Tag:Kerry Wood
Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 10:14 am

Cubs' job attractive, future options plenty

By Matt Snyder

Congratulations, Theo Epstein, on likely landing the new gig of Cubs president, CEO, general manager, czar, savior, curse-breaker and deity. In addition to all those millions of dollars, you now inherit a mess of a franchise. The good news is that statement only exists in the present and very near future. Things can be cleaned up rather quickly. Here's why:

• It's funny to read all over the place about how the Cubs have so many awful contracts and are so much more handcuffed on payroll than Epstein is used to. The fact of the matter is that only Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol are signed past 2012, along with the young players who will still be under team control and don't make much. And then Marmol's contract expires after 2013. Depending on arbitration raises and possible extensions (Matt Garza, maybe?) the Cubs are shedding somewhere in the ballpark of $50 million from their 2011 payroll. Come 2013, as things currently stand, only $28.8 million is committed (to Soriano and Marmol). In 2014, only Soriano's absurd $19 million salary is still on the books, but by 2015, there's nothing left.

• My guess is it's true, for now, that Epstein is likely going to be told to not exceed a figure like $135 million with his payroll and that is a good amount less than the Red Sox's current figure. But here's the mitigating factor: The Cubs are in the NL Central, where they easily have the largest market and revenue stream in the division. In Boston, Epstein was trying to keep up financially with the mighty Yankees. In the Chicago, his biggest competitor in terms of market size is Houston -- which is departing for the AL soon -- and in terms of revenue stream it's St. Louis. The Cubs have the resources to be the "big boy" in the division, which wasn't possible for Epstein in Boston.

• Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has already shown a significant commitment to player development. The Cubs spent a huge amount of money on the 2011 draft and they are building a state of the art academy in the Dominican Republic. They are looking to make major upgrades to Arizona's spring training facility, which would serve as a type of home base for player development. The Cubs also have a great reputation for international scouting. Put simply, Ricketts has noticed the biggest problem for the Cubs has been a system that doesn't regularly churn out its own prospects and he has done everything he can to rectify that issue in the short term.

So, that's why the job was attractive, but there's no doubt there's a lot to be done. This is a team that went 71-91 and has a pretty lackluster level of talent in the upper levels of the minors -- not to mention the aging major-league roster.

As every franchise faces when trying to make a losing team into a winning team, there are three distinct routes that can be taken. Let's take a look at each and get specific.

Cubs/Red Sox drama
Route 1: The Complete Rebuild
Don't pick up the options for Ryan Dempster or Aramis Ramirez. Trade younger veterans of value like Geovany Soto, Sean Marshall and Matt Garza. Do whatever it takes to off-load Alfonso Soriano's contract. Do the same with Carlos Zambrano. Carlos Marmol and Marlon Byrd might land decent returns, so they would also be traded. Don't re-up with any veterans like Kerry Wood. Just completely revamp the entire farm system and build around Starlin Castro and Andrew Cashner. Then tell everyone they need to be patient, as the goal is to grow the system from the foundation and start competing in 2014.

Chances this happens:
Decent to good, for at least part of this. Epstein very well may start completely slow and see how things pan out with several different young players. I do think he would keep Garza with Castro and Cashner and then start to pounce on free agents starting next offseason.

Route 2: The Chips to the Center of the Table
Re-up with Dempster and Ramirez. Do what it takes to sign Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson, including backloading deals to make the budget work. Move Starlin Castro to second base and sign Jose Reyes (again, backloading). Grab someone like Javier Vazquez, Chris Young or Joel Pineiro to fill out the rotation. That means the starting nine would be: Soto, Fielder, Castro, Reyes, Ramirez, Soriano, Byrd and probably Bryan LaHair. The starting rotation could be: Wilson, Garza, Dempster, Vazquez and Randy Wells. That leaves Andrew Cashner -- who is hitting triple digits on the radar gun in the Arizona Fall League -- to be the closer. Marmol can stay in the bullpen and hope to work on his control. Wood, Marshall and Jeff Samardzija would be the setup men.

Chances this happens:
Ridiculously slim. Actually, zero. Epstein isn't a moron and this would be absurd for the long-term health of the franchise, especially considering the team probably still wouldn't be good enough to win even an NLDS, if it made it. There's no depth, either, since the high levels of the minors don't have a lot of help coming. And could Epstein even get all those guys if he tried? Finally, the band-aid-on-a-broken-leg approach got Jim Hendry fired, so there's no way Tom Ricketts would hire Epstein to do the same thing.

