Posts Tagged ‘Kerry Wood’

Cubs “Set” With Marmol As Their Closer…Really?

December 8, 2009

According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, via Twitter, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella said that Cubs are “set” with Carlos Marmol as their closer and are “very happy with him.”

Really?

I hope this is like when a college coach at a small school says he is staying at the school, but then the next day leaves for a better job. The coach says he is staying at the small school because it is the “right thing to do.”

The right thing to do for the Cubs is to say they are happy with Marmol as their closer and then go out and get someone who is better suited for that role. Marmol belongs as the eighth inning set-up guy.

Marmol should be pitching the 8th not the 9th

If there is one thing I have learned about the Jim Hendry era in Chicago, it’s that mental makeup is not a factor in deciding whether or not that person would be a good fit in a particular role.

I wrote about Marmol as a closer last year during the World Baseball Classic. In my opinion, he does not have the mental makeup to handle the closer duties in Chicago.

I thought he reminded me of Armando Benitez then and that thought hasn’t changed now. Benitez threw hard and could strike people out like Marmol.

However, I wouldn’t trust Benitez in a big spot to save my life and I wouldn’t trust Marmol in the ninth inning either. It’s never a good sign when your closer, who is supposed to be calm under pressure starts screaming at himself on the mound and acts like he just drank eight Red Bulls before he got to the mound.

The Cubs would be better served with Marmol as their eighth inning set-up guy and going after a Heath Bell or reacquiring a Kerry Wood to be their closer.

I hope Piniella was doing the “right thing” when he said his team was “set” with Marmol as the closer. If not, the ninth inning is going to be an adventure with Marmol closing the ninth.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Kerry Wood: What’s His Trade Market?

November 16, 2009

Yesterday, the MLB Network replayed Kerry Wood’s 20-strike out game against the Houston Astros in 1998. I have been watching baseball for almost 25 years and in my opinion, that was most dominating regular season performance I have ever seen.

The Astros didn’t have a chance that day.

Flash forward 11 years later and Wood is still throwing 97 mph in the major leagues. Did he become the pitcher everyone thought he would be after watching him pitch in 1998? No he didn’t.

Kerry Wood

Wood is a trade candidate this winter

But Wood has made a very nice career for himself. Because of injuries, Wood moved into a relief role in 2007 with the Chicago Cubs and became their closer in 2008.

Wood excelled as the closer in Chicago and in the winter of 2008, he signed a two-year, $20.5 million deal with the Cleveland Indians to be their closer.

The Indians signed Wood expecting to compete in 2009. Things really didn’t work out that way and now the Indians are in rebuilding mode yet again.

When a team is rebuilding, they really don’t have any use for a 32-year-old closer who will be making $10.5 million in 2010. We should be hearing Wood’s name in trade rumors this winter.

Let’s look at what a team would be getting with Wood. Here are the pros and cons of trading for Wood and the teams who might be interested in trading for the former Grand Prairie High School star.

Pros

Can you believe Wood is only 32-years-old? It seems like he has been around for 20 years. Even at 32 (not that old mom!!!), Wood can still throw 97 mph.

He can still blow the fastball by hitters when he needs to. Wood still struck out 10.3 hitters per nine innings last year.

Despite getting off to a rough start in April and May (6.08 ERA), Wood had a stellar second half of the year. In the second half, Wood was eight for 10 in save opportunities and had a 2.86 ERA.

And Wood is still better than half the closers in baseball. I would take Wood over a lot of the pitchers who are closing games for contending teams.

Cons

In the last 11 years, Wood’s arm has been through hell and back. He has had Tommy John surgery, a partially torn rotator cuff, a sore elbow, a strained triceps, and blisters on his fingers.

You name the arm injury, Wood has probably had it.

Health is the number one concern for any GM who is willing to trade for Wood. The other concern with Wood, would be his relatively down year in 2010.

His WHIP of 1.382 was his highest since 2000 (1.453), his strike out rate went from 11.4/9 to 10.3/9 in 2009, his walk rate almost doubled from 2.4 in 2008 to 4.6 in 2009 and threw more pitches per inning (17.6) than at any point of his career.

Has age and injuries finally caught up to Wood?

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of acquiring Wood, let’s look at the teams that might be interested in Wood.

Atlanta Braves: Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano are both free agents and if they leave, the Braves have no internal option to replace them. Wood would be a nice replacement for the Braves.

Chicago Cubs: Could the Cubs possibly bring Wood back? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Wood and the Cubs had a pretty clean break and the Cubs don’t have a closer going into 2010. Carlos Marmol is much better suited to be a set-up guy than a closer on a team trying to compete for a pennant.

