Goatriders of the Apocalypse

The Kerry Wood Friday Thread

Free Agency is the devil.  Three decades ago, one could safely assume that your favorite player would stay with his team from Year One to his retirement.  There are aspects of that which are really cool, because entire generations of baseball fans grew up cheering for the same player at the age of 20 as they did back when they were 7.

These days, players bounce around teams like a pinball.  They are rarely loyal, almost never obligated, and they can perhaps best be characterized as being mercenaries.  Point of fact, there are very few veterans in their early-to-mid 30's who remain with the team that drafted them.  Guys like Jason Varitek, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera are rare and, not coincidentally, ridiculously well-compensated by their teams. Funny thing is, the Cubs have a guy like that.  His name is Kerry Wood.

Wood has now been a part of the Cubs organization for more than 13 years.  He has seen highs and lows - he's suffered through elbow and shoulder injuries, he's become the toast of the town, he's seen multiple 90+ loss teams, and he's reached the playoffs in a Cubs uniform more than any other player in the organization's history.  He's also displayed unusual loyalty - since his arm injuries really became the story of his career, Wood has made compromises to stay a Cub.  He's accepted one-year deals heavy in bonuses, even though other teams have been willing to take a multi-year chance on him.

This past season, Wood was converted to closer.  He went through rocky periods, but he turned out to be reliable and, at times, all-out dominant.  He also again missed one big chunk of time in the season - a full month battling (of all things) a blister. But he's proven that he is a serviceable closer, his arm was not a problem at all this year, and he is again a pending free agent who will likely be coveted by numerous teams.  Can Jim Hendry bring him back?

It's questionable.  The current hanging issue is years.  Wood's already given the Cubs a few one-year deals.  He's worked to prove that he can be reliable.  The current rumor is that he wants a 3 year deal minimally, while the Cubs may be reluctant to give him more than 2 years.

I think that a compromise might be something like I suggested in my massive Free Agency article last week:

Offer Wood a 2 year deal which pays somewhere between 7-8 million a season.  Include minimally 1 and perhaps 2 option years which automatically kick in if Wood meets an innings pitched requirement of, say, 100 between Years 1 and 2.  Hell, do it just like this:

Year 1: 6.5 million
Year 2: 7.5 million
Year 3: If 100 innings pitched in Yrs 1 and 2, 8.5 million, can be voided by the pitcher
Year 4: If 160 innings pitched in Yrs 1, 2, and 3, 9.5 million, can be voided by the pitcher

Hopefully this would keep Wood happy.  It would also make him very well-paid (if not overpaid) to be the closer.

Regardless, Kerry Wood actually likes Chicago.  He is actually loyal to this city, this team, and the fans.  He may go, but I don't think he will, and if any player on the current Cubs team has a chance of wearing a Cubs uniform from Day First to Day Last, it's Kerry Wood.

And remember.  Jim Hendry has a track record of retaining any and every free agent Cub he's wanted to keep.  Does anybody here think there's a chance that Hendry doesn't want to keep Kerry Wood a Cub?

Varitek

Should note that Varitek isn't a home grown prospect. He was drafted by the Mariners and traded to the Red Sox, along with Derek Lowe, for Heathcliff Slocumb. How'd that work out for both teams?

In terms of my analogy, being

In terms of my analogy, being a home-grown prospect isn't as important as having played for one team your entire career ... I'm pretty sure Varitek never saw action at the ML level until he wore a Sox jersey.

Exactly...

I'd consider Sandberg 'home grown'.

too bad Sandberg played his 7 games for the Phillies

While I preach "no sentiment" on the other 24 roster spots, they must keep Wood. He is the Heart and Soul of the Cubs, for better or worse. Perhaps you even take it a step further, wondering if he somehow holds the remnants of the "old failed Cubs organization" within him.

Don't be ridiculous....

I think Wood could easily get

I think Wood could easily get a 3 year and $36 million deal and probably even a 4 year, $48 million deal. He's the 2nd best free agent closer available behind Rodriguez. He'll take home a lot of cash if he wants and after several years of giving the Cubs a discount, I doubt he feels indebted to them. I don't see how a 2 year/$14 million deal would work. I think you'd have to go at least 2/24 with the 3rd and 4th years being options and $15-16 million per year, if not more.

I don't think the Cubs have the money to sign him unless they get rid of a contact and if they do that, they'll have to address another area.

Wood is one of my favorite players, but I'm afraid his Cubs career has come to an end.

Wood vs. K-rod

Other than health Wood was actually a better pitcher this year than K-rod, he was better in his controllable skills.

Let's remember..

He played for a relatively low contract this season because he felt bad about the injuries and taking money for seasons he didn't play. He would forgo a big FA payday to win with this Cubs team. Although Hendry sounded skeptical when talking about Woody, and more confident about Demp...

Sad

but true, Maddog.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award