Route 3: The Combination
I often chuckle when people think you absolutely have to choose either Route 1 or Route 2. In a small market, yes, you have to completely rebuild and hope all the young players get good at the same time, like the Royals appear to have happening in 2013 or 2014. In a large market, the resources are there to do both. Epstein developed the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Dustin Pedroia while also making trades for veterans and signing big-name free agents in Boston. It's a much bigger project this time around, but the goal can be to do something similar in Wrigley. While the farm system is being revamped for the Cubs, an effort can be made to start allowing the aging veterans to leave via free agency while players like Soto, Marshall, Marmol, and Dempster (with him, it's a one-year option and there will be enough money to retain him) can be kept around. Wood can be re-signed for another one-year, $1.5 million contract. And then you can fill holes with younger free agents. C.J. Wilson? Pass on him and keep your eyes on that 2013 pitching free agent class that could contain Matt Cain, John Danks, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez, James Shields and more. A 27-year-old Prince Fielder? Yes, please. The Reyes signing mentioned above, with moving Castro to second? Nope. Not now. Try Andrew Cashner and Jeff Samardzija in the rotation? Yes and maybe. Give LaHair a shot in right field, absolutely. He had a huge 2011 season in both Triple-A and then hit the ball well in his short time in the majors. Do you think about promoting center-field prospect Brett Jackson and trading Byrd midseason? Sure, if the Cubs aren't in the race. The whole point is that, ideally, with this plan, you'd put a team together for 2012 that appears to be average, giving it the chance to overachieve and sneak into the playoffs -- but the eyes are certainly on 2013 being the turnaround year. From there, you strive to compete for the World Series title every ensuing season.

Chances this happens:
I feel like this is the most likely route. The main benefit is you don't completely punt 2012 after getting the fan base excited with the big-name hire. In the complete rebuild model, you're liable to lose 100 games and kill fan morale instead of capitalizing on all the excitement. And in the win now model, there just isn't enough there to bring it all together in one offseason. So here we are. Here, you can have a mildly successful 2012 season while getting the fans excited for a bright future. All the moves above are just examples of what can be done, as the plan can be the same but be done with totally different moves.

But this is all purely speculation -- and fun, as is all hypothetical talk -- as the only person who really knows what is going in on Epstein's head right now is Epstein himself.

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 6:06 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 6:09 pm

Wood says it's Cubs or retirement for 2012

Kerry WoodBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Kerry Wood will be with the Cubs in 2012 or he will retire, at least that's what the veteran pitcher told reporters on Monday.

Wood will miss the rest of the 2011 season with a tear in the meniscus in his left knee, an injury he said has bothered him most of the season. But Saturday Wood said he felt something pop while he was squatting in the bullpen.

"Glad it happened now," Wood said (Chicago Tribune).

Wood will have arthroscopic surgery on the knee after the season, but expects to be ready to pitch in 2012 -- if the Cubs will have him back.

"I'll be ready to roll," Wood said (CSNChicago.com). "It shouldn't be an issue at all." 

After spending time with the Indians and the Yankees in the last two seasons, Wood returned to the Cubs on a one-year, $1.5 million deal this season. The 34-year-old right-hander served as the team's primary set-up man this season and went 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 55 games, earning one save. He struck out 57 and walked 21 in 51 innings.

After arm troubles sidelined his career, Wood reemerged as a reliever in 2007 and has recorded 63 career saves, including 34 in 2008. After being traded from the Indians to the Yankees last season, Wood served as a set-up man, a role he thrived in with his below-market value deal to return to the team that drafted him with the fourth overall pick in the 1995 draft.

If Wood is willing to accept another bargain deal from the team, it would seem to be a no-brainer for the Cubs to bring him back. Of course, that's going to be up to the new general manager, whoever that may be.

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 4:43 pm

Wood hopes to remain with Cubs

WoodBy Evan Brunell

Kerry Wood, who knew fired GM Jim Hendry for 17 years, hopes to stay with the Cubs, even with a new GM on the way.

"I've got to go out and pitch and get guys out, so if I'm doing that we can talk in the offseason about what I want to do as far as next year is concerned and make a decision," Wood told ESPN 1000. "But hopefully Chicago would like to have me back."

Wood, who signed a below-market deal for one year and $1.5 million to return to Chicago in what is believed to be a long-term arrangement in his playing and post-playing days, has a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 relief innings.

