Okay Tribe fans, on Saturday Cleveland Indians owner Larry Dolan and GM Mark Shapiro made the announcement that they were going to purchase you a very expensive Christmas present. The Indians finally made it official Saturday that they have signed free agent closer Kerry Wood to a two year $20.5 million dollar contract with an option for a third year.
The only thing that they DO NOT want is to hear you complain that they will not spend money to bring in a free agent player anymore! No be thankful that they love you enough to want to be you something nice, big, and expensive. Or maybe they just realized that if they were going to build a successful bullpen, they were going to have to have someone a little more capable of handling the closer's role then what they already have.
Whatever the case, two things were certain for Shapiro and company at the winter meetings:
1. With the options available at the closer position there was no way that they could afford to just talk to players and just leave the bargaining table thinking they had better options within the organization or that they could afford to bring in a second tier type of player to fill the position.
2. If they were going to be serious about being proactive in their pursuit of guys like K- Rod, Kerry Wood, Brian Fuentes, or make a trade for a guy like a J.J. Putz, or Gorge Sherril. They would have to stay on them, and either be willing to open the pocket books, or be willing to give up some of their future.
So with that in mind the Tribe exec's set out in pursuit of making this team better and came up huge, landing Kerry Wood.
For all the criticism of Wood, or even the thought of the Indians paying as much as they are going to this is actually something that should be beneficial for both sides. Yes his 5-4 record and having a 3.26 ERA is something to be very concerned about. Yes that he has been on the DL 12 times over the past 10 seasons is down right alarming.
However here are some other stats that could sell you on this idea: When the Cubs moved Wood to the bullpen in 2007 he his record was 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 22 appearances. That seemed to impress the Cubs so much so that last year his was thier choice over former Indian Bob Howry, and the Cubs young sensation Carlos Marmmol last season, when he had 34 saves in 65 appearances. He also recorded 84 strike outs and walked 18 batters in 66 1/3 innings, and was named to the National League All-Star team.
This is a good situation for both Wood and the Indians because unlike his days when he was a starter he will not have to go out and pitch all the time. While they are paying him a lot of money to be able to protect leads they can still be able to turn to Jensen Lewis who proved at the end of the season he can be a potential closer with 13 saves, Carlos Perez, or Rafael Bentencourt should their come a time when Wood needs rest.
It's good for the Tribe because it is said that Wood is a great clubhouse guy and can be a good leader for the younger players, something that also scores points with Mark Shapiro.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Indians needed a closer and they were not going to go after K-Rod. It was simply not going to happen. Once K-Rod went off the market most teams where probably go to focus their attention mostly on Wood, although Fuentes would have also been an attractive name.
J.J. Putz is attractive and while Seattle may have been willing to part with him, the price may not have been worth the future we would have had to mortgage, Baltimore may have been willing to give up George Shierril but the thought of him coming here for good prospects made me cringe more then Wood because Sherril seems to be somewhat of a blown save artist.
This was the best way for the Tribe to go, they were able to get what they wanted and need and a change of scenery could be the perfect for Wood because he does not have a young kid breathing down his back.
Let's hope for a healthy Kerry Wood. This could be very exciting!!!