Kerry Wood Returns

18 12 2010

Posted by cubs223425

Recently, we have seen a few deals go down with the Cubs. Carlos Pena was brought in to fill the 1B void, as I had suggested from the get-go (hooray for occasionally correct predictions!). Rumors about a Chris Davis deal were out there, but it was not meant to be (I didn’t want to trade Chirinos for him right after getting Pena anyway). Carlos Zambrano was mentioned in trade speculations to the Yankees (PLEASE take him!). Mark Prior was–in the saddest news since his last injury–inked to a deal with the Yankees (I seriously let out a Darth Vader, “NOOOOOOOOOO,” when I saw that). Then there was the best news of all: Kerry Wood has returned to Chicago.

Woody's back!!!

Following a two-year hiatus in Cleveland and New York, Wood is back. His contract was a little bit quizzical, though. He only got $1.5 million with some incentives, which showed–like the Cliff Lee signing, but to a greater extent–that who he played for superseded what he played for (in terms of dollars, at least). Still, there have been some crazy contracts given to relievers in the last couple of offseasons (Brandon Lyon, anyone?), so that he could only manage a base salary of $1.5 million from the Cubs almost seems exploitative on the part of the team. Regardless, seeing him take the mound for the Cubs again will be awesome.

After a horrendous start to the 2010 season, Wood was (also sadly, seconded only by Mark Prior) sent to the Yankees. Despite that, Wood pitched like the man he was setting up–Mariano Rivera–by putting up a sparkling 0.69 ERA over26 innings, in which he allowed just one home run and struck out 31. That led to a horrifying spectacular 625 ERA+ (seriously, what?!). As a whole, the season was actually rather ho-hum, due to the fact that his Cleveland stint involved a 6.30 ERA. Over all of 2010, that ERA+ drops all the way to 133, and that 0.69 ERA inflates to 3.13, a tad higher than you would want to see from your setup man. And, of course, durability might be an issue.

Since saving 34 games in 66 1/3 innings for the Cubs in 2008, Wood has seen his inning drop to 55 in 2009 and 46 in 2010. Hopefully that is not a trend, because seeing Wood gleefully return to Chicago only to see him have the same injuries that plagued the start of his career would be an awful knife in the heart of a fan base that already had to deal with the passing of Ron Santo less than a month ago (R.I.P, Ronnie).

But I do not foresee that as the case. I am expecting a solid 50+ innings from Wood in 2011, which will probably involve 25-30 holds and a 2.85 ERA and a 10.5 K/9. Now I’m not one for predictions (I rarely make preseason WS picks, or even high-hoped divisional picks), but I feel pretty safe with that. The ERA might be on the low side, but as a setup man, rather than a closer, Wood will probably pitch to lefties less frequently, with Marshall picking up the lefty setup duties.

So, welcome back, Kerry. And, just a suggestion, if your annual charity bowling event happens, do Santo a solid and donate the money to diabetes research this year.

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