Wood also spoke about Hendry's firing, admitting he was surprised by it.

"That's part of the game," Wood said. "Jim was here for a long time. I knew him for almost 17 years. He did great work here and did a great job. That's just part of the game. It's time for him to move on. He's going to land on his feet and he's going to be doing this for a long time. He'll be fine. I'm not worried about Jim Hendry."

"I think the timing was more of a surprise than the decision. But again that's part of the business. It's not my place to ask why and all those questions. It is what it is. I feel bad for him and his family but he's going to bounce back and do the same job somewhere else and be successful."

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Posted on: July 17, 2011 7:28 pm

Quade: Umps' calls 'mind-bloggling'

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cubs have been bad enough this season without help -- but they got it on Sunday when second base umpire Lance Barrett erred when calling Marlins runner Brett Hayes safe on Kerry Wood's pickoff throw.

The game was tied at 4 with two outs in the eighth when Wood tried to pick Hayes off. With a correct call, the Cubs are out of the inning. However, afterward Emilio Bonifacio hit an infield single to load the bases before Wood walked in a run and then gave up a two-run single to Logan Morrison.

After the game, Mike Quade went off (from the Chicago Tribune):

"I don't make a lot of excuses," Quade said. "I probably could have got run two or three times in this series alone. Thrown out three times, young manager, all that crap. But it's getting tough to watch some of this.

"I have all the respect int he world for [umpires]. We've heard a lot of [negative] comments lately and I've tried to stay out of it, but there were a couple of calls in this series that were mind-boggling -- and were crucial and huge. Not just two out and nobody on stuff.

"And [there were] some comments made [by umpires] and other stuff that irritated me."

Wood agreed, calling the call "terrible." According to the Tribune he added: "He's right on it, right there on top of it, and he butchered it."

Expect a fine for both -- even though they were right. Check out the screengrab from MLB.tv below:

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:18 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 5:48 pm

Marmol's job in jeopardy after another bad outing

By Matt Snyder

Cubs closer Carlos Marmol had one of the worst imaginable outings Thursday night, as he blew his seventh save in 26 opportunities. He faced five batters, walked four and allowed a bases-loaded double. He ended up being charged with five earned runs while having recorded zero outs.

His ERA jumped more than a run, from 2.57 to 3.64. He's now blown three of his last six save chances, and his inability to command the strike zone is a constant problem.

Still, Cubs manager Mike Quade said after the game the job was still Marmol's.

“Marm’s the guy, and has been the guy and needs to be the guy. He’ll be better,” Quade said Thursday night (MLB.com).

Friday, however, gave Quade second thoughts. The Cubs went to Marmol, again, with a 2-0 lead in the ninth. He nearly coughed up the game and didn't finish the inning. Quade summoned Sean Marshall, who struck out Mike Stanton with the tying run on base. Marmol's outing began with a four-pitch walk and he would have blown the save had Hanley Ramirez not committed a baserunning gaffe. With one out and a man on, Ramirez hit a ball into the gap, but loafed out of the batter's box and was thrown out at second base. Had he made it, Marmol was looking at runners on second and third with one out. Marmol then gave up another single and was pulled for Marshall.

One or two more bad outings and it could mean the end for Marmol permanently, but for the time being, Quade said he's going with Marshall and Kerry Wood to close out games (MLB.com via Twitter). Quade reportedly said he'll let Marmol work on things for a few days and there's no set timetable for the switch. So it sounds temporary.

 I don't think there's any other option than to remove Marmol from closing duties immediately. In addition to the control woes, something seems wrong with Marmol's arm. Friday, he was throwing fastballs about 90 m.p.h. and his slider was in the mid-80s. He used to throw at least mid-90s fastball and worked up in the high-90s at times. His slider doesn't seem to have near as much bite as it used to, either.

Regardless of the reason, though, Marmol is simply not getting the job done and needs a lesser role. It's a good decision by Quade.

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 3:15 pm

Cubs place Zambrano on disabled list

ZambranoBy Evan Brunell

The Cubs placed Carlos Zambrano on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury, recalling reliever Kerry Wood.

Zambrano left Thursday's start without registering an out in the second after complaining of soreness in his lower back. He underwent an MRI, the results of which have not been released. Given Zambrano was moving around just fine in tossing out the first pitch for a softball team later that night, plus scuttling away from a foul ball (click for video).

