no way Dempster wants to leave the Cubs, even as bad as they are. He loves the team, the stadium and the city. They all love him right back.

But here’s the thing: Dempster didn’t just give the Cubs approval to shop him, he gave potential trade partners a sneak preview. The Cubs couldn’t have asked for a better commercial than Dempster’s insistent effort in New York that advertised his value, health and character.

Dempster had been placed on the disabled list with a right lat muscle injury and was scheduled to return after the All-Star Game. But there he was last week, forcing his way off the DL and bugging manager Dale Sveum for a start before the break.

Sveum sent him out there, and everybody was rewarded with five shutout innings that ran Dempster’s scoreless streak to 27.

See? It’s as if Dempster is in a hurry to leave. As if he wants to get traded.

And that’s good --- for the Cubs, Dempster, and the team that gets him.

The talent-gobbling Cubs likely will demand three solid prospects but probably settle for two because of Dempster’s age and contract. Dempster will go to a contending team, and that team will get a guy who can help win a World Series. A win-win-win proposition

Forget his wins, although his 4-3 record for a team 19 games under .500 is an argument for beatification. More revealing and most impressive is his 1.99 ERA. That’s a magnificent number. Microscopic, too. It’s the best in the National League and second in the majors behind Angels stud Jered Weaver’s 1.96.

No wonder Dempster calls this the best first half of his 15-year-career.

Oh, wait, another thing: Dempster could’ve let the schedule be the schedule. He could’ve come back when the Cubs expected him to. He could’ve sat it out.

But no. He came back early. Dempster showed the Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Tigers and other rumored suitors that his heart and backbone are as strong as his right lat muscle.

In showing that’s he’s healthy, Dempster gave Theo Epstein a head start. Instead of waiting until next Friday at the earliest, Dempster allowed the Cubs’ baseball honcho to engage in significant trade talks by about 1:30 p.m. CDT on Sunday.

Epstein already was running up his cell minutes over Dempster, but Sunday’s outing might’ve blown up Epstein’s call waiting.

Now it’s on Epstein to be as good on the phone as Dempster is on the mound.
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