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Anything could still happen, and a Cubs Convention surprise has a nice public relations ring to it.

But the presently-available signs point to Kerry Wood not returning to the Chicago Cubs in 2012.

From CSN Chicago:

Sources with knowledge of the negotiations told me late Monday night that Wood’s days as a Cub appear all but over.

“Woody wanted to be here despite the rebuilding process but while the Cubs were saying they wanted him back they were unwilling to pay him the market value for a solid set up man,” he said. “He has heard from a number of teams that are World Series contenders and they are all willing to pay him a very fair salary to strengthen their bullpen. The Cubs expected him to pitch for another hometown discount. He has already done that for them a couple of times before. There is no reason that he should have to do that again.”

This could still be part of a last-minute jockeying strategy (after all, the source is clearly from Kerry’s side), but, if you’re hoping Wood is back next year, it doesn’t look good.

Last night, Wood joined Dave Kaplan on the radio, and he didn’t express much confidence in a return. In fact, he sounded like a guy who knows he’s leaving.

“Regardless of what happens, we’re still in Chicago,” Wood said. “We’re dedicated to the city, and things will work out for me in the city of Chicago because we’re dedicated to the city, we’re dedicated to the community, we’re dedicated to helping children and again we’re staying here we’re raising the family here. I’m a Texas boy, but I feel like I’ve become a Chicagoan, so we’re happy to be here whether I finish here or whether I don’t, we plan on being here a long time.”

“Obviously it’s great to hear [Theo Epstein's kind words about me],” Wood added. “I mean, that’s great. I don’t envy the job he has and what he’s doing right now. I think he’s got a tough job ahead of him. Moves have to be made, some that he’s already done. So, he’s not in an easy position. But again, hopefully 2, 3, 4 years down the road we’re saying that he made all the right moves, and that’s why this team is consistently in the playoffs. So we hope that happens.”

I remain of the opinion that, whatever Wood brings to the Cubs as an aging setup pitcher (he’s still good at what he does, assuming his knee returns to form) isn’t the primary reason to bring him back. He is a invaluable leader on a team expected to be full of young kids who need leading. And he’s a fan favorite. I know that doesn’t put wins on the board, and that is the most important thing. But we aren’t just cheering for laundry. I like cheering for Kerry Wood. It makes my fandom that much more enjoyable. I don’t care if that makes me sound naive or uninterested in seeing a winner.

I can be both a fan of winning and of a guy like Kerry Wood. He is, in that regard, the exception.

  • Cheryl

    I would think that the cubs would do better at getting Wood back. He is a good influence on the team and fans.

  • TonyP

    What a freaking joke.

  • JB88

    “I can be both a fan of winning and of a guy like Kerry Wood. He is, in that regard, the exception.”

    I don’t disagree with the thoughts or the sentiment, but doesn’t Dempster give you that veteran pitcher? Frankly, I would love to see Wood back because I do think that he is a very good set-up man, when healthy, and, at a minimum, could offer very valuable trade fodder at the deadline. For that reason, I’d want to see the Cubs invest in him.

    But — and I ask this seriously — has this FO retained a single player who has been the subject of off-season quotes? They’ve chatted about Ramirez, Pena, Zambrano, Wood and Garza. All are either gone, subject of trade rumors, or appear to be far apart in contract talks. I don’t think this FO talks about their plans, but it almost seems like those guys who are discussed are on their way out.

    • WGNstatic

      I am not sure you can compare Wood to Ramirez, Pena, Zambrano, or Garza.

      From day 1 Ramirez was referred to as an ex-Cub by the new FO. Zambrano was necessary lipservice for a guy under contract. Pena was all media speculation, I don’t recall a single mention of him by Theo or Jed. Garza is a trade candidate and the best pitcher on the team.

      Wood though has been spoken of very highly by Theo. I am not damning Theo if Wood signs elsewhere, but, clearly, that will be a “loss” for Theo and crew. The last thing they are going to want is to look too cheap to bring back the popular Wood. Let him go to a contender? sure. Announce from day one they are going in a different direction? sure.