The move is likely precautionary more than anything, as Z was due to make just two starts before the All-Star break, which adds additional days of rest for Zambrano, who previously hit the DL in 2009 with back soreness. Zambrano had righted the ship as of late, with a 4.34 ERA on the season. Over his two prior starts to Thursday, he had tossed 15 innings, giving up five earned runs which translates to a 3.00 ERA.

MLB.com reports that journeyman Ramon Ortiz will replace Big Z in the rotation. Chicago was a bit unlucky with the injury as they had just designated Doug Davis for assignment on Wednesday, and he is unable to return to fill in the breach. Ortiz will pitch for his seventh major-league club (seven in the last eight years), all the more notable given he did not pitch in the majors in 2008 and '09.

Last season, Ortiz made two starts and 14 bullpen appearances for the Dodgers, posting a 6.30 ERA. Down on the farm this year, the 38-year-old made 15 starts for the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate, posting a 4.44 ERA, hardly inspiring. His 1.9 walks per nine innings plus 7.1 K/9 rate do offer some optimism. Despite that, the Cubs will eagerly await Z's return so they can bump Ortiz.

Ortiz will make his Cubs debut on Tuesday against the Nationals.

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Posted on: June 30, 2011 2:00 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 6:47 pm

Wood doesn't expect to go anywhere

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Kerry WoodCubs reliever Kerry Wood had options this offseason as a free agent, but chose the Cubs for a bargain-basement deal.

Wood, 34, is one of the few movable pieces for the Cubs, but the right-hander said he doesn't want to go anywhere.

"I think it would have to be great for both," Wood told the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles, referring to himself and the Cubs. "Obviously, [wife] Sarah and I will talk about it. We have a little bit. It would have to be ideal for both. It would have to be something that is definitely going to help this organization down the road and something that's going to fit for us, which is, right now, here. I know the talk's going to come. I've already been hearing it. So we can address it now. I doubt it. We're committed here. We've got an event in September. So I'll just leave it at that. I don't see it. I don't see it happening."

Wood signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal before the season and talked about how he wanted to finish his career as a Cub. This season he's appeared in 24 games,  going 1-3 with a 2.25 ERA, striking out 21 and walking 10 in 24 innings.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:00 am

Pepper: Don't buy me peanuts or Cracker Jack

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to talk sweeps week in Major League Baseball, as the Phillies, Yankees and Mets go for sweeps in interleague series today.

BASEBALL FOR EVERYONE: A friend of mine has spent a good 15 years of his professional career around his great love, baseball. He's hoped to share that love with his son, named for his favorite player, Nolan Ryan. The two watch games on TV, but haven't been able to experience the game live.

Nolan hasn't been able to sit in the stands and wish for a foul ball to come his way or walk out of the concourse and see the field, hear the crowd roar as Ichiro Suzuki rounds second on his way to third or hear the pop of a Felix Hernandez fastball.

You see, two years ago, like any other toddler, Nolan ate some peanut butter. Soon, he could't breathe and broke out into hives. His parents loaded him into the car and rushed to the hospital. At one point, his mother decide they couldn't wait any longer and called 911 and they pulled over to the side as an ambulance rushed to their aid, closing the I-5. The paramedics were able to get it under control and doctors told them Nolan wouldn't have lasted much longer.

Nolan was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. Since then, they've noticed symptoms in their son if there is even peanut dust in the air. Safeco Field or any stadium was like walking into a poison trap for Nolan. 

Well, that won't have to be the case -- as the Mariners are one of the teams hosting peanut-free games this season, an increasing trend according to this Reuters article. Peanut allergies have doubled over the last decade, and nobody is sure why.

Five times a season, the Tigers offer peanut-free suites at discount prices, the next is Sunday against the Giants and all 70 seats are sold, the Detroit News reports. That's a good sign and hopefully encourages more of this.

PHILLIES GOOD: OK, this is hardly breaking news, but the Phillies' rotation is really, really good -- and that's even without Roy Oswalt.

David Hale of the News-Journal does the math for us, the current five starters in the rotation -- Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick -- are a combined 12-3 with a 1.33 ERA in June with hitters managing just a .194 batting average against. WIth Halladay, Lee and Worley starting this month, the Phillies have gone 13-0.

BLAME BUD: While Bud Selig is 100 percent right to want Frank McCourt out as the Dodgers' owner, Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan writes that it's Selig's fault McCourt is in this position to begin with. Instead of finding the best owner for the team in 2004, Selig went with someone who would be on his side.

