LOS ANGELES - Ryan Dempster wasn't the only one disappointed with the Cubs' inability to get a deal done with the Los Angeles Dodgers before trading the pitcher to the Texas Rangers at Tuesday's trade deadline.
``It would have been great,'' said Dempster's pal Ted Lilly, the Dodger pitcher who was a big reason Dempster used his no-trade rights to create - as Cubs brass called it -- ``a market of one [team].''
``And along with that there's no doubt that he would have made our team better, with the exception of Thursday,'' Lilly deadpanned, referring to Dempster's rough debut for Texas.
Lilly said he and Dempster didn't talk as much as some might think leading up to the deadline as Dempster blocked a trade to Atlanta and stayed focused on L.A.
``I talked to him a little bit but I kind of let him call me,'' said Lilly, who hasn't talked to him since the trade. ``I just imagined that he had a lot of people probably putting in different directions. Obviously, he was one of the prized pitching targets out there for a lot of clubs. I'm sure besides myself there were a lot of guys that would have liked to have added him to their teams.''
Lilly said he also didn't talk to Dodgers management on Dempster's behalf at any point in the process.
``I don't think he really needs me or anyone else to vouch for his character and his work ethic and what he's all about,'' said Lilly, whose shoulder injury is one of the reasons the Dodgers were looking for pitching and eventually traded for Joe Blanton in a waiver deal Friday.
Lilly defended Dempster's side in a weeklong saga that put the longtime fan favorite in the crosshairs of widespread fan backlash for rejecting Atlanta's hard deadline on a trade the teams had agreed to involving high-end Braves pitching prospect Randall Delgado.
``Why even have that in play if it's never going to be used?'' Lilly, a former player-union team representative, said of Dempster's rights as a 10-year veteran with at least five years with his current team. ``He caught a lot of heat for it. So what's the point of having 10-5 [rights] if you put that player in [that] position? ... It kind of puts a player in a tough spot.''