NOTE: Article written Nov. 13, 2008.
It’s official. Hours after trading for Kevin Gregg, the Cubs have announced that they will cut ties with long time face of the franchise Kerry Wood.
The reasoning behind this seems to be that the Cubs are loaded at the back-end of the bullpen with Marmol, that wide-receiver from Notre Dame (commonly known as Jeff Samardzija), and now Kevin Gregg. That reasoning is flawed.
The reason that the Cubs bullpen has been so great the last two seasons is because of the flexibility of Carlos Marmol. Marmol has been able to come into the game in the seventh or eighth with two on and no out and succeeding in those situations.
I don’t have the numbers with me, but I know he only let a handful of inherited runners on base score. But now it seems the Cubs want to move Marmol in the closers role and in effect diminish his effectiveness and impact on a ballgame. Marmol was always the back-up plan if this went wrong in the late innings of a ballgame.
Who fills his roll now? Samardzija is young and inexperienced and Gregg has a tendency to walk batters and blew 11 saves last year. If these guys struggle in the set-up role then there will be no game to save for Marmol.
On top of all this is the Cubs overpaid to rent Kevin Gregg for one year. Jose Ceda was one of the best prospects in the Cubs farm system and to trade him away for likely mid-level reliever doesn’t make sense. Everything I’ve ever heard about Ceda painted the 21 year old as a potential star with ace stuff. Even if you were to trade Ceda, why not save him for a Brian Roberts or Jake Peavy deal which would address one of the Cubs needs?
This leads me back to Wood. The Cubs are staying away from Wood because of the money and the years that he would most likely ask for. But I would much rather the Cubs spend money on Wood then spend it on Ryan Dempster. Why not commit money to a proven commodity (Wood) instead of a player whose chance to flop is incredibly high?
The chances of Dempster coming close to a season like he had in ’08 are extremely low, yet Wood, when healthy, has dominant stuff that is perfect to close out a game. This trade just seems like a total loss for the Cubs and makes them weaker in the bullpen.
Maybe more people would realize that if the trade was worded like this: “Cubs acquire Kevin Gregg, lose Jose Ceda and Kerry Wood.” Hopefully the Cubs make better moves than this during the remainder of the offseason.