Monday, December 20, 2010
Just call this contract "For the love of the Cubs." Kerry Wood, aka Kid K, aka the man who had people walking around the North Side wearing shirts reading "We've Got Wood" for 10 years, is set to return to the team that drafted him fourth overall 15 years ago. But the contract isn't the two-year, $12 million he was reportedly seeking. And it's not for $3.5 million, which the White Sox offered him. And it's not a multi-year deal like the two-year, $10 million deal the Yankees offered him. Nope, Wood signed for one year, $1.5 million, just slightly more than the Mets will be paying back-up catcher Ronnie Paulino (that last stat courtesy of Ken Rosenthal).
And they said Cliff Lee left money on the table--Wood took $98.5 million less than him!
But seriously, it'll be great to have Wood back in the fold. He belongs in a Cubs uniform. He's a good clubhouse presence. On the mound, it's hard to know how good he'll be: in 23 games with the Indians in 2010, he had a 6.30 ERA; in 24 games with the Yankees, he had a stellar 0.69 ERA. Wood found himself on the DL twice last season, once with a back strain and once with a blister. But Wood, 33, clearly has the stuff to be a solid set-up man in front of Marmol, and it's basically impossible to disagree with the signing given that he'll be making about three times the league minimum.
Back to the clubhouse presence issue: I realize that championships aren't won in the clubhouse. The key ingredient for any successful team is good players, not good teammates. But there's still value in having a clubhouse full of guys who get along, pull for each other and are willing to take blame when things go wrong. Kerry Wood and Carlos Pena are the anti-Sammy Sosa, the anti-Milton Bradley in this regard, and it will be a nice change of pace.
The Wood signing is a feel good story. I personally didn't want any part of the two-year, $20 million deal he got when he left the Cubs after the 2008 season. So from a financial standpoint, I wasn't upset to see him go. But I was still sad that Wood would no longer be a Cub--it felt like the end of an era. Something feels right about having him back, and it's always nice to see a player take less money to be where he wants to be. It's even nicer to see a player refuse more money from the White Sox in order to play for the Cubs.
Kid K is no kid any more, but no kidding, I'm excited to have him back.