Friday, March 23, 2012

The advantage of incumbency prevails, even for the Cubs

Posted By on 03.23.12 at 03:47 PM

Meet the new opening-day starter, same as the old opening-day starter
  • Joselito Tagarao
  • Meet the new opening-day starter, same as the old opening-day starter
New Cubs manager Dale Sveum announced today that Ryan Dempster would start his second straight opening day for the team against the Washington Nationals on April 5.

Sveum said Dempster got the nod as "the incumbent."

Is that any way to start a new regime?

Matt Garza, the younger, thornier, more pugnacious alternative, looked great in Thursday's exhibition. He had no-hitter stuff early, and all three runs he eventually allowed were unearned.

For the spring, Dempster has the better earned-run average at 3.52, surrendering 16 hits and five walks against eight strikeouts in 14 and two-thirds innings. Garza's fine outing lowered his ERA to 5.84, with 11 hits and six walks against eight strikeouts in 12 and one-third innings. So Dempster's had the better spring strictly statistically speaking.

Yet there's just something about sticking with the same guy who started the last disappointing season for the team. Cubs fans thought the whole idea of the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer administration was that a change was gonna come.

Actually, I'm surprised Epstein and Hoyer didn't prevail on Sveum to start Garza opening day just to elevate his trade value for a midseason deal. It may yet come to that.

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