EXTENSION FOR HARDY: Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is on several team's trade wishlist, but he may not be going anywhere. The Orioles have reached out to Hardy's agent to talk about an extension. Hardy is a free agent after the season. [Baltimore Sun]

NO FIRE SALE: After the Cubs released Doug Davis, general manager Jim Hendry met with the media and assured them there would be no "fire sale." While nobody wants the bloated contracts of Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Zambrano, Hendry insinuated he wouldn't trade the likes of Carlos Marmol or Ryan Dempster. [Daily Herald]

NO FIRE SALE… YET: The Dodgers haven't started "substantive" trade talks yet, but could begin doing so after the break, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets.

ZIMMERMAN'S CHANGES: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has struggled after rebuilding his throwing mechanics during a season, including allowing the game-winning run with a throwing error on Wednesday. But Zimmerman is convinced he's doing the right thing and it'll pay off in the end. [Washington Post]

WOOD CLOSER: The Cubs could get reliever Kerry Wood back in time for this weekend's series with the White Sox, CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney tweets.

ROENICKE, GREINKE MEET: Brewers manager Ron Roenicke met with right-hander Zack Greinke to "clear the air" after Roenicke felt some of his postgame comments were misinterpreted by the media after Greinke's two-inning start against the Yankees. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

BUCHHOLZ OUT PAST BREAK: After throwing a bullpen Tuesday, Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz said he won't make his next start and could be out until after the All-Star break. Buchholz is dealing with a muscle strain in his back. [Boston Herald]

STRASBURG'S MECHANICS: Stephen Strasburg is back throwing off a mound, but his mechanics look the same, some observers say. Does he need a change? Sports Illustrated's Will Carroll says he doesn't know (and if Will doesn't know, I certainly don't), but it would be wise for the Nationals to look into some biomechanics analysis to make sure his mechanics weren't the reason for his arm injury.

SWISH BEING SWISH: Nick Swisher said his recent turnaround on the field has allowed him to be himself in the clubhouse. [Wall Street Journal]

ECKSTEIN NOT RETIRED: Former Angels (among other teams) shortstop David Eckstein says he's not retired, he's just choosing not to play. There are teams that would be interested in the game's leader of grit, but isn't sure if he wants to return. He sounds like he just needs to be wined and dined in the right way and he'd return. [Los Angeles Times]

NAME GAME: Just as Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle was responsible for Pete Rose's nickname, "Charlie Hustle," another Hall of Famer hung the moniker "Donnie Baseball" on Don Mattingly. Mattingly said Kirby Puckett gets credit for the nickname. [MLB.com]

NAME CHANGE: Remember the old XFL and Rod "He Hate Me" Smart? The CPBL -- the Chinese Professional Baseball League of Taiwan -- is apparently trying some sort of similar name-changing gimmick with its foreign players. One of those is former Royal Dan Reichert who is now Robert 38. [FanGraphs.com]

DODGERS DREAM TEAM: Steve Garvey has put together what he calls a "Dream Team" to buy the Dodgers, including another former Dodger, Orel Hershiser. [SportsRadioInterviews.com]

DIFFERENT DERBY: The Midwest League featured a different type of home run derby, which featured a hitting contest with more than 50 targets and prizes, including a dunk tank. Really, though, the biggest improvement over the big-league version is the absence of Chris Berman. [Benjamin Hill]

BUTCH'S TIRADE: Former big-leaguer Butch Hobson is now a manager in an Independent League, but his tirade from the other night is certainly worthy of the majors. Check him out has he does a combination of Lloyd McClendon and Terrell Owens. [h/t ItsAlwaysSunnyInDetroit.com]

MASCOT FAIL: Is that a sock or are you just happy to see me? Check out this independent league mascot in Amarillo, Texas. Yep. That's not good. [h/t Big League Stew]

BRING A PACKED LUNCH: I've always wanted to go see a game on one of the Wrigley Field rooftops, and I'd still like to -- I'm just not sure I would eat anything they have. Several rooftop businesses failed their health inspections recently. [Chicago Tribune]

CONGRATS CHONE: FanGraphs.com looks at the worst players in baseball based on 2010 and 2011 -- with Mariners infielder Chone Figgins edging Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for the title.

CIVIL WAR-STYLE GAME: If you're in Savannah, Ga., this weekend, you have plenty of entertainment and dining options, but how about checking out some baseball at a Civil War fort? Fort Pulaski will host a game Sunday featuring rules from 1860. [Connect Savannah]

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com