How do you feel about Jim Hendry’s off-season so far? The ‘Big Three’ on his to-do list have been scratched off.
He landed Carlos Pena, the left-handed hitting first baseman: Kerry Wood, the quality bullpen arm, and Matt Garza, a solid No.3 starter. And better, Hendry’s done all this for around $16-million.
Of course, Hendry’s taking a gamble on all three–Pena having a rebound year, Wood’s injury history and the prospects dealt for Garza.
But on the plus side, Hendry’s added some much-needed veteran presence in the clubhouse, limited Pena’s deal to one-year, signed Wood for the right price and landed a legit starter under contract through 2013.
Given these moves the Cubs have a chance to compete in 2011. So what’s not to like?
It hit me Friday when I saw Kerry Wood pitching for the Yankees just how close he had come to making the World Series again. But for the second time, Wood was on the wrong side of the upset.
It’s been seven long years since the 2003 NLCS. Wood was then, 26, and coming off his best season to date–(14-11), 3.20 ERA and 266 strikeouts.
Now he’s a well-worn 33-year-old, clean shaven and pitching in a set-up role. But to make it this far, despite all the setbacks, is a credit to Wood’s character.
He’s handled the highs and lows like a pro, and by reinventing himself from dominate starter to a reliable setup man, he’s carved out a niche to stay in the game.
Wood’s calm demeanor and experience make him a perfect fit in New York. His long road back from arm recoveries has hardened him for the league’s toughest market.
What criticism hasn’t Wood heard about his game, his toughness, his durability that the New York media could say to rattle him? Nothing.
I know not all Cubs fans share my soft spot for Kerry, that the names Wood and Prior are haunting terms in Wrigleyville, names better left unsaid, names to be forgotten. But I still root for Wood, even despite his pindtripes and clean upper lip.
I didn’t expect Dusty Baker’s Reds to knock off the Phillies in the NLDS. But I was hopeful Baker’s bunch would at least have a good showing. That, of course, didn’t happen with Philly making a clean 3-0 sweep.
Although the Reds managed more errors (7) than runs (4), there’s no shame losing a short series against the likes of Halladay, Oswalt & Hamels.
Cincinnati, however, was primed for a Game 2 victory before costly fielding mistakes allowed a four-run lead to evaporate. Sorry Baker-haters, but you can’t blame Dusty for losing the ball in the lights!
I’m surprised teams like Milwaukee and St. Louis let Kerry Wood sign with Cleveland, 2-years for $20.5 million.
After the Brewers fell out of the CC race, as expected, I figured they’d give Wood a call, and the Cards led MLB in blown saves last season.
Wouldn’t Wood be an awfully good closer as a guy who knows the NL Central winning Cubs better than any pitcher on the free-agent market?
Woody finished 2008 (34-40) in saves opportunities with a (5-4) record and 3.26 ERA, far better than anyone the Brewers or Cardinals have penciled in for closing games in 2009.
Nonetheless, the Tribe is a fantastic fit for Kerry…as a club overall they’re super talented and especially in the pen.
Setting up Wood next season is Jensen Lewis, Rafael Perez, Rafael Betancourt and newly acquired Joe Smith (NYM).
Remember, two seasons ago the Indians were one game away from reaching the World Series…Wood is the final piece to a club that will be knocking on the door to the post season again next season as well.