Remembering Kerry Wood

In Sunday’s edition of the New York Times PLAY magazine, Buzz Bissinger (“Friday Night Lights" and "Three Nights In August”) profiles Kerry Wood and his famously injured right arm. There is not a lot of news here, particularly for anyone who has lived with this story the way Cub fans have—and the readers of TCR more than most Cub fans—but the piece is well done and, in case the 2007 season hasn’t already been heartbreaking enough, you’ll find plenty of memories here to be heartbroken about. Aside from interviewing Wood, Bissinger hooks up with Jim Riggelman, who sounds sorry for possibly having contributed to Wood’s health issues; Dusty Baker, who sounds completely defensive; and Mike McGilvray, Wood’s coach at Grand Prairie High School, who places 100% of the blame on the Cubs. (In fairness to Baker, I will point out that Wood holds Dusty blameless for his injuries and instead, blames himself for inviting injury with his own poor conditioning.) I think this paragraph sums up the article--and Wood’s Major League career--pretty well:
"Is there someone to blame for what happened to Kerry Wood? As in 'Murder on the Orient Express,' everybody took a turn with the dagger. A high-school kid never should have thrown 175 pitches in a single day. Jim Riggleman never should have let him exceed 120 pitches eight times as a rookie, or brought him back for that one game in the 2003 playoffs. Dusty Baker, who allowed Wood to exceed 100 pitches 24 times in 2003, should have taken greater note of his injury history. Wood should have kept himself in better shape and paid more attention to his mechanics. But whether we like it or not, professional athletes are meant to be sacrificed, not preserved. And the most fatal dagger-thrust of all has been fate’s. Wood threw the way he did because that was the way he had learned how to pitch. And he continued to throw that way because for a brief moment it made him the most exciting pitcher in baseball."
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I'm growing fond of Cubnut's late night Sunday columns. Good work.

i saw that video yesterday. i really feel for kerry wood. you can tell watching that video, and in everything he has done, that he cares deeply, that he wasn't just cashing a check. i'll never forget wearing my "we got wood" to his first game back after the first surgery. in his first at bat, he hits a home run, and wrigley field erupted. watching him pitch was always exciting. he will always remain in my pantheon of cub greats. i wish him the best, wherever he ends up. i hope it is with us later this year, but if not, and ends up elsewhere down the road, i'll cheer him on. good luck to you, kerry, you're a good man.

Wood is a class act, most cubs fans should be ashamed of themselves for questioning this guys heart. He works hard just to try to get back out there and entertain people. Yes he is getting paid millions but how many people who destroy their body just to play a game.

nice piece.

Kerry Wood==Near-Legend
Mark Prior==Pffft

The contrasts are so stark. Wood is a guy you can't help but like, Prior, does anyone really like him?

If only Woody could have got the job done in Game 7..... :-(

I wholeheardedly agree with that paragraph you posted, Cubnut. It was all of those factors mentioned that caused his injuries. Even if he wouldn't have pitched so much in '03, he would have still been a ticking time bomb.

I like Kerry a lot.

One of my favorite memories of Wrigley was the summer of '04, I think, Cubs. v. Dodgers. Kerry was pitching great but got himself into trouble--as he is prone to do--in the 8th inning by loading the bases. He ended up striking out the last batter to strand all the runners. Meanwhile, the whole crowd was chanting "Ker-ry, Ker-ry, Ker-ry."

The weather was perfect, I had great seats, and Kerry hit a HR that day.

Oh, man... I miss Chicago--and watching him pitch.

Here's the boxscore, if anyone is interested:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId...

Whenever I hear the Prior-Wood comparisons I think of this article from a while ago: http://www.rivalfish.com/rivalroom/2006/05/ma...

Perhaps my favorite part: "Sure, Wood has been a porcelain doll for a long time--certainly throughout his Big league career, and probably since that fateful day in 1995 when he got big, tough, and Texas as a senior in high school and threw both games of a State Championship clinching double-header. I heard he also hit six bombs that day and fucked three of the opposing players' Moms in the dugout between games, just to stay warm. This is my kind of guy, Prior, and he could never in anyone's wildest dreams be considered the tender vagina you are now considered."