Houston Astros: Wood would love to follow in his idol’s (Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan) footsteps by pitching for the Astros. Jose Valverde and Latroy Hawkins are both free agents and Wood would make sense.

With Wood making $10.5 million in 2010, I am not sure the Astros have the ability to take on the salary or the prospects to acquire Wood.

I would never count out Drayton McLane though.

Tampa Bay Rays: For me, the Rays are a match made in heaven for Wood. They have the surplus of mid-level prospects and they have the need to get a deal done.

The Rays can’t go into 2010 with JP Howell and Dan Wheeler as the closers. They caught lightning in a bottle in 2008 and it’s not going to happen again.

This team needs a closer and Wood would be a great fit.

Detroit Tigers: Trading Wood within the division isn’t as crazy as it sounds for the Indians. The Indians aren’t expected to compete this year and by the time the Indians are ready to compete, Wood will be long gone from the Tigers.

I know the Tigers have said they are in cost cutting mode right now, but saying it and doing it are completely two different things. Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon are free agents and I don’t think the Tigers feel Ryan Perry is ready to close.

On the surface, Wood makes sense for the Tigers.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels are known to fix their mistakes rather quickly. Signing Torii Hunter to replace Gary Matthews Jr. is a perfect example of that.

The Angels found out first hand in the postseason Brian Fuentes might be a nice regular season closer, but he is not big time. Acquiring Wood would give Mike Scioscia options at the end of a game.

When acquiring Wood, a GM has to ask himself the tough question of which Wood am I getting? Am I getting the Wood who was rock solid in the second half of 2009 or am I getting the injury-prone closer who struggled for the first half of 2009.

My prediction is that Wood stays with the Indians through the winter and they trade him close to the July 31st trading deadline when teams are making one last playoff push.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Milwaukee Brewers Re-sign Trevor Hoffman

October 5, 2009

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Milwaukee Brewers have re-signed closer Trevor Hoffman to a one year, $8 million contract for 2010 with a mutual option for 2011.

When the Brewers signed Hoffman last offseason, I thought he would get his 30-40 saves and have an ERA around four. But despite his K/9 decreasing and his BB/9 increasing, Hoffman turned in one of his best statistical seasons in 2009.

Hoffman will be back with the Brewers

Hoffman will be back with the Brewers

Hoffman had 37 saves with a 1.83 ERA (lowest since 1998 – 1.48), 0.91 WHIP (lowest since 2004 – 0.91), and held hitters to a .193 batting avg. against (lowest since 1998 – .166).

Pretty impressive for a man who will be turning 42 next week.

The Brewers definitely got their value for Hoffman. They signed him last year to a one year, $6 million contract and according to Fangraphs, Hoffman was worth about $6.9 million this year.

Will Hoffman be worth the $8 million the Brewers are going to pay him next year? Logic says no. It’s hard for a 42-year-old at any position to make significant improvements year after year.

However, if you look at the Brewers options outside of Hoffman — this deal makes sense for the Brewers. Since the Brewers have no internal options to replace Hoffman, they would have had to go shopping on the free agent market or trade for a closer.

Look at the free agent closers this year – Billy Wagner, Fernando Rodney, Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Kevin Gregg, and Jose Valverde.

Maybe you can argue that you would rather have Soriano or Valverde over Hoffman. But they are going to perhaps require multi-year deals  or would cost the Brewers drafts picks.  Draft picks are gold to a team like the Brewers.

On the trade front, a guy like Kerry Wood could be had, but I don’t think the Brewers want to trade prospects for a closer.

At the end of the day, there’s really nobody out there that is so much better than what Hoffman is at this point in his career. Definitely nobody worth giving up draft picks or prospects for.

The Brewers took care of their back-end of their bullpen today. Now they just need to take care of their starting rotation.

If they can do that, the Brewers will be contenders once again in 2010.

Jordan Zimmermann To Have Tommy John Surgery…

August 11, 2009

The Washington Nationals just can’t catch a break. According to the Washington Post, Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann will have season ending ligament replacement surgery – otherwise known as Tommy John surgery.

Not only will Zimmermann miss the rest of the 2009 season, but he might miss all of the 2010 season as well. Based on pitchers in the past who have had Tommy John surgery, it usually takes a pitcher a year and a half to fully recover from the procedure.

This is a huge blow to the Nationals.

Zimmermann, who is only 23-years-old was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of the Nationals’ starting rotation along with John Lannan and hopefully Stephen Strasburg.

