The Chicago Cubs off-season was filled with change. The change that occurred was a transition from the previous regime to a regime that is controlled by President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, General Manager Tim Tebow, and Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod. Along with that turnover, came a turnover among the Cubs’ roster. Epstein and company essentially closed the book on the Cubs’ teams of the past decade. No longer on the team are Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano, and Alfonso Soriano may not be too far behind them. But the departures of Zambrano and Ramirez were supposed to symbolize a change of culture. But that change of culture still has to take full affect. Reason being there is still one player that is the biggest indicator of all that was wrong with the Cubs in the past decade. That player is not Soriano. The player that I am talking about is Kerry Wood.
Wood entered the off-season knowing that he was going to hit the free agent market. Remember, prior to the 2011 season, Wood signed with the Cubs and received a promise from former General Manager Jim Hendry that the reliever will be a part of the Cubs’ organization for the rest of his playing and non-playing career. Wood even went as far as to say that if he wouldn’t be able to pitch for the Cubs in 2012 then the reliever would retire. Epstein seemed willing to test that theory. As Epstein went through his first off-season as Cubs’ president, there seemed to be sense that Wood was not a priority for the Cubs. After all, it was not until mid-January when Wood finally re-signed with the Cubs on a one year, $3 million contract. Though, that may not have been to Epstein’s doing. In the days leading up to the Cubs’ Convention, chairman Tom Ricketts needed a draw for Cubs’ fans. Which is why it should as no surprise that Wood’s contract was miraculously announced on the first night of the Cubs’ Convention.
Earlier that week it seemed that both the Cubs and Wood came to realization that reliever would no longer be a part of the organization. For the Cubs to have come to that realization, that would mean that Epstein would have agreed to move on from the Wood negotiations. While it is possible that Wood conceded to Epstein’s bluff, it seems more logical that Ricketts stepped in and brought back the reliever known to many as Kid K.
A rocket scientist is not needed to figure that Wood is not fit on a Cubs’ team that is geared towards building for the future. Wood is a veteran set-up man, whose true value is not fully achieved unless he is on a contending team. Needless to say if Wood was on a contending team this season, his performance so far this season would not have contributed to that team’s success. Wood is on the Cubs, and like most of the relievers in the Cubs’ bullpen, the veteran hasn’t been effective. Wood has given up 3 runs in his 2 1/3 innings pitched this season on 4 hits and 3 base on balls. While Wood has settled as of late, the reliever is currently not with the team.
While the Cubs were taking in the Miami Marlins’ new park, Wood was taking in a flight back to Chicago. After Wood’s appearance against the St Louis Cardinals on Friday night, the veteran reliever had some discomfort in his right shoulder. Wood received a cortisone shot in his right shoulder on Tuesday and the plan is for the reliever to return to the team on Friday. Nonetheless given Wood’s track record with injuries, it is safe to suggest that his will not be the last we hear of Wood’s right shoulder. Though, that may not be a bad thing. Wood is not a piece to the Cubs’ long-term puzzle, and his absence would given Rafael Dolis some experience as an eighth inning reliever. Dolis figures to be a set-up man in the Cubs’ bullpen at some point down the line.