      Really, this reminds me of the opposite of the way the Sandberg for manager situation unfolded. Theo is smart enough, and knows about passionate fanbases, to try to stay out in front of a situation like this. I am not saying sign Wood at all costs, but rather noting that if Wood leaves my read is that Theo tried and failed to sign him.

    • Cedlandrum

      He doesn’t give you that in the pen. Dempster can be a good influence in the dugout and clubhouse, but out in the pen he has zero influence.

      • BN Virgin

        I disagree in part with this. True, during the game he can’t be an influence to those guys in the dugout. But, he’s only in the bullpen for the duration of the game. Before and after the game he’s still with the team and has the ability to be an influence on the guys around him. Let’s also not forget that for half of every game 9 of those players will be on the field where he also wouldn’t be able to have an influence on them even if he was in the dugout.

  • DRock

    Say it Ain’t so! Woody will be missed for sure if he goes, but if he does sign somewhere else, I hope it’s with a contender and I hope he finally gets a ring.

    (At least we will still have some Wood, though Travis will definitely not replace Kerry!)

  • MontelleW

    Nice Words, Brett. Hope to see him back as well.

  • Dustin

    Theo is trying to get him to take a home town discount…but when its all said and done Theo will pay him what hes asking for and he will be the last one called at the cubs convention.

  • matt

    This SUCKS!!!! That’s as educated as I can sound on the matter. Although as according to my former physics professor “Nothing in the universe sucks…It pulls”…either way…to make him happy…This Blows!

  • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

    Dempster and Reed Johnson will help fill that veteran leader role if Wood isn’t back. I’d rather see him in Chicago than elsewhere, but if he goes elsewhere, I hope Baltimore swoops in and signs the guy. I’m 45 min by train from Camden Yards, and I’d love to be able to watch Wood pitch in person.

  • Bails17

    If KWood was looking for 8 mil over 2 years…is that something we really need to do?  Tough one right there!!!

  • Mick

    We all like Kerry Wood but with our 40-man roster full, Maholm and whatever prospects we get in return for Garza yet to be added, and the obvious rebuild that’s taking place it might be time to bid Wood adieu. We’ve got good depth in RP’s and signing back Wood would block their chances of playing or being promoted. Plus, if he’s asking $4-$5 million per season, that’s eating into our budget to add other players like Cespedes and Soler. So, before people start getting weepy-eyed for Kerry Wood start thinking about what’s best for the rebuild and what we can do to maximize every possible roster decision.

  • Matt

    If Wood wanted to play for a contender I’d wish him the best of luck.

    But he wants to be a Cub.

    Wood is the iconic Cub of his generation, a mentor and all-around great guy.

    Pay the man Theo, rebuild or not.

  • Ashley

    I love Kerry and was so sad the first time he left the Cubs. I thought when he came back that it was all but a conculsion that he would end his career here. This is the first real move that might happen that I will not support Theo on. He is the perfedt guy to have down there in the bullpen and being the right leader and guy in the clubhouse. Kerry knows how to win in Chicago and knows what it is like to struggle, yet he loves the Cubs and it’s fans. This is a terrible thing I just hope the reports are wrong and he is with us on April 5th!

  • OHBearCub

    Tom Ricketts is not a complete moron! Woodie is going to pitch for the Cubs this season.
    This is nothing more than a ploy to get everyone fired up at the Cubs convention. Does anyone really think he is going to announce on Friday that he has signed with the Phillies?
    No Way … they might as well cancel the convention because it will be a lynch mob. Let’s think about this we bring all our fans who can afford a hotel room downtown and all the locals and tell them sorry folks Carey Wood signed with the Phillies because we were to cheap to pay him $4M for a couple years after we just signed Paul Maholm for more than that on a 1 year deal! No Way that happens…. If it does Cubs Nation may revolt!!! All the positive press and The Cubs Nation Loves Theo will die in a single heart beat. I think we are all giving him the benefit of the doubt on a few sketchy moves thus far. If he doesn’t sign Woodie after having said that’s exactly what he was going to do it induce mayhem. Theo’s reputation for telling the truth will be finished forever in Chicago. Carey Wood is the modern day Mr. Cub and if they want to have any kind of tradition left in this organization then they let him play at Wrigley until he says he is done. Period. When you give of yourself and ask nothing back in return and then are not taken care of it’s punch in the stomach you can’t take. If he ends up in the Philly organization like our other Mr. Cub Ryno… Somebody needs to have a congressional hearing to find out what the hell is going on within the organization.

