When Kerry Wood tossed his glove into the stands following another poor outing in May it was pretty clear something wasn’t right with the aging Cub.
Wood had lost his pitch control, his velocity was down and I speculated the thought of retirement was eating at him, as well.
At the time I expected Wood to make a lengthy trip to the DL where he could ready himself for one last hurrah late in the season to close out his career with the Cubs.
May 12: The worst case scenario is Wood continues to struggle and the Cubs are forced to issue an ultimatum to ‘retire’ or accept his unconditional release from the club.
It would be a rather sad ending for a much beloved Cub, but the more Wood struggles, the more likely it becomes Kerry finalizes his Cubs career standing with family members behind home plate at Wrigley Field during a small ceremony held in late September.
That small ceremony played out just as expected at Wrigley Field as part of Kerry Wood Appreciation Day on Sunday. The only difference was Wood wasn’t wearing a Cubs uniform.
I never did anticipate Wood’s abrupt retirement coming the way it did in late May…not that many did…but it’s a shame the Cubs couldn’t win Wood’s last game against the White Sox or against the Cardinals on Sunday. Somehow, though, it seems fitting of Kerry’s career with Chicago—close but no cigar.
WALKS WILL HUANT: If there’s one area the Cubs must improve on next season it’s walks. Chicago leads all of baseball with 546 free passes.
By comparison, the Nationals are ranked 15/30 in baseball with 462 walks–84 fewer than the Cubs. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is the best in the majors having issued only 385 base on balls. And even if you take away Chicago’s 35 intentional walks, they’re still in the top 6 in walks allowed.
It’s no surprise starters Ryan Dempster (2.34), Paul Maholm (2.56) and Matt Garza (2.78) still sport the best BB/9 ratio on the team.
In their absence, however, fill-ins Brooks Raley (4.07), Chris Volstad (3.82) and Chris Rusin (3.43) sport the worst BB/9 among Cubs starters.
But it’s the bullpen that’s at the crux of the issue like it was on Sunday. Cubs relievers walked four in only 3.1 innings with Alberto Cabrera walking three of his five batters faced. Not surprisingly, it set up the eventual game-winning runs to score in a 6-3 loss. That just can’t happen.
Jaye Chapman (7.71), Carlos Marmol (7.57), Cabrera (7.45), Lendy Castillo (6.57), Jeff Belvieau (6.19) and Rafael Dolis (5.94) are all above 5.00 BB/9. Anything above 4.50 is ridiculous!
You simply can’t put that many runners on base and expect to be a contender, and especially with an offense ranked 28/30 in runs scored (586).
Closing In: Darwin Barney played his 138th-straight game without committing an error at second base on Sunday. He’s now three-games shy of tying Placido Polanco’s major league record of 141-consecutive games at second base without an error.
That means Barney will have his opportunity to tie the mark at Colorado on Thursday and possibly break the record at Arizona on Friday night (Cubs are off today).
If Barney plays the remainder of the Cubs’ schedule without committing an error he would top-out at 147-straight games. Rather impressive.