Filed:November 14th, 2008
Kerry Wood (Cubbie Nation/File)
Apparently it's going to be more painful than I thought.
A couple of days ago in writing this piece—which was originally strictly about MLB's Free Agent Frenzy—I'd predicted that the fourth year of a new contract was going to be a hell of a sticking point between the Cubs and Wood. Technically, the market will bear it, no sensible Cubs GM would ever offer it, and someone was going to have to break, lest Wood walk.
That's pretty much the score, with Cubs GM Jim Hendry announcing yesterday that Wood will not be returning to the ballclub in '09.
Hendry sums it up:
"Honestly, we feel for his own good, and for the good of him and his family, there is going to be a longer and more lucrative deal somewhere else than there would be here now. And it would be unfair to keep it dangling for another month or so and say, 'Let's see where the ownership situation is going, let's see what happens if we don't do this, we may do that.'"
In a countermove, the Cubs then sent AA pitcher Jose Ceda to the Florida Marlins for resident closer Kevin Gregg.
Gregg has found new life over the last few seasons in the NL, turning himself into a reasonably effective reliever, and a reasonable closing alternative in the event that Carlos Marmol, who appears to be the closer-in-waiting, comes up lame.
Now, regular readers of this blog know already that you'll have to look elsewhere for nostalgia, and talk about Kerry Wood somehow staying because he was a "good guy." It's no different than what was discussed in a recent TTITIT piece.
Walk away. Just walk away. I'm proud of the Cubs for two reasons this morning. That this is a sign of breaking away from a bad tradition of signing past-their-prime players to inflated deals, and watching them blow up, and that there is a capable farmhand in the organization ready to take a veteran's place.
Say what you will, but Hendry moved flawlessly in my opinion, snagging a solid closer candidate for minimal cost, and one year term. This still leaves him with money to pursue Ryan Dempster, and perhaps find a decent right field bat.
I like Jose Ceda, but there are so many problems with him that I don't know where to begin. Not the least of which is it was likely that he'd make only a minimal contribution to the 09' ball club, if at all.
This is a Lou Piniella team, after all. I'd always had looked for Ceda to be a fixture, just starting in 2010. There was a reason he'd been dangled as trade bait the last few months.
So, to Kerry I say thanks for the memories, and I hope you get your coin.
To Jim Hendry, thanks for finally acting like a real talent evaluator. Kevin Gregg, welcome to Chicago. You're the next Bob Howry, so don't become the next Bob Howry. And Ceda...well, I don't think you'll have the career that will justify so many being breathless about you leaving, but you'll have the chance to prove me wrong as soon as next season. But that's the point, isn't it? That veterans move on, and in baseball, youth ultimately is always served.
Free Agent Frenzy
And with that, below are my picks for the 2008 Free Agent Frenzy contest. These were made two days ago, and I'm going to leave Kerry Wood as entered originally. See, I'm a little sentimental.
1) Bobby Abreu – Mets (13) – A major impact bat, and still a strong base-stealing threat. I’d love to see him in Chicago, but there are potentially two suitors in his preferred location of New York, and I think he’ll take a discount to play LF with the Mets rather than move.
2) Milton Bradley – Mariners (1) – M's need offense, and he’s productive, without the long-term commitment. It’s a good bridge choice.
3) A. J. Burnett – Orioles (9) – Once they realize that the big guys actually want to play for a contender, I expect them to start focusing on A.J. At potentially a 4/60, he’ll be the anchor that the Orioles need.
4) Pat Burrell – Giants (3) – Should follow his heart, but I suspect he’ll follow the cash. He ends up with the Giants, and they’ll at least be back to respectable next season.
5) Ryan Dempster – Mets (4) – At 5/75, he won’t be in Chicago, for certain. New York will pay, and regret it more than the deal they gave Pedro.
6) Adam Dunn – Nationals (14) — Honestly, stick him in left until you can trade Nick Johnson, and bake.
7) Rafael Furcal – Dodgers (2) — My sense it that no one will commit to the years that he’d like. If the rumors of 2/30 offer from the Dodgers is true, what’s the point of leaving LA then?
8) Derek Lowe – Cubs (6) — He’ll get 40-45 million offer that Dempster should be getting, and probably perform just as well at Wrigley.
9) Oliver Perez – Brewers (5) — CC staying? I’m not buying it. Oliver is a good, affordable plan B.
10) Manny Ramirez – Yankees (12) — Hank Steinbrenner won’t be able to resist the marquee name. Stick him at DH, and watch the money roll in from Red Sox/Yankees taken up a notch.
11) Francisco Rodriguez – Angels (8) — I think this is the year that reality sets in on relievers. 12 million for 60 innings of work? Not in the midst of this crisis.
12) CC Sabathia – Angels (11) — Loves California, and the Angels should be able to make a 120 million-plus offer without batting an eye. What’s to talk about?
13) Ben Sheets – Dodgers (7) — Should know better after Jason Schimdt, but I don’t think they do.
14) Mark Teixeira – Yankees (10) — Won’t be able to say no to pinstripes. Manny and Teix. God help AL East pitchers next year.
15) Kerry Wood – Cubs (15) — The Cubs will be fair, and a deal will get done. They’ll fight like hell over a fourth year for awhile though.
**Alternate choice - Rangers
Bonus: Orlando Hudson – White Sox