Cubs fans are coming down hard on Travis Wood. He’s had a terrible spring training. He’s pitched himself out of the competition for the starting rotation, and perhaps, off the big league roster.
Instead of locking down a rotation spot, as many anticipated he would, it’s more likely he’ll begin the season at Triple-A, where he’s spent the better part of three seasons with the Reds organization.
That’s well below expectations for most Cubs fans who value Wood solely on the Sean Marshall trade, which is a bad idea because that’s not what the trade was all about.
Marshall was one year away from free agency as a rare elite left-handed setup man. A big payday was coming his way, which wasn’t in line with Theo Epstein’s push to slash payroll while building a younger roster.
Marshall was prime trade bait to accomplish both goals.
Getting Wood in return, a 25-year-old lefty with moderate big league success, was icing on the cake. Not to mention, the Cubs also received two solid prospects in addition to Wood (Dave Sappelt & Ronald Torreyes).
There’s no reason to bash Wood at this point in his career. He’s had a poor spring–big deal. None of it matters come Opening Day.
Besides, it took Marshall until he was 27 to become a reliable arm for Chicago, and another season to reach type-A status.
It often takes years to accurately judge the winner of a baseball trade, if there’s a winner at all.
Losing Marshall hurt, but to deem Wood’s unsightly spring numbers as a sign the Cubs got the short end of the deal is premature–and that’s completely ignoring the fact Epstein did exactly what he wanted to.
If Wood isn’t ready for The Show in 2012, so be it. The Cubs still have a ways to go before they’re in the running for October.
By then, we hope, Wood is primed and ready to become a terrific big league starter, and then might we say heckuva trade, Theo.