    • ferrets_bueller

      “Carey.”

  • die hard

    wonder what Greg Maddux told him before leaving….like come pitch for my brother in Texas?

  • http://windycityweekly.com WindyCityWeekly

    I like Dempster, but he’s not the leader and influencer that Kerry is. Look at everything Kerry does outside of baseball, and for all the right reasons – that’s an important way how young players learn, not just in the dugout or bullpen.

    What’s more, young players need the fans to get excited, too. They need to feel a part of something bigger, beyond just the “laundry”, which is exactly what Kerry brings.

    I hope Theo and the brass look at Kerry as a valued expense of doing business in Chicago, and keep him.

    • hogie

      I have always heard that Dempster is very active in the community, and not just with his own charities. Kerry may do a little more, but let’s not act like Dempster is just here for the paycheck. I have heard on several occasions that Dempster is a great leader on and off the field. He runs charity events, organizes offseason workouts and has always been a mentor from everything I have heard. I think we would do well to have a few of those guys in the clubhouse, and Wood is for sure a high character guy, but give Demp his due credit man.

  • Robbo

    If Woody is gone, Marshall gone, Grabow gone and 8 potential starters does this mean Samardzija will not be given the shot at the rotation that he was promised? Seems he would be needed in the pen now

    • Mick

      We still have a ton of RP depth. Not counting Samardzija or Kerry Wood, we have 14 RP’s on our 40-man roster. That includes Marmol, Corpas, Sonnestine, Russell, Beliveau, Carpenter, Mateo, Gaub, Coleman, Dolis, Maine, Weathers, Castillo, and Cabrera. Samardzija could definately have a shot at starting with the fall back that he is our 8th inning guy and possibly eventual replacement to Marmol.

  • sam

    If Ricketts /cricketts ( the only sound you will hear in the bleacher come AUG-july- june and early as May ) and Lil theo dont sign Kerry Wood. than LOrd Sith theo will have bigger marketing image problem than they have now .

  • Brian

    If sentiments had a value, then Kerry Wood, I guess would be priceless, but reality says $4-5 million to bring him back on a possible 70-80 win team is border line stupidity.
    Epstein, Hoyer, keep doing what your doing!

    • die hard

      70-80 wins?…..try lowering sights by 50% and wont be disappointed…this team may compete with AAA teams in 2012….

      • WGNstatic

        I completely agree with die hard.

        This team has the chance to be epically bad. We can talk about the upside of Volstad, T. Wood, Stewart, LaHair. The prospects of in-house bullpen arms. Bounce back years from Soto, Marmol, DeJesus.

        However, this team was bad last year. Since then, they have lost Pena, Ramirez, Marshall, and possibly Wood and Garza.

        At some point there is some concern about fielding such a bad team that a losing attitude permeates the clubhouse. If guys are going out there for a 100+ loss team getting their jocks handed to them everyday, that can have real negative impacts.

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        For my article yesterday, I compared the 2011 to the 2012 club in six areas, and after looking at the whole picture I think 70-80 wins is about right. The only area on this team that has significantly declined this winter is the offense, and if they find another bat somewhere even that drop off may not be too severe. The improved starting pitching and defense should offset most of that loss.

        http://cubbiescrib.com/2012/01/09/the-2012-chicago-cubs-have-they-improved/

        This winter the Cubs have gotten younger, deeper, and better on defense. I’m not so sure they’ve regressed to the point of a 35-40 win team like you are claiming.

      • Brian

        Cubs will win more than 35 games. Pitching is already better than last year and on paper defense should be better in a few areas.

      • ferrets_bueller

        What?  the pitching on this team is already significantly better than last year.  While the offense has taken a slight step beck with the loss of A-Ram, with a huge step forward on defense.  And Stewart could easily outproduced Aramis next season.