Zimmermann should be ready to go in 2011

Zimmermann should be ready to go in 2011

Zimmermann was 3-5 with a 4.63 ERA on season, but showed great promise and had 92 K’s in 91.1 IP.

If there is anything positive to take out of this, it is that with the advancements in this procedure, Zimmermann should be able to not only pitch again, but make a full recovery. When Zimmermann returns at the age of 25, he will have his whole career in front of him.

If Zimmermann wants to feel better about things all he needs to do is place a phone call to Joakim Soria, Kerry Wood, Josh Johnson, Chris Carpenter, Erik Bedard, or AJ Burnett. They are just some of the many pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery and have gone on to have successful major-league careers.

Cubs Offseason Moves Puzzling….

February 27, 2009

At the end of every offseason your favorite team will fall into 4 categories:

1. Improved team through free agency spending. Yankees & Braves

2. Improved team through trade(s). A’s & Royals

3. Kept quiet, not making any major signings or trades. Cardinals

4.Traded players and lost players to free agency because team is rebuilding or economy affected the team. Padres & Astros

The Chicago Cubs, fresh off of a 97-win season somehow managed to fit into all 4 categories. They signed free agents and made trades, but let some of their top free agents go. Thus, making the Cubs offseason truly puzzling. Let’s take a look at some of the players the cubs brought in this offseason and who they replaced from that 97-win team.

Closer

In – Carlos Marmol, Cubs 8th inning set-up man in 2008

Out – Kerry Wood, Signed free agent contract with Indians

Analysis – Carlos Marmol takes over for Kerry Wood as the Cubs closer. This is either going to end up very good or very very bad. There will be no gray area with Marmol. Some guys can make the transition from 8th inning set-up guy (Krod, M. Rivera) and some guys can’t (Benitez, Dotel). I just don’t see it from Marmol. I am going to put him in the Benitez, Dotel class.  Before you start disagreeing with me, remember this. Marmol in save situations in 2008 had a 3.22 era. In non-save situations, his era was 2.11.

Set-Up Man

In –Aaron Heilman/Kevin Gregg, both acquired via trade

Out –Carlos Marmol, promoted to closer

Analysis –Failing to re-sign Wood created a ripple effect in the Cubs bullpen. Marmol replaces Wood and Heilman and Gregg will attempt to replace Marmol. Heilman, was actually traded twice this offseason. First to the Mariners and then of course to the Cubs. After being one of the top set-up men in the game from 05-07, Heilman had a meltdown last year with the Mets. A 5.21 era and 46 bb in 76 innings put Heilman in the doghouse.

Gregg, was having a solid season for the Marlins last year until he melted down in August. An 0-4 record with a 10.12 era earned Gregg a demotion from Marlins closer to set-up guy. The Cubs acquired 2 guys who had meltdowns last year. It will be interesting to see how both Heilman and Gregg react when they blow their first 8th inning lead and the Wrigleyville faithful boo them off the mound.

2nd Base

In – Aaron Miles, signed as free agent/Mike Fontenot, bench player in 2008

Out –Mark DeRosa, traded to Indians for 3 minor leaguers

Analysis – This is where the Cubs offseason gets interesting. Cubs GM, Jim Hendry traded the heart and soul of the team last year for 3 minor leaguers. Not only was DeRosa the heart and soul but he also was one of the Cubs MVP’s last year if not the MVP. DeRosa hit .285/21/87/.376 and played 2b, 3b, lf, rf, ss and 1B last year. He replaced Soriano in LF when Soriano went on the DL, he filled in for Fukodome when he was struggling and he gave Ramirez a day off at 3B from time to time. No matter where DeRosa played, the Cubs’ lineup never suffered. How do you trade one of your MVP’s from the year before, in what seems like a salary dump and then go ahead and sign Aaron Miles to a 2 year $4.9MM deal? Just doesn’t make sense. Though Miles can play 2b, ss, 3b and all 3 OF positions, he just can’t match DeRosa’s offensive output. In 6 seasons, Miles has 16 hr and 170 rbi. I am completely puzzled by this move.

Center Field

In – Reed Johnson, 4th OF on Cubs in 2008

Out –Jim Edmonds, free agent remains unsigned

Analysis – The Cubs signed former Cardinal, Jim Edmonds in May and he gave them the spark they were looking for.  Edmonds hit 19 hr with 49 rbi in 85 games. Unless the Cubs resign Edmonds right before the season starts, they will go into 2009 with Reed Johnson as their starting CF. Johnson to me seems more like a great role player and bench guy rather than a starting CF on a team trying to win the pennant. Johnson has never had more than 12 hr and 61 rbi in a season.

