Filed: December 2, 2008
I guess now we can move on.
Arbitration passed last night at 11:00 PM, and with it, any hope of Kerry Wood remaining a Cub in 2009.
The club refused arbitration to all of their free agents, including Kerry, who now faces an extremely uncertain future given a sudden flood of available closers, and a worse-than-expected economic downturn.
I know, I know.
Some people will say that there is still negotiating room there, with the Cubs able to work a deal out on the cheap, once the market officially bottoms.
Don't buy it.
There's no nice way to say it, but Wood just isn't wanted. Everyone involved has been a bit tight-lipped to date; understandably so given that Wood likely saw arbitration as a last possible means of being retained.
However, now that that deadline has passed, I expect that some of the more aggressive Lou bashers in the media should either be able to extract an interesting tidbit or two, if not the full story altogether.
He just wasn't a Lou guy, and Lou told Hendry as such. Kerry seemed extremely amiable to staying; Hendry seemed way too fond of him; the Kevin Gregg trade seem so prepackaged and arranged; and declining arbitration—while potentially losing picks that a badly drained farm system could use—for me to think otherwise.
It all just speaks volumes.
One thing that has struck me about the Piniella tenure in Chicago is his desire to ride his favorite arms...hard. Maybe it's a carryover for all those Torres, Leylands, and Piniellas of baseball who came up in the '60s and early '70s, when situational relievers just didn't exist.
They've adapted some, but now they drop two or three of their guys in the pen, give them the ball when needed, and short of their arms' falling off, keep on doing it. You can't do that with Kerry.
Keeping Wood healthy is tricky.
You have to watch pitch counts and meter the days that you throw him back to back. You probably can never use him three straight days. Hell, you even have to watch how often—and for how long—you can have him warming up in a game. And a month with a blister?
I'm not saying it went down like this, but when I start thinking about moments at the park this season, I can start to get a picture of why those mysterious "factions" in the organization might want to move on.
Maybe we'll find that the Cubs, faced with an 8 million-plus allocation to Wood in 2009, just wanted to take the money and use it elsewhere. They are on a budget, after all. But this whole thing stinks, and frankly it has the stench of a classic Piniella vote of "no confidence."
But hey, if you want some good news, the Mariners have offered Raul Ibanez arbitration. The potential loss of a first-round pick should be enough to make the Cubs think twice about sticking him in right field.