        • sam

          Stewart outperform A- ram dude this is not Coors Staduim and the man could not hit over 200 avg last year. can he rebound ? I hope so but i have my doubts. This is one position that Cubs are better off in letting someone in the minors start. Stewart ….damn tiger blood is gonna get me in a foul mood again!

          • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

            The closest potential third baseman in the minors (Vitters) probably needs at least a half a season facing more advanced pitching in Iowa before he should come to Wrigley. If you don’t like Stewart, just look at him as a placeholder until Vitters or Lake is ready to be given a shot.

            • sam

              - I dont view Stewart nothing more than a lottery ticket for lil theo ego. If it works out for him the Cubs win, if they dont move on…. but its not a position that I would like to open the season with so many question marks and the players involve in that deal was upsetting – not that We needed to keep those player – we should have recieved a better return.

              • Rancelot

                sam i am – can you please explain to the world why you continue to refer to Theo as lil? What is the purpose to continually demean a universally respected baseball executive? You say the same thing over and over and over and over again. It’s like your mind reboots every so often like the character from Memento who was suffering from anterograde amnesia. You have a very unhealthy obsession/addiction of the Cubs…are you incapable of enjoying anything?

                • sam

                  Why sure I could ! funny you would make that statement. I am very lucky that when i am at my job i have the freedom of the web when the time comes I can then do my job ( I know it sounds wierd)
                  I have a general distrust of lil Theo and maybe one day i will share those feeling and every now and then i do
                  Addiction to the cubs – well I am a fan and every fan has his or story.
                  When i post my thoughts I may make a few people mad- but i share my feeling – i am not a professional writer . just think of me as that old cranky man in the corner but instead of a beerin my hand a .video game or what ever outlet people have . this is an outlet i enjoy for now.
                  right now i am playing poker – having a conversation and careing for my father who is eldery and watching a movie all the same time .

                  but i think the World of Jed — i guess it like ben affleck and JED

          • ferrets_bueller

            I’d say its even odds.  A-ram is getting old, and he’s a lazy bum.  Stewart still has huge potential, and won’t be getting screwed around with inconsistent playing time by the rockies anymore.  And you really need to take defense and base running into account- Aramis is one of the worst 3B in baseball, and ran like Frank Thomas.

    • sam

      4- 5 millions dollars is an investmet – and the man can still pitch. the man can still lead and the man is a home grown star . On a rebuilding team that has more holes than a swiss cheese inspector would reject, this contract should have been easy to complete. LIttle theo Pitching corp is full of dl castaways that dont have 1/1000 of the heart and soul of Kerry Wood nor the talent .

      • Mick

        Kerry Wood can still pitch but so can our 15 other RPs. How about we save our roster spot and millions to sign Soler and/or Cespedes and give someone else a chance to get a few relief innings? Talk smack about DL castaways but that’s exactly where Kerry Wood spent half of last season.

        • ferrets_bueller

          Exactly.  You can take than money and spot, and spend it on someone who is actually going to be here when this team is good.  Putting an investment like than into a 35 year old reliever on a team that isn’t ready to contend is the exact type of shortsightedness that got us into this mess to begin with.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    kerry and jed need to sit down and hash out this deal now my thoughts now thinking it over 1 yr 3.5 mil……we want you back kerry but this yr isnt in it for us,but just in case we sign you to a one yr deal and at the deadliine if the phillies or yanks or rangers etc. come a calling we trade you for prospects that help our farm and you a chance to win,then guess what we do it again next yr same deal that way for at least half the season he’s a cub he brings back value in a trade and gets his chance at a w.s. and in a yr or two when we are contenders we keep him if we are ourselves in it. kerry could net us three or four prospects(lower level) over the next two seasons and possibly himself a ring…..fft

  • pfk

    I’m going to be one unhappy Cub fan if he’s not brought back. He brings much more to the table than those who are paid much more than he is asking. Its cold of them to do this to Wood and, frankly, it puts a really bad taste in my mouth for Epstein and being supportive. I would think Ricketts would intervene as Theo, understandably, has no idea what Wood means to the Cub fan base.

  • AJ

    Nomar Garciaparra was a fan favorite as well, and Theo had no problem shipping him when he felt the time was right. Not that I agree with letting Wood go, but it is something Theo has done before for the sake of the team as a whole.