Right Field

In – Milton Bradley, signed as free agent

Out –Kosuke Fukodome, 4th OF for Cubs in 2009

Analysis – If the Mark DeRosa trade was puzzling, the Milton Bradley signing defies logic. Give a guy a 3 year $30MM contract to play RF who has only played 23 games in RF the last 2 years and is injury prone? This signing could be a disaster. Who would you rather have…Bobby Abreu for 1 year and $5MM or Milton Bradley for 3 years and $30MM? I would rather have Abreu. The odd man out in the Cubs OF shuffle is Kosuke Fukodome. After having a dismal 2nd half in 2008 (.217/3/22) Fukodome found himself in Piniella’s doghouse. A place were Fukodome may never get out of.

I tought Fukodome deserved a 2nd chance. Remember, it was Fukodome’s patience at the plate (81 BB in 2008) that was contagious throughout the Cubs lineup early in the season. Plus, he is a much better defensive player than Bradley. Piniella is a great manager but one of his faults is when a player get’s into his doghouse, there are no 2nd chances. Just ask Rich Hill.

As you can see, this Cubs offseason has been very puzzling. In my opinion, an offseason where the Cubs have gotten worse. I do believe the Cubs will win the weak NL Central this year but is team better than last years version of the Cubs? Based on the offseason, it might be 101 years without a title in Wrigleyville.

Looking At Fantasy Closers In 2009…

January 29, 2009

I have always considered closers like kickers in the NFL. There are 5 or 6 great ones, some very good ones, some good ones and then there are ones I wouldn’t draft for my worst enemy. By using this theory, I have ranked all 30 current closers into different divisions. The guys who you should definitely take and the guys you shouldn’t.  Let’s take a look were the current crop of closers will fall in 2009.

Dennis Eckersley Division

These are your cream-of-the-crop, top closers headed into 2009. These guys are #1 closer material in any fantasy league

1. Francisco Rodriguez, Mets – Krod, who broke Bobby Thigpen’s record for saves with 62 in 2008 with the Angels will now attempt to close out games in Flushing. While many people point to Krod’s diminished strike out rate (declined every year since 04) and his rising BAA (increased every year in the majors), it’s not like Krod had 62 saves with a 4.50 era. Krod’s era was still a dominant 2.24. With the Mets offering their closers plenty of save opportunities (72 in 08), Krod figures to close 45-50 games in 09.

2. Mariano Rivera, Yankees – Many thought the 2007 was the beginning of the decline for the great Rivera because of a 3.15 era (highest since he became a reliever). 2008 proved that was anything but the case. The 39 year old had one of the best seasons of his career, netting 39 saves with a paultry 1.40 era. If all is well from off-season shoulder surgery, Rivera once again will be one of the top closers in 2009.

3. Joe Nathan, Twins – Nathan, one of the most consistent closers in baseball had another stellar year in 2008 with 39 saves anda 1.33 era. You can pretty much pencil in the Stony Brook product 35-40 saves with an era under 2.

4. Joakim Soria, Royals – “The Mexecutioner” burst onto the scene in 2009 for Royals posting 42 saves with a nice 1.60 era. The 24 year old has been practically unhittable since reaching the majors in 2007 as he has only given up 85 hits in 136.1 innings. Soria should be a top 5 fantasy closer again in 2009

5. Brad Lidge, Phillies – Lidge had a season for the ages in 2008, going a perfect 41/41 in save opportunities. While I don’t expect Lidge to be perfect again in 2009, he should once again be one of the top closers in baseball as the Phillies figure to contend in the NL East.

6. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox –The Red Sox closer set a career high in saves in 2008 with 41. Fantasy owners only concern with Papelbon would be he threw a career high 79.1 innings last year including the post season. Look to see what Papelbon does in April. If he is strong through April, then a typical Papelbon season is in order

Tom Henke Division

The next 4 are right under the great closers but will still put up solid numbers for you in 2009

7. Jose Valverde, Astros – Finished 2nd in baseball in saves with 44, high era of 3.38 but lots of K’s with 83

8. Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers –With Saito off to Boston, Broxton takes over as the full-time closer in LA. 35-40 saves with 80+ K’s is more than doable in 2009

9. Francisco Cordero, Reds –With the Reds improved in 2009, Cordero might reach the 40 save mark. Something Cordero has done twice before. Unfortunately, Cordero’s usually high era will leave him out of the top 6

10. Kerry Wood, Indians – One of the better season signings in baseball, Wood gives something Cleveland hasn’t had in a very long time….A LEGIT CLOSER. There is always an injury risk when picking Wood but if healthy Wood is certainly a top 10 closer. I like 35+ saves for Wood in 2009

Jeff Montgomery Division

The perfect #2 fantasy closer. These next 5 guys are perfect #2 closers

11. Bobby Jenks, White Sox – How does a guy who throws 98 mph only strike out 5.55 guys every 9 innings? Just doesn’t make sense.

