Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry said today that the team would not be able to meet the long-term contract demands of Kerry Wood, effectively ending his career with the Cubs.
I applaud Hendry for being upfront with Kerry and the media about this, instead of keeping teams under the impression that he would get a hometown discount. Hendry said today: "We felt it was time Kerry goes out and does what is best for him and his family and get a huge multi-year deal, if possible."
Even though this appears on the surface to make sense for both parties, I can't help but feel upset with this move. KWood is (was) the longest-tenured Cub, being with the big-league club since 1998.
This was the year he struck out 20 Astros and won Rookie of the year, helping lead the Cubs to a wild-card berth and carving himself into Cubs lore forever.
Kerry was a part of four different Cubs playoff rosters, easily the most in the last century. He personified this team, and nobody got bigger ovations when they finished a game, even if he did make it interesting from time to time.
Cubs fans never failed to chant "Ke-rry, Ke-rry, Ke-rry" whenever we needed a big out, especially in his bullpen days. It seemed he had finally found a role as closer, saving 34 of 40 opportunities this year.
I truly hope fans remember him as a starter prior to his injury as well. 2003 is a year that many of us want to forget, but Wood was brilliant that season, winning 14 games with a 3.20 ERA, helping carry the team into the postseason.
I will always remember the game on Aug. 5, 2007, and not because Tom Glavine won his 300th game as a visitor at Wrigley Field. I will remember this game because Kerry Wood made his first appearance of the 2007 out of the 'pen.
We gave him a standing ovation when he started to warm up, and I'm not sure I have ever heard Wrigley louder than when he jogged out to the mound. I just got chills writing that paragraph.
The Cubs' acquisition of Kevin Gregg will allow them to continue trade talks for Jake Peavy and potentially re-sign Ryan Dempster. But it also closes the door on one of the most beloved Cubs around.
If Kerry signs with another N.L. team, I know I will do everything I can to be at that game. He deserves one final standing ovation from the Wrigley faithful.