  • rbreeze

    Hopefully this is last minute posturing and Tom Ricketts will have some influence here.  I am all for the rebuild but losing Kerry Wood would hurt us.  Every team needs not just a veterans influence but somebody who knows the fans, the city and what it has meant to be a Cub.  Oh wait!!!  Maybe this is part of changing the culture by having no remnants of what it means to be a Cub????????????????  If he doesn’t stay with the Cubs, I hope Kerry Wood is happy where ever he ends up!

  • OlderStyle

    Kerry Wood is one of my all-time favorite Cubs. It can be hard to separate the emotion from business of baseball. He’s a 34 year old reliever coming off knee surgery and wants a 2 yr 8 million deal?
    I guess he didn’t really mean it when he said he’d be a Cub or retire. (poor choice, Kerry)
    Now, he’s realized he’s not dealing with good ol’ Jim Hendry but the business-like “not pay for past performance” Theo Epstein. The culture change is not personal but just how the new FO does business.
    As much as I’d like to see Wood return, if the Cubs are totally rebuilding, I’d rather see Theo stay the course to his plan.

  • clark addison

    I still think it’s a 40 man roster decision. Once space is cleared, Wood will be signed.

    And it will happen before the convention.

  • sam

    Maybe its not about the money – maybe it about a no trade clause- I really do not know

  • Brian

    It’s not about money, sentiments, fan this, fan that, it’s about baseball business, something I haven’t seen from the Cubs ever!

  • Matt

    mlbrumors is now reporting that the cubs offered Wood a “substantial” raise.

  • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

    This is complete and utter Bullshit. Not re-signing Kerry is plain dumb. This hurts 10 times worse then the Z trade. Kerry is a true Cub. There is no way to put value to that, so 4 mil should be an easy decision. I say cut Theo salary in half for the next 2 yrs and give it to Kerry, plus what he offered Kerry. That should come up to 4 million a year. Like I said before. I like Theo, but if its Theo or Kerry, I’ll take Kerry. I bet Theo is not willing to be PoBO for less then fair Market value. I bet he wasn’t thinking about the budget when negotiating his own contract. I bet he made sure his buddies, Jed and co got fair market value, but then you come here and try to low ball Kerry, the present day Mr. Cub. I’m waiting for Mr Ricketts to step up and settle this appropriately.

    • Brian

      What relationship do you really think Ricketts has with Wood? About 0, he is here as an owner, who wants to win the right way and Kerry Wood may well not be the right way at this time.
      You would rather have Wood then Epstein, then you are satisfied with 100 more years of garbage, just dumb.

  • robert

    i would rather have wood then marmol as my closerdemster was converted to a starter but used to be bull pen long reliever which i thought he was better in that role….keep wood , get rid of marmol and put demster back in the bull pen

  • TeddyBallGame

    Wow!! “Epically bad”?? As fans, we need to take a step back and look at the clear differences from the 2011 Cubs to this year’s upcoming team regardless of overall record. A-Ram (hot-dogger) and Big Z (we all know what he is) are both gone and regardless in drop off in ablilty, the overall character of the team will have dramatically increased come opening day. Theo and Jed have identified what type of player they want and they’ve gona after them. A few things we probably won’t see nearly as much, if at all: not running out fly balls, not hitting the cut-off man, getting picked off, and overall dog ass attitude on the field. Most importantly, we’re not going to see struggling veterans everyday in the lineup while the kids sit on the bench. This is the year we get a chance to see progression of these “propsects” at the major league level first-hand. At that point, we can start to form true opinions of the new executives, but damn…if we trade Garza (one my my favorite players, but see upside of trading him) for Jacob Turner and prospects, our farm system at the higher levels will have been insanely improved from even 6 months ago. Even if we “stinks” this year at the big league level, it’s all good because I have genuine confidence we’re gonna see that the “Cubs way” actually means something and every player on the 40-man roster will be ready to fill whatever role that is asked of them and it will be done to the best of their ability….side note: I’m beyond happy to see Casey Coleman not even being mentioned as a rotation possibility. We saw about 15 too many starts from him last year and Theo seems to see what most of us saw..

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