12. BJ Ryan, Blue Jays – Ryan isn’t the strike out pitcher he used to be but he still knows how to save a game. Pencil in 30+ saves again for Ryan in 2009.

13. Huston Street, Rockies –I am on the Huston Street bandwagon this year. A fresh start with the Rockies and this being an odd year, Street should have a nice bounce back year. Street, like Bret Saberhagen pitches very well in odd years

14. Brad Ziegler, A’s – Ziegler burst onto the scene last year by starting off his career with a 39 inning scoreless streak. I expect Ziegler’s era to increase from 1.06 to around the high 2 mark in 09. With the A’s very much improved expect Ziegler to register 25-30 saves

15. Brian Fuentes, Angels –I am not sold on Fuentes as most people are. He lost his closers role in 07 only to gain in back in 08. With Shields and Arredando looking over Fuentes’ shoulder it will be interestingto see how Fuentes fairs. The Angels offer a lot of opportunities for saves so 30+ saves with an era in the high 2’s is not out of the question

Armando Benitez Division

These guys can get you saves but when you need them the most they will blow a big one in September

16. Brian Wilson, Giants – 41 saves, 4.65 era in 2008

17. Trevor Hoffman, Brewers – It will be weird to see Hoffman in a Brewers uniform. At this stage of his career Hoffman will get his saves, perhaps 25-30 with an era of around 4.50

18. Matt Capps, Pirates – Good for 15-25 saves on once again a very bad Pirates team

19. Mike Gonzalez, Braves – Had 14 saves in 36 games in 2008. High era of 4.28. Injury always a concern with Gonzalez

20. George Sherrill, Orioles –1st time closer in 2008, Sherrill had 31 saves before an injury ended his season. Lots of hits and a high era is something to be wary of in 2009

Al Reyes Division

These closers are usually 8th inning set-up types that are forced into the closers role because the team has no one else. These are the guys you only draft if you desperately need to fill a closers spot

21. Brandon Lyon, Tigers

22. Dan Wheeler, Rays

23. Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks

24. Heath Bell, Padres

25. Ryan Franklin, Cardinals

26. Joel Hanrahan, Nationals

27. CJ Wilson, Rangers

28. Tyler Walker, Mariners – With the Heilman trade yesterday, it looks like Walker might get the 1st shot at the closers role. Officially the worst closer in baseball headed into 2009.

Octavio Dotel Division

These are the 2 question marks going into the season. Great as 8th inning set up guys but are now asked to close games. Big difference between the 8th and 9th innings. These guys can either be in the Tom Henke division or the Armando Benitez division

?. Carlos Marmol, Cubs – Only 3 other relievers were in more games than Marmol was in 2008. Will the over use of last year come back to bite the Cubs this year? I am not sure if Marmol has the mental make up to be a closer, especially in Wrigleyville. I will go with 33 saves, an era in the low 3’s and a lot of tums for Sweet Lou

?. Matt Lindstrom, Marlins – As I wrote in my post about the Marlins, Lindstrom is the X factor for the team in 2009. I like Lindstrom more than Marmol because of less pressure in Florida and Lindstrom proved he can do the job by going 5-5 in September. I like 25 saves and an era in the mid 2’s for Lindstrom

Norm Charlton Division

Top set up guys who are waiting in the wings and could fill in adequately if something happened to the current closer

1. Kevin Gregg, Cubs

2. Scot Shields, Angels

3. JJ Putz, Mets

4. Ryan Madsen, Phillies

5. Grant Balfour, Rays

Mark Davis 1989 Division

This is for the one guy who I will think have that ridiculous year, seemingly out of nowhere. Good the year before and this year explodes on the scene

Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers –As I mentioned earlier, I really like Broxton this year. The Dodgers offered their closers 55 save opportunities last year, so racking up saves shouldn’t be a problem for this 24 year old. Playing in the NL West, the worst division in baseball should help Broxton dominate in 2009