Monday, September 27, 2004

Requim for a Heavyweight

We’ll get to Sammy Sosa and Korey Patterson in a minute.

If you were the manager of the Cubs and you needed to send one guy out to start in a must win game would you choose Kerry Wood?

No way.

He is the fourth best option on this team behind Zambrano, Maddux and Prior. He is untrustworthy and he deserves to have just such a reputation nationally. He does not deserve the one he has with which the Peter Gammons’ of the world make pre-season picks him Wood to win Cy Young awards.

He is an above average talent who pitches at three levels. Unhitable (20% of the time), tough but touchable (60% of the time), and god-awful (20%). And that god awful times seems to happen once per game. Check this summary out, courtesy of Mike Issacs of the Cubbies/Eskimo listserve:

Yesterday, Wood in the first inning allowed 3 hits, 2 walks and 2 hit batters. That was against an awful team that started 5 rookies in a game that was very important.

In his last start against Pittsburgh, where he overall pitched well and the team won, he walked 2 batters in the first inning.

In the opening game of this road trip against the Reds, Wood walked two batters in the first inning.

On August 27 in the first inning, he let up a HR, a walk and hit a batter.

On August 14, he had a great day and was superb from beginning to end.

On August 8, he allowed 3 singles, a wild pitch and a walk in the first inning.

On August 3, he allowed a single, a HR, a walk and a triple in the first inning.

On July 28, he allowed a walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly in the first inning.

On July 23, he allowed a triple, a single and a walk in the first inning.

In other words, Wood had three games in the last 11 where his first inning performance didn't either put this team in a hole or threaten to do so.

Kerry Wood is a solid starting pitcher and a welcome addition to any staff. But the only reason he should ever be compared to Roger Clemens is that they are both from Texas. Wood can’t hold a candle to the big-time pitchers in the majors. He’s just not consistent enough.

And if there are #1A and a #1B pitchers on this team, it’s Zambrano and Prior.

Big Holes

Sammy’s average is now under .250. That’s the lowest it’s been since 1991. Korey gets his first hit in 5 games (yes, *5* games) and he promptly gets picked off. Right now, he’s as fundamentally unsound as any player in the league. That bunt attempt he made the other night was so poor as to make one think he’d never bunted in his life. While Sammy’s contract is an albatross, it’s gone in one more year. Patterson is more dangerous. If the Cubs think that this guy is actually the goods, they may pass up opportunities to improve at his position. Or, they may pass up trades involving Korey that would improve other areas of the team.

Korey should be vigorously shopped in a deal for a closer this off-season. Carlos Beltran should come and play center and be Sammy’s replacement in 2006. It’s very simple.

And obvious.

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