Man, what a weekend...

I was up at the Cape for the weekend, all excited to sit on the beach and also being able to watch the Cubbies all three games (the cable system carried both WGN and TBS). But the excitement stopped there. Man, what embarrassing weekend to be a Cubs fan. First, Z and Barrett go at it twice. Then they play bad baseball both Friday and Saturday. Then Lou looks like a 2 year old throwing a fit on a play that the runner was out on Saturday. Then the fans embarrass Cubs Nation with throwing stuff onto the field.

People want to say last years team was a hard team to root for, well I can't see how this can be any better. With $300+ million spent supposedly upgrading the team in the offseason, they are currently in 4th place and and 8 games under .500 and for the most part playing uninspired, poor fundamental baseball. The team has played exactly 1/3 of its season and its only one game better than last years team record. Who would of thunk it? Not even I.

I don't really feel sorry for Wood, its only a matter of time until he comes back, starts throwing across his body again......and hurts himself.

Last week I annoyed some people on TCR by criticizing DeRosa's contract and arguing that he ought to share 2nd base with Fontenot and generally get out of Fontenot's and Patterson's way.

I think I might have been wrong about the contract (and I started thinking this before the grand slam--honest!).

First of all, he's getting 3/13, not 3/15 like I thought. The Cards signed Adam Kennedy for 3/10, so that gives some idea of the market for veteran 2nd basemen. DeRosa was a better hitter than Kennedy last year, although I wouldn't be surprised if the Cards took into account Kennedy's lefty swing.

Since second base is crowded and getting more crowded with the Cubs, I propose moving DeRosa to shortstop.

Pros:

1) He plays an excellent second and an excellent third; why not the position in between? He's a slick gloveman with a strong accurate arm. He's not the prototype shortstop--quick, low to the ground--but what he gives up in range he can make up with his bat. His main competition is Theriot, who is a bit range-challenged himself.

2) DeRosa has a hefty contract and is going to play somewhere. Put him where he isn't blocking anyone except Izturis, who is not signed for next year and may well be traded next month.

Con: Theriot will have to move to second, where there will be tougher competition than there has been so far from Izturis.

I'm a Theriot fan, but I don't see him as a sure winner head-to-head with Fontenot. Like DeRosa, Fontenot is an extra-base hit machine: 354/403/577, 16 doubles, 4 triples, 6 HR, 32 RBI. Theriot has nine EBH this year.

How many times this year have we had two men on, two out, and someone gets a hit--and now the bases are loaded? A hit in the gap would have knocked in two runs. That's what DeRosa and Fontenot will do a lot of.

Competition is good. Let Theriot and Fontenot argue about second base. It's a fair fight. DeRosa (with his contract) against any of the younger guys is not a fair fight.

In any event, DeRosa, Theriot and Fontenot are a better threesome than DeRosa, Theriot and Izzy.

VPhil: where's Eric fit in that plan, he ain't chopped chicken liver.

Kevin:
"Wood is a class act, most cubs fans should be ashamed of themselves for questioning this guys heart."

I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone on this site question Wood's heart. You may be confusing him with Mark Prior, whose heart pretty much everyone questions. I think to most Cub fans, Wood is viewed as kind of a John Wayne and Prior is viewed as a kind of John Waters.

Can someone with insider access summarize Rob Neyer's views on Z.

Thanks

I believe it's smart to give your minor-leaguers a chance when they've shown they're worth a chance.

The Dusty Baker School of Baseball Thought seemed to be: If a player's in the minors, he can't be as good as a guy in the majors. After all, that's why he's in the minors. It's better not to gamble on him; rather, go with "proven" major league players.

Managers from Joe McCarthy to Earl Weaver who were career minor leaguers know there's a lot of guys in the minors who are just as good as a lot of guys in the majors. All they need is a chance.

