Smile Politely

Wood Likely Says Goodbye to Cubbies

It appears Woody will don another uniform next year. The Cubs front office decided that giving a three to four year deal to the often electric, but always inconsistent closer wasn’t the best way to use their holiday money. The fact is, this is a good baseball decision. Woody was a solid closer and ninth-inning men are hard to come by, but with the acquisition of Kevin Gregg from the Marlins, the back-end of the Cubs bullpen is not the area the Cubs need to focus on this off-season.

More on Gregg later, but I want to close this section talking about the immense amount of respect I have for Kerry Wood. I will never forget the way he emerged on the scene as a twenty-year old phenom and struck out twenty Houston Astros on a gloomy May afternoon in 1998. I still remember watching the last couple innings in my dreary college living room. After a dazzling rookie season, the next five were filled with high expectations and even higher medical bills. Fast forward to 2003, where he paired with the other great young hope, Mark Prior, to take the Cubs to within five outs of the World Series. The guy even hit a two-run home run in Game Seven — does anyone remember that?

Finally, after years of trying to start ballgames and further wear and tear on the big Texan’s right elbow and shoulder, Woody took low-money, one-year contracts in back-to-back years to re-invent himself as a quality closer in a city with almost unbearable expectations. I love the guy. Here’s to you Woody. You’re one of my favorite Cubs of all time. A class act. Go out and get that three or four year deal, you deserve it. I just hope he signs with an AL team.

Now … wipe your tears … it’s time for some Hot Stove!

We all watched the playoffs. In a short series, the current Cubs roster is not properly equipped to succeed and the higher-ups like Hendry are aware of this. As I mentioned above, spending big cash on long term deals in the bullpen has often proven to be a mistake. Too many injuries. Better to anchor with one or two solid young arms and maybe one vet. Marmol will close now with Kevin Gregg (who held opposing batters to a .203 clip last season) as a capable set-up man. We’ll have Gaudin and Cotts back as well. And don’t forget Samardzija.

1. First order of business should be reeling in a real leadoff man. One who can play CF would be ideal. I love Chone Figgins and there are other options. Get it done Hendry.

2. We need a new left fielder, one option would be to platoon Reed Johnson (I’m a huge fan) and (glove-only) Fukudome in center and get vet Raul Ibanez for LF. That’s not bad. I wish Reed could play every day. He certainly can hold his own defensively and he murders left-handed pitching (.333), but he hit 53 points lower against righties and I’m not sure that’s good enough for a fella with little power.

3. Finally, we must keep the rotation strong. With Zambrano, Harden, Lilly and Marshall returning we either have to keep Dempster (doesn’t seem likely now) or replace him with someone as good or better. Jake Peavy would be just fine thank you, but don’t let me read about a Paul Byrd signing.

I’ll check back in after the Winter Meetings (Dec 8–11, Las Vegas), but let me leave you with the best thing I’ve seen on YouTube since Dave Chappelle opining about Sesame Street.

The Nintendo RBI Baseball, Bunt-Homerun:

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