Knock On Wood
The Cubs have announced that one again, Kerry Wood’s shoulder hurts. He received a cortisone shot on Thursday, and will miss 1-2 starts, according to the team. I think it’s safe to assume that Wood will likely be put on the 15 day DL and miss 2-3 starts, before being re-evaluated and then rehabbing before he returns again to the starting rotation. And I’d like to suggest that Wood NOT be returned to the rotation at all this year. The Cubs have several choices on who will take Kerry’s spot. Glendon Rusch, who has been very consistent as a starter; Sergio Mitre, who has alternated between being very good and quite bad; Rich Hill or Todd Wellemeyer, both of whom are doing decently at AAA Iowa; or some combination thereof. My first choice would be to put Glendon Rusch back in the starting rotation, calling up either Wellemeyer or Hill for the bullpen, as Glendon will probably have to stretch his arm out again, so he won’t be able to go deep into games yet. And once Rusch is in the rotation, leave him there for the rest of the season.
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When Wood is ready to return, the team will be in one of two situations: either they’ll be in a dogfight for the Wild Card, or they’ll be totally out of the playoff hunt. If the Cubs are out by that time (and I don’t think they will be) it’s a no brainer to shut down Wood for the season, and hope that just maybe he can get healthy for 2006. But if the Cubs are still in the hunt, it gets trickier, because Wood is definitely a more talented starter than Rusch or Jerome Williams. But while the talent is nice, the Cubs need more than that now. They need consistency. They need to know that their starting pitcher is going to take the ball on the fifth day and pitch six, seven, even eight innings. They cannot afford to have a guy start and then leave after 3 innings with “discomfort”. The Cubs bullpen is simply not good enough to be exposed for that many innings, especially considering that Greg Maddux is normally not going to give the team any more than 6 innings himself. If you have to pencil in your bullpen to throw 10 innings every five days, without even factoring in the starts of 3 other pitchers, you are not going to win.
I’ve said it’s insanity to pay a middle reliever 9.5 million dollars, but at this point, that’s what I think the Cubs will have to do. If Wood is able to come back and pitch this season, he needs to do it from the bullpen. I’m not suggesting that he be made the closer, and I’m not suggesting that this be permanent, Kerry can be put back into the rotation next year. Something that might help more this year is keeping Kerry stretched out as a 2 inning setup man in front of Ryan Dempster, or just having him ready to go on days when Maddux is pitching. Can you imagine what it would be like for batters to face Maddux’s offspeed stuff for 5 innings, and then have to contend with Kerry Wood’s fastball and slider for the next 3? Wood may someday blossom into the starter we all want him to be, but for the remainder of this year, he does the team more good in the bullpen.
Hey Guys, I just wanted to add to the end of this post so i didn’t steal Chris’s thunder. Here are some stats I noticed down on the farm the last few days.
Todd Wellemeyer (SP) – 7 IP, 3 Hits, 0 Runs, 0 BB, 6 K’s and a 3.31 ERA in AAA
Mark Pawelek (SP) – 4 IP, 2 Hits, 1 Run, 1 BB, 3 K’s, and a 0.56 ERA so far in Rookie Ball
Corey Patterson (CF) – 2 for 5 with 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 RBI, a home run and 2 SB. Hitting .286 in AAA
Is it just me or does A.J. Burnett’s face look weird? It’s all bubbly