Kerry Wood

UPDATE: The Miami Herald says it's for 4-star prospect Jose Ceda. Shiite. Too much, way, way too much. And since Ceda was one of the possible names going to San Diego for Jake Peavy, you have to think that ship is about to sail.

Double check my work if you wish, but I believe Gregg is set to be a free agent after 2009 and is arbitration eligible for this year. He made $2.5M last year.


 

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Cubs have acquired Marlins relief pitcher Kevin Gregg. The 30-year old pitcher was the Marlins closer for the better part of two seasons racking up 61 saves and ERA's of 3.54 and 3.41 respectively. He strikes out nearly a batter per inning but walks a few too many guys for my tastes. I'm sure the first reaction will be that Kerry Wood is definitely a goner, but my guess is that it's just a possible back-up plan as Gregg could certainly slide into a set-up role. Even if Wood goes, I'd rather see Carlos Marmol in the closer role.

Of course, whenever a Cubs trade goes down, the first question is who do the Cubs get and the second question is what did they give up? Rosenthal don't have the answer on the second part yet, but I'll update as soon as someone finds out.

Baseball's fourth season is about to warm up and I'll try and summarize all the gossip every couple of days.

- Ken Rosenthal says that Ryan Dempster won't sign with the Cubs before the Cubs exclusive negotiating window closes on November 13th. A rather wise move by him and his agent. There's no reason not to test the waters and see what is actually available for him as rival teams cannot discuss money over the next two weeks. He still may very well sign with the Cubs on a hometown discount, but that discount will be based on what the prevailing market is offering. Rosenthal speculates a four year deal for Dempster with the Cubs interested in three years. Rosenthal also speculates that if the Cubs cannot resign Dempster, they'll up their efforts on Jake Peavy, which sounds like a grand plan to me.

One of our reliable readers listening to Bruce Levine of ESPN1000 out of Chicago, is hearing that Kerry Wood will be activated before the game and Scott Eyre will be designated for assignment. The Cubs will have 10 days to release or trade Eyre and will likely get nothing more than a low-minors prospect.

We'll see if Wood jumps right back into the closer role or is eased into it after a few appearances. I think after such a long layoff and pretty good odds that his control won't be there, that it might be best for Lou to give him a few low-pressure situations and let resurgent Carlos Marmol keep closing.

 Speaking of Marmol, whatever was ailing from about the middle of June to before the All-Star Break seems to have cured itself. There certainly wasn't a shortage of theories on why he struggled, ranging from overuse to the struggles of a young player, it seemed the most obvious answer was just a "dead arm" period. Marmol's slider still had its snap, most of the time, but he started hanging it every once in awhile while getting away from locating his fastball that didn't seem to get above 92 mph. There were never any whispers of an arm injury and Lou certainly didn't let up on the gas during any of it, choosing to go the "just pitch through it" route. But since the All-Star break, he's thrown up a goose egg; 9 IP, 15 K's and 0 ER, although a bit wild with 7 BB's. He was hitting the mid 90's in the last two appearances that I've witnessed.

So welcome back Zeus and Kerry, you were both missed. And goodbye Scott Eyre, I shall never forgive you for contributing to Derrek Lee's broken wrist in 2006.

Milwaukee acquired second baseman Ray Durham from the Giants on Sunday in exchange for Class A outfielder Darren Ford and Triple-A pitcher Steve Hammond. The two teams waited to officially announce the deal until after they had played one another Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park, per the request of Durham, who didn't want to make his Milwaukee debut versus his former mates.

"Personally it was out of respect for the guys in this locker room,"
Durham said, saying his goodbyes in the Giants' clubhouse. "It really
was a stipulation I asked for."

The 36-year-old Durham, hitting .293 AVG / .385 OBP / .414 SLG / 799 OPS could complement and/or replace 25-year-old Rickie Weeks, who is hitting just .218 in 79 games for the Brewers this season with an OPS+ of 82.

Closer to home, Paul Sullivan makes it sound like the Cubs are inching closer to putting Kerry Wood on the DL for the 12th time in his career, owing to ongoing problems with that blister on his right index finger. Sullivan quotes Lou Piniella as saying:

"We're coming to the point where we're going to have to come to a conclusion about what to do."

If the Cubs were to backdate the DL decision to July 12th, Wood would be eligible to get back on the field next Sunday, when the Cubs wrap up their four-game series against the Marlins at Wrigley Field. According to Sullivan, Carlos Marmol will get to wear the closer's hat so long as Wood is unable to pitch. Marmol pitched a perfect ninth to close out the Cubs' 9-0 shutout of Houston on Sunday.

 


Above all, there was the bullpen. If you didn't outscore the Reds in the first six innings, forget about winning. Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers constituted the deadliest combination of 95-mph (or better) fastballs, swaggering attitude and occasional mullets in the game. So much so that the trio earned a nickname derived from a pre-wardrobe malfunction Janet Jackson: the Nasty Boys.

— Jonah Keri, espn.com

When Lou Piniella's Reds swept the heavily favored Oakland Athletics right out of the 1990 World Series, his trio of fireballing young relievers led the charge. After combining for 44 saves and a 2.14 ERA over a total 235.1 relief IP during the regular season, the threesome made an indelible mark in Fall Classic history by throwing 8 2/3 innings and allowing the mighty A's no earned runs on just six hits. Dibble won Game 2; Myers earned a save in the clinching Game 4.