EPat's favorite KFC (if that's really your name):

Eric will probably keep hitting and the Cubs will be encouraged to trade Fontenot, maybe next winter. If Fontenot is allowed to knock the ball around at the ML level for a few months, he'll be worth something--and we'll have something in exchange for Sammy after all.

Robr - he says that he's clearly hurt either his shoulder or his elbow but that he, like most pitchers (especially those in contract years I would add), thinks he can grit it out. Struck out zero hitters for the first time in his career.

Managers from Joe McCarthy to Earl Weaver who were career minor leaguers know there’s a lot of guys in the minors who are just as good as a lot of guys in the majors. All they need is a chance.

!!!FREE FONTENOT!!!

Some tasty bits from the Trib, I'm sure it's old news by now:

The worst-case scenario applies as well to Michael Barrett, also eligible for free agency after this season. The Cubs have yet to begin talking about re-signing Barrett, considered a lower priority than Zambrano because he won't break the bank. The Cubs are not looking to trade Barrett, but if they did, they probably couldn't deal him without getting a starting catcher in return. His trade value is considerably less than Zambrano's, especially after his slow start offensively, and the developments of the last week.

...

Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who began serving what sources said would be a five-game suspension for his run-in with umpires the day before. Piniella's status is pending an appeal by telephone Monday to John McHale Jr., executive vice president of Major League Baseball. But rarely does MLB reduce a manager's penalty, especially after its discipline of Piniella included a fine for "aggressive and inappropriate actions," including making contact with umpire Mark Wegner "on multiple occasions." Piniella denied making contact with Wegner except to kick dirt onto his shoes. A subdued Piniella did not meet formally with reporters Sunday, though he did say he "wasn't expecting anything until the early part of the week."

...

The Cubs may not be shopping their emotional ace Carlos Zambrano, as general manager Jim Hendry reiterated on Sunday, but that won't stop general managers of selected high-revenue teams from letting Hendry know they're only a speed-dial away. "If the Cubs want to trade me, it's a business, what can I do?" Zambrano told reporters on Saturday. "I've got to go somewhere else and pitch my game and do my job. Plus, I don't have to see your faces anymore." Zambrano will have seven more starts before the All-Star break, at which point he'll probably have a good idea as to whether he'll be the prime attraction at the July 31 trading deadline. If the Cubs fall out of contention, he'll be the most talked-about name out there. Even if they do get back in, any unsigned free agent-to-be is bound to be discussed in trade talks.

5 games for Piniella? Christ... that's harsh.

"I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone on this site question Wood’s heart. "

It has happened here time to time. but those thoughts are quickly smacked down by the majority of the regulars here.

Here's the box score to the best game I ever saw (attended) Kerry Wood pitch:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/LAN/L...

A sad sad article. Makes you wanna root for him to make an amazing comeback but what does Woody really have left?

#19 CWTP Joe McCarthy was not a career minor leaguer. He played for the Yankees and Cardinals in 1904 and 1905.

btw... Sully's article:

Link

speaking of Sully's article....

Zambrano has compiled a 3.27 ERA with Blanco catching this season, and a 7.52 ERA with Barrett. But in previous years, Zambrano's ERA has not been markedly different whether Barrett or his backup was catching.

In 2004, Zambrano had a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings with Paul Bako behind the plate, and a 2.75 ERA in 196 2/3 innings with Barrett catching. In 2005, it was 3.25 in 83 innings with Blanco, and 3.27 in 140 1/3 innings with Barrett. Last season, it was 3.35 in 131 2/3 innings with Barrett, as opposed to 3.82 in 75 1/3 innings with Blanco.

A pitcher's earned-run average with a catcher is not always a true barometer of the catcher's performance handling him, but the comparable ERAs indicate Zambrano really hasn't suffered with Barrett behind the plate.

Perception, however, can sometimes trump reality.

Yeah, 5 games is harsh. But I think with all the ejections this past week (both player and manager), MLB might be getting a bit tired of it and trying to send a message. I personally think he deserves 3 games.

