Kerry Wood is as close to a current Mr. Cub (of course, without actually being “Mr. Cub”) as the 2012 team has. He’s spent almost his entire career with the organization that drafted him, and a number of his performances sit in our memory as among our favorite games in the last 15 years.
So, when he opted to return to the Cubs for 2012 on a $3 million deal (announced at the Cubs Convention), there was an understandable warm fuzzy feeling.
At 34, and coming off of knee surgery, there are reasons to be concerned that the warm fuzzy feeling will dissolve into slumped shoulders and frustration by midseason. Still, Wood was pretty good in 2011, and, assuming his knee is in good shape (it was a fairly minor procedure), there is no reason to believe he won’t be at least modestly effective – and theoretically worth his $3 million contract.
But, like, will his performance even matter if the Cubs aren’t any good? Probably not. A top setup guy can help a team, but he can’t carry a bad team.
For his part, Wood doesn’t really seem to mind. He wanted to be in Chicago, with the Cubs. From CSN Chicago:
“It was a three-week rollercoaster there for a little while – I was in four different cities,” Wood said Monday night before the Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. “It worked out perfect. This is where we want to play. But, yeah, it’s definitely tempting to go win a ring. That’s why we play the game.
“If I (had) won a ring with the Yankees in 2010 – that would have been great. But I don’t think it would have meant as much as spending the time that you spend here on all the bad teams and then turning it around and getting so close. It means more for me (to) be part of a winning organization that maybe turns some things around.
“There were veteran guys when I was younger – I still remember things that they told me and that still helps. … I don’t want to be labeled as ‘that guy,’ but it’s nice to tell a young kid something and see them go out and figure it out and have success.” …
“It’s Chicago,” Wood said. “It’s a result-oriented city. That’s just the way it goes, especially with baseball on the North Side. I don’t think anyone’s expecting us to walk out there and run away with the thing and win the World Series. (That’s) a little delusional. But I think we’ve got a good enough team to surprise some people and compete in our division.”
It’s nice to know how much Woody wanted to be here, but, at the same time, there’s some backhanded pessimism built in to his comments. His choice was to “go win a ring” or play for the Cubs. I’m not saying he’s wrong … it’s just always a bummer to be confronted with that reality.