Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kerry Wood…I wish he wasn’t such a nice guy

Kerry Wood.

Most of you know that things have gone back and forth on whether or not Kerry Wood is coming back next year.

The whole situation is extremely strange.

Kerry Wood has said in the past, that he would either play for the Cubs or retire.  Well, for some reason, things have hit a snag here and Kerry is now being courted by some other teams including the Phillies and Reds. 

Earlier this week, Kerry Wood was interviewed, and he sounded as if his time in Chicago was about to come to an end.  Last week in an interview, Theo Epstein said that the Cubs were going to make every effort to bring Wood back and that if a deal didn’t get done, “shame on us”.  Yet yesterday, GM Jed Hoyer said that the Cubs had made Wood an offer with a “significant raise”. 

The fact that Hoyer made a statement like that immediate shifts the blame from Epstein’s “us” to Wood himself. 

I’ve said before that Wood isn’t worth much more than about $2 to $2.5 million next year.  This is a player that has had a WAR over 0.5 once since 2004. I don’t know what official projections have for Wood in 2012, but I would assume he projects about to around a WAR of 0.4 or so. That would validate my thoughts about what his salary should be next year.  It might be safe to assume that Hoyer’s offer to Wood was somewhere in that range.  That would be between a 33% to 67% raise over the $1.5 million that Wood made last year.  Yes, that is significant, percentagewise. 

Rumors have it that Wood could get around $4 million on the open market probably because of Wood’s ability to close. 

It was truly a wonderful gesture last year for Wood to come back at that reduced rate.  He’s a great ambassador for the Cubs and the city of Chicago.  Fans love him. 

Unfortunately, Wood just doesn’t have a place on this team right now.  If the Cubs had no problem getting rid of Sean Marshall, another very competent setup man, why would they want to re-sign a much older, more fragile and much less reliable pitcher for possibly more money?  If the Cubs were to actually re-sign Wood they couldn’t even trade him without the wrath of the world coming down on Jed and Theo for doing so. 

Kerry Wood adds no value to a team that is in a full rebuilding mode and would take up a roster spot that could be used by the Cubs to give a prospect a chance to prove himself. 

It pains me to say all this.  I like Kerry Wood.  I really don’t want to see him in another team’s uniform again (especially the Reds).  But, just like the pain of some of the other moves this offseason, this is the price we pay for going “all in” with a true rebuilding effort. 

Last week, it seemed as if Theo was preparing everyone one for the eventuality that Kerry Wood would not be re-signed.  He was preparing to take the blame.  That’s what makes Hoyer’s comments yesterday so curious.  Has something changed over the last week inside the Cubs front office?  Maybe they have decided that the only way to get fans to accept the fact Wood isn’t coming back is to make it look like it was Wood’s choice to leave.  I don’t know. 

Part of me still believes that this is all posturing by the two sides and that a deal will be worked out (and worked out in very short order).  Wood still works out at Wrigley every day, according to some reports. 

Unfortunately, logic tells me that this likely to be then end of Kerry in a Cubs uniform, at least as a player.  The fact that Wood continues to act as if he is still a member of the team may indicate that he plans on retiring instead.  I don’t know. 

It will be interesting to watch how this whole situation ends because it will show us exactly how far Jed and Theo are willing to detach the current team from the 103 years of failure.  You’d like to think there is some flexibility, even in the current situation, for the team to make some completely pointless, yet sentimental move.  And that’s what this would be.  It’s just too bad Wood is such a nice guy.