(The Boys were no slouches in the NLCS either. Myers, the series MVP, saved three of the four Cincy victories over the Pirates, Charlton had a win, and the Nasty Boys struck out 20 and allowed just six hits and one earned run in 15 2/3 IP.)

Watching Piniella's current club at work and appreciating how his bullpen, particularly young set-up man Carlos Marmol, has contributed to the team's early season success, I thought it would be interesting to see how the three stalwarts in Piniella's Cub bullpen compare to the Nasty Boys of 18 summers ago.

The Cubs followed Saturday night's disappointing loss with one of the agonizing variety on Sunday afternoon. The blown saves by Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol also lowered the Cubs' save conversion rate to 14 saves in 22 opportunities, or an unimpressive 64%. (Marmol's "failure," of course, was due primarily to Alfonso Soriano's work in left field, not a failing of the pitcher's.)

Before Sunday's disaster, here is how the Cubs and their designated closer stacked up to the rest of the National League and the respective teams' individual saves leaders, several of whom have already lost their "closer" tags because of ineffectiveness or injury.

Something to distract from tonight's unpleasantness in Cincinnati:

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Doug Melvin has no plans to unseat Eric Gagne as Brewers closer. A quick comparison:

G IP
H
K
BB
ERA S
BS
Kerry Wood 14 15 10 13 3 4.80 4 3
Eric Gagne 16 14.2 15 17 10 6.14 9 5


Gagne also has a WHIP of 1.7 and opponents are hitting .382 against him. Wood's numbers are 0.87, .189.

And the Brewers don't have Carlos Marmol as a Plan B.

Gordon Wittenmyer reporting in the Sun-Times that back spasms will keep Kerry Wood from making his scheduled pitching appearance today.

Manager Lou Piniella downplayed the significance of the injury, but
Wood was examined by team doctors today to determine the severity of
the injury...

Piniella stressed there's nothing wrong with his arm and he's not
concerned about this being an issue with Wood's ability to close.

‘‘If we had to be concerned about everything to be concerned about,
we'd never sleep around here,'' he said. ‘‘This is just a stiff back
and nothing more, and it could happen to anybody.''

Downplaying the significance of the injury--I wonder if the Cubs now list that as a required job skill when hiring new personnel.

More info as it becomes available and we're able to share.

 

Tags: 

The Cubs are a little over two weeks into spring training with about three weeks before Opening Day. It's time to check in on the yearly ritual of spring training battles. What's the fun of spring training without a little competition? The Cubs have a few spots up for grabs and today I take a look at the competition for the fabled closer role between Bob Howry, Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood. It's the final piece in the series and I know you will all miss my Wrestlemania-inspired graphic.

The closer battle is probably the least crucial of the spring training battles this year, for two reasons. First, the closer role is generally overrated. The closer protects more three-run leads with nobody on than he does one-run leads with the go-ahead run coming up. Set-up men are often asked to wiggle out of more difficult jams than closers, who are usually brought in just to start the ninth inning with a clean slate. Second, all three candidates can do the job just fine, so Lou really can't lose on this one. Sure, you'd like to pick the best, but those outs in the seventh and eighth are just as crucial; and the two "losers" will slide into the set-up men roles. Plus, if the winner out of spring training can't hack it, the Cubs have two ready-made options ready to fill-in, possibly three if Ryan Dempster isn't cutting it as a a starter. As they say in the old country, it's a good problem to have.

Let's take a closer look after the jump....

An incomplete list, in no particular order...

Bad Weekend

Jason Marquis. Though Lou Piniella apologized for "overreacting" to Marquis' comments following Saturday's game, the pitcher's "I have a family to worry about" statement made him look stupid and foolish and...like a modern-day Major Leaguer.

Alfonso Soriano. Broke the tip of this right middle finger on Sunday during a drill meant to hone his ability to catch balls up against the outfield wall. Expected to miss game action for the next five days.

Neal Cotts. Pitched two-thirds of an inning on Sunday and now has a 27.00 ERA. 'nuf said.

Geo Soto's waistline. I hope AZ Phil can confirm or refute this, but it appeared to me from Sunday's telecast that Soto has regained a lot of the weight he lost last year, when he had his big season in the Pacific Coast League and was so impressive in his limited debut with the big club.

Kerry Wood. Tagged for a longball by the Angels' Torii Hunger, plus two singles and a double in one-third of an inning on Saturday.

Good Weekend:

Matt Murton. Went 3-for-3 in Saturday's loss to the Angels.

Felix Pie. Knocked his second Cactus League home run on Sunday; hitting .273 in the early going.

Carrie Muskat groupies. Carrie got some air time during Sunday's telecast and revealed that she had business cards printed up in Japanese to help her establish rapport with Kosuke Fukudome. I'm wondering how many cards she had printed up and how many she'll have to give Fukudome before he finally replies, through his interpreter, "What am I supposed to do with all of these cards?"

Sam Zell. As this NYT profile makes clear, Sam has little chance of being the game's most odious owner as long as Hank Steinbrenner is around.

 

Because this season terminates here? Well, the last few days might suggest as much, because you don't need me to tell you that 4-6 against the Giants, Diamondbacks and Phillies just doesn't cut it. Then again, there's still some reason for hope: today the Cubs activated Nomar Garciaparra, Kerry Wood and Scott Williamson from the disabled list, disabled Jerry Hairston, demoted Sergio Mitre to Triple-A Iowa, and designated Mike Remlinger for assignment. Is it enough to save this team? Not in my opinion.

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