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Cubs Sat Dec 18 2010

Cubs Pitching Moves Begin With Wood's Return

 Christmas has come early for Cubs fans. Two weeks after the death of franchise icon Ron Santo, they welcome back another beloved figure in Kerry Wood. (And in fact, Santo's passing had more than a little to do with Wood rediscovering his North Side roots.)

After two seasons in Cleveland and a brief stint with the Yankees, Kid K signed a one-year, $1.5-million deal, leaving potentially more lucrative deals on the table to return to the organization that drafted him in 1995. Wood will work with Sean Marshall setting up closer Carlos Marmol.

The Cubs held a brief press conference at Wrigley on Friday to reintroduce Wood to the Chicago media. He stated "comfortability" as one the reasons he chose the Cubs offer over others. Wood's desire to be a Cub and finish his career in a Cubs uniform made the money a non-issue.

They have now addressed two key issues this offseason: first base and a late-inning reliever. The Cubs really got a steal in signing Wood. He was acquired by the Yankees from Cleveland at the trade deadline last summer and went 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in 24 games. His numbers with the Indians were so-so, but the Yankees coaching staff noticed something in Wood's delivery. They corrected the problem, which resulted in Wood's stellar second-half numbers.

Not only is bringing Wood back into the mix going to solidify the back end of the bullpen, but it is going to provide a phenomenal veteran presence in the clubhouse. The experience Wood brings to the Cubs is going to make a huge impact on the pitching staff. He's the only current Cubs pitcher to win a playoff game for the team.

The last piece the Cubs need is another starting pitcher. They have been linked to a couple of names, including Brandon Webb and Matt Garza. Both have their pluses and minuses.

Webb, a free agent, is coming off an injury and should come relatively cheap -- and cheap is something the Cubs are looking for with owner Tom Ricketts aiming to reduce in payroll. Webb is a former Cy Young Award winner and he absolutely tortured the Cubs in the 2007 playoffs. I guess if you can't beat him might as well sign him. The downside is if Webb hasn't fully recovered from his injury and is a bust. Most likely if the Cubs do extend a contract offer his way it will be a performance based one.

The other option is the Rays' Matt Garza. The downside of Garza is it is going to cost the Cubs a handful of prospects. The most dangerous part of that deal is that it is unknown at this point what it would take for the Cubs to pry him away from the Rays. The upside is Garza is only 27 years old and he won 15 games last season. He would automatically make the Cubs rotation better giving them a strong No. 3 starter.

The Cubs also feature a handful of in-house starting options in Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija. With the addition of Wood, moving Andrew Cashner to the rotation should be something the Cubs look into. He won't cost the Cubs a thing if they decide to move him to the rotation. His stuff is electric and could become a solid starter over time. As it stands the Cubs have three of the five starters penciled in with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells. After that it is a toss-up.

If the Cubs don't move Gorzelanny he should be slotted into the fourth spot in the rotation. It is tough to say whether or not Silva's 8-0 start last season was a fluke, but perhaps coming to the National League helped him out a bit. I would say it is his job to lose as the fifth starter, but I'm not the one making the decisions on the future of the Cubs rotation. There are plenty of options available for the Cubs; whether they choose the right one remains to be seen.

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jay / December 18, 2010 5:53 PM

cashman et al are idiots for letting wood get away - 1.5 mill ?? they pay ,oron cashman ab out that! dumb and dumber

bill hubbs / December 18, 2010 8:04 PM

welcome back woody--it is rare that players want to return to ball parks and fans that they love when money is on the line--you are a class act for our cub family thanks

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