November 15, 2008

Bye bye Kerry Wood

The Cubs traded Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg yesterday, and announced that Kerry wood will not be returning to the team. To many Cubs fans, this was a double slap in the face. I was never a *huge* Wood fan, but I did like him a lot. I don't really follow the line of thinking that "Wood is the face of this franchise" (If it is anyone, it has been Zambrano for the last few years). Wood definitely has some partial 'face of the francise'-ness working for him, but it's more of the bittersweet memories of what might have been, and all of the years of "If Prior and Wood are healthy..." following the 2003 season, which is not great to dwell upon. I felt like that page was finally turned when we finally let Prior go. Wood has been great for how he stuck with the franchise (and felt like he owed something to it) and managed to stay classy with the media (unlike Prior, who may have had a legitimate beef with the Cubs but did a pretty good job of burning his bridges with the organization well before he was finally let go).

At first, I wasn't that surprised when Hendry said that Wood wasn't coming back - I assumed that we had offered him a short-term contract and that Wood had turned it down, since some team is probably going to back the money truck up to him this offseason. However, that does not seem to be the case, and it sucks. From Wood:

... he did say he would've been amenable to staying and "would have done anything" to stay a Cub. The Cubs told him to go get a three- or four-year deal for more money, but Wood said he would've agreed to a one-year deal to stay.

This just a day after we heard Hendry insinuating that the number of years on the contract was what was keeping them apart, and that Wood 'deserved' a four year deal from some other team.

Look - Carlos Marmol is REALLY freaking good, and if Wood was around, it's likely that Marmol would not be the closer. Not that that's a bad thing in my eyes, but I wonder if the front office is either blinded by the line of thought that

-Marmol is our best pitcher, so he should be the closer, and there would be no role for Wood

or (hopefully)

-We need the money to go after Dempster/other starters or a new LH right fielder.

This is not great logic though - even if we resigned Woody, we needed another quality bullpen arm or two to shore up what was kind of rocky for us last season. Which brings us to Kevin Gregg.

The Marlins pulled off a heist with this trade - Gregg is not good. If he's our 7th inning guy next year, that would be okay. But, as someone said on BCB or GROTA (can't remember), Gregg is basically Bob Howry redux. He has closing experience, but he's not really a elite relief pitcher that you can rely on ala Marmol, Wood, K-Rod, those kinds of guys. If he is in the mix with Gaudin and (hopefully) Wuertz as the second tier bullpen guys on the team, then it's sort of an okay trade. But if he becomes the new closer, this was a freaking terrible idea. I think the Cubs are smart enough to put Marmol in the 9th (even if that's not the best way to deploy him) and are just keeping him around for insurance, but I would like more of a sure thing to be our #2 in the bullpen. For most of last season it was just Wood and Marmol as our top guys, and that was it (and even then there was a 2 month stretch where one of the two of them was ineffective, and the rest of our bullpen strained to carry the load). Of course, everyone wants a top-to-bottom awesome bullpen, but that's a luxury few teams have/can afford (there's a reason why most of these guys are pitching middle relief). Plus, Ceda projects to be a good reliever down the road, and we traded one year of Gregg (a 7th inning guy, tops IMHO) for 6 years of Ceda, who will probably be a 7th inning guy but has upside to be an elite setup man/closer down the road.

Anyway, here's where we are right now. I don't think the Peavy trade is going to happen for us OR Atlanta, and re-signing Dempster seems more likely if we're not throwing money at Wood. I don't think (though this is probably wishful thinking) that Hendry is going to go for a FA right fielder - he's probably going to find some way to spin Pie and some other pieces (Marshall, Cedeno, etc) for someone else's RF that might come on the market (Al mentioned Dye the other day on BCB, which was the first decent idea that I've seen come out from over there in several weeks). I just don't think that Ibanez or Abreu will be worth it (too old), though I might be OK with a Milton Bradlet signing. An Adam Dunn signing would be FREAKING AWESOME, but I don't think it's very likely (whether or not the org wanted to try to play him in RF or try to move Soriano to RF). I think a trade is more probable, with DeRosa as the fallback option in RF. I'm becoming more skeptical of a Furcal deal now too, given the market there will probably be for him (though I still think the Cubs should try and get him). This is the way I think things will shake out now

LF Soriano
SS Riot
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
C Soto
RF DeRosa
2B Fontenot
CF Dome/Johnson

B Blanco (back on a new deal, though K Hill would be cheaper)
B Dome/Johnson
B Cedeno
B Hoffpauir
B Pie

1 Zambrano
2 Harden
3 Dempster
4 Lilly
5 Marquis

CL Marmol
B Gregg
B Samardzija
B Gaudin
B Wuertz
B Cotts
LR Marshall

I would not be surprised if Pie gets spun off for a reliever or something in spring training (some sort of quality lefty?) if we can't work out a RF trade partner.