If the Cubs are 8 games or more under .500 by July, they need to see what the market is on Zambrano. I don't think they should necessarily trade him, but at least see what you can get. Everyday this guy proves he is a bigger head case. I used to think we should do anything to resign him, but I am not 100% on that bandwagon anymore. Giving this guy 5-6 years might be asking for too many problems.

#19 CWTP Joe McCarthy was not a career minor leaguer. He played for the Yankees and Cardinals in 1904 and 1905.

er, I didn't say that. I was quoting a post above that was trying to make the point that many minor leaguers who never make it to the majors are as good (or perhaps "bad" is closer to the truth) as those that do.

I now know why some of my posts are misunderstood.

FREE FONTENOT

If Jose Macias could have a career in the major leagues WHY NOT FONTENOT?

Chad,

Oh, that line-up made my eyes bleed. We couldn't even hit Park.

It's a good thing Wood brought his A-game that day.

I had forgotten that 2001 team was actually good -- 18 games over .500 on August 3. If memory serves, they led the division even into September before caving in.

The problem with Z is that he is so inconsistent and volatile, do you want to be on the hook to a pitcher like that for $15MM/year for 5 or 6 years? Seems awfully damn risky. If he was a steady performer like a Peavy or Santana, sure, but he's not.

For the "Oh-God-You-Got-to-Be-Kidding-Me" File:

Tigers OF Gary Sheffield ripped major league baseball for giving African-American players fewer opportunities than Latins, saying that Latins are easier to control.

Link

Rynox, I can't begin to tell you how funny that article is. When you read between the lines, Sheff is saying that black men have problems with authority and being to what to do. That is a belief held by most racists. Maybe Sheff is trying out for Grand Wizard of the KKK?

epat's been playing a lotta OF lately fwiw...he's being upended at 2nd by a better defender, but less of a projectable guy at 2nd, mr. fontenot.

you pretty much gotta keep fontenot's bat in the lineup, but epat's still supposedly pretty rough around the edges at 2nd, though not inept.

CWTP, I didn't catch on to Fontenot right away but numbers are numbers, and his are the third best in the organization at any level (above A+ at least).

Fontenot's 354/403/577 are third behind Lee's 361/424/557 and a mystery player's 364/442/607.

Pie's numbers at Iowa are in this ballpark but they drop when you factor in his 54 at bats with Chicago, which I think you have to do.

The mystery player is Josh Kroeger, who may become less of a mystery if he keeps it up for another month.

yeah, I remember the Cubs being high on Miguel Negron last year for about a month or two. See how that turned out?

Kroeger's thirtd team already and he's repeating AA after 3 separate stints in AAA. Nothing really to be excited about at this point....

Let's face it --- next years staff will look like:

1. Hill
2. Lilly
3. Marshall
4. Guzman
5. Marquis

With the money we won't spend on Wood, Prior, and Zam, ....we can spend on that Japanese Right Fielder from Fukimoto, a legitimate closer, and hopefully a catcher who can catch, throw and handle the pitching staff.

I see Guzman in the pen from here on out. As for the money for next year. Much of it will be sucked up in the big raises due to Aramis,Soriano,Marquis,Lilly as they have heavily backloaded deals. If the cubs hold the payroll line at 104 that they have this year. You are looking at anywhere from 5-15 million next year depending on the fate of Cesar Izturis and Jack Jones. Learn to like who we got. Because that will be what we got for the forseeable future.

Rob,

Negron, yes, I remember him. He was interesting because he was Wilken's only first-rounder who missed. He hit .400 for West Tenn for a few weeks last year and then fell back, and never did show any power--one HR in 265 at bats.

Kroeger turned on the power with 7 HRs in 11 days recently. First in the Southern League in average and slugging. He's making me forget Jake Fox for the moment because he gets a walk per strikeout, whereas Fox's walk to strikeout ratio is alarming. Also Kroeger bats lefty (slight detail), has some speed, and has always played right, which could make him interesting when Jones is traded.

A smart pickup by the Cubs at the very least. I don't know where Tennessee would be without his bat.

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