Spiegel: Kid K, Take 2, At 33

By Matt Spiegel, The Danny Mac Show–

Maybe you’ve heard talk of, or even share, my standard reaction to Cubs maneuvers these days. The shrug. No matter the player acquired, I just can’t seem to divorce myself from broader feelings about the roster, and the man left in charge of the baseball decisions. Carlos Pena at 5 mil, with 5 mil deferred? Solid move. But where’s this club going next season? Does Pena really change where I perceive the Cubs’ place among the good teams in the NL might be? No. Does it change my beliefs about the fact that the Ricketts family should have moved past Jim Hendry and clean slated the front office? No.

But the shrug doesn’t happen with the same vigor today. The Kerry Wood re-acquisition, from all angles, is an in-arguably great move.

Wood might have been the #1 set-up man available in a deep and compelling market this year (though I like Scott Downs), and he could easily have gotten 8-10 million more from the Yankees or White Sox. Downs signed for 3 years and 15, Joaquin Benoit for 3 at 16.5, J.J. Putz for 2 at 10. Wood’s money (1.5 mil) is infinitesimal, and at one year, all the Cubs’ flexibility next off-season remains, when 40 million dollars comes off the books in the persons of just 3 men. Let the Albert Pujols dreams persist if you like.

I know it’s awkward to think about selling tickets with a 7th or 8th inning guy who will make 50 appearances or so, but that impact will not be negligible. He remains popular, rightfully, and this adopted hometown discount will only make him more so. What t-shirt or jersey does the signing make you consider fishing out of the back of the closet? “We Got Wood” tops will be worn again, perhaps sheepishly by the 30-somethings who should have outgrown it. I’m going to resist pulling out the “2003 NL Champs” t-shirt I bought as a keepsake from a vendor on Sheffield the night Kerry blew the lead in game 7 of the NLCS, out of respect.

If this move was made in part to convert pessimistic, discerning, frustrated fans, so be it. It makes baseball sense…good baseball sense, in every way. Andrew Cashner gets a much discussed shot in the rotation, after mediocrity in the pen last year. With Wood, Sean Marshall, and Carlos Marmol, the 7th inning leads, as infrequent as they might be, will most often be held and closed. And the money, my god, did Hendry work magic with this contract.

Don’t be dissuaded of acknowledging that this one feels good, in fears of being labeled as overly romantic or sentimental. Kerry Wood may be sold to all of us as the new Mr. Cub, but there’s not really anything wrong with that.

More from Matt Spiegel
  • Jon, Montgomery

    hey matt, why are you posting something at this time tonight? didn’t you get invited to the score holiday party? :)

    kerry wood was revived when he went to a contender last year on the yankees, and as a sox fan, i would’ve really loved to have added him to our bullpen, but to me, it seems like kerry may have made a choice with his heart rather than his head in this decision.

    the sox, (arguably now the best team in their division), are a contender, and they offered wood 2 years.

    the cubs, (not a contender, at least from my POV), will probably finish 3rd at best in the NL central next year.

    why would kerry turn down more years and money to go back to the northside? just to be loved again? i don’t believe sentimental reasons should factor in a decision of whether you’re going to be on a contending team, if you have a choice, which kerry did, going to the yankees or white sox puts him in a great situation, contending team, more money, secure contract with multiple years, but he decides to go back to the cubs, where he’ll pitch more, but on a team that probably will not get above .500 next season, i just don’t get it. but i respect wood’s decision.

    hopefully kenny can get another bullpen guy for us, which i’m sure he will, the best GM in baseball will fill the positions we need.

    but the cubs aren’t going anywhere, kerry wood is still a good reliever, but the additions they’ve made this off-season don’t make them a contender for the division IMO, these are just moves to try and put butts in the seats. the cubs will be re-building for the next couple years.

  • Joe Mayo

    I agree 100%. With Larry gone K. Wood maybe can teach some of these young guns. Also the One year $1.5MM….TRADABLE!! So is Pena. It makes your bullpen stronger. I also think mariano rivera showed Wood some things so i’m down with this….DIG THAT HOME BOY

  • joe

    I agree spiegs…its not so much that its kerry wood coming back, but the fact that late leads will be in safer hands than caridad, berg, grabow, and russell going into last season. there were too many late inning collaspes in close games early last year that kept them from competing later in the year. granted, i dont think even with those early wins they would have been in contention later, but they probably could have gotten over the .500 mark at least once

  • Jon, Montgomery

    spiegs, i know you had a problem with some D-Bag who impersonated you, but don’t be afraid to post more stuff on the site, i really enjoy reading your stuff.

    i think it would be great to have a little competition come into this website, and what i mean is, alot of us like bernstein’s blog, but your thoughts about sports and writing is very good, so what i think we’d all love to see is you start having a daily blog.

    just a suggestion, but we all love ya spiegs. hope you keep writing on the site :)

  • Cubs Fan Tom

    woohoo! great move by the cubs! kerry is still a good bullpen guy and i’m SO happy that the cubs have brought back old woody :D

    by the way, i agree with jon, we all enjoy your thoughts and opinions spiegs, please start having a daily blog! don’t worry about bernstein’s blog, nobody likes his anyway!

  • Jake (cubs fan)

    LOL at the “we got wood” t-shirt, i still have mine!

    nice piece spiegs, really well done. and i agree with tom and jon, do your own daily blog dude! we would all love a change of pace from bernstein’s boring blog, you have really great opinions on hot topics, and i think all of us would support a blog if you had your own spiegs, so if you have the time each day, i suggest you have a daily blog.


  • fysh

    Will the Cubs bring back anymore of their old roiders? Did anyone see him as a Yank. He looked myself in high school.Wood represents the whole “Cub” mentality that needs to die off with Bear weather…He’ll still get his 2-3 Dl trips but won’t find a microphone he won’t jump in front of..same old Cubs

  • Leon Alton

    Matt doesn’t have time for a daily blog. that would be great if he did, but alas, we’re probably stuck with bernsy as far as a daily blog.

    I do like your piece here Matt, and I do believe that the phillies rotation is the best I’ve ever seen.

    but you should write more spiegs!

  • Wonnie Roo Roo

    I have a Kerry Wood t-shirt from 2003. It says: GOT CRUSHED?

  • Realistic

    It just shows how much people can’t stand the White Sox. Willing to play for a non contender for less money. I love it. People think Ozzie is this amazing manager because he took the White Sox to the World Series. At best Ozzie is a sound bite. Sorry White Sox fans even with the acquisitions you have made I see little hope for the playoffs. And no I am not a Cubs fan, just realistic

    • Jon, Montgomery

      sorry, but the white sox have a ton of hopes for the playoffs, they’re going to be my pick to win the AL central.

      but i do agree about ozzie, i don’t want him as our manager, and i’m a white sox fan.

  • wonnie Roo Roo

    Realistic, the ONLY thing “realistic” about that last sentence is that it really shows what a jealous and envious Cubs fan you are. The last I heard was that Wood ALSO turned down a more lucrative” offer from the Yankees, as in 27 Championships…oh, sorry to speak a foreign language to you….Anyway, I think that totally blows your Sox Theory right out of the water! Kinda like the 2003 Cubs with five outs to go!

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