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.

  • BD

    I think he’s actually being honest and realistic. Nobody is going to pick the Cubs for anything this year, but it wouldn’t be the craziest story ever if they were successful.

    • Brett

      Maybe not craziest ever … but it would be ‘Mighty Ducks’ crazy.

      • Andrew

        Oh man i hope we whip out the flying V, knucklepuck, or triple deak at some point this season.

      • JulioZuleta

        Sveum: “You think losing is funny?”
        Marmol: “Not at first, but once you get the hang of it…”

        • bluekoolaidaholic

          Great post, thanks!

  • die hard

    Just need
    25 HR and 80 rbi each from Soriano, Castro, and 1B position
    15 wins each from Dempster, Garza, and 3rd slot
    40 saves from Marmol
    .275 or better each from 3B, 2B, CF and RF
    .250 with 20 HR and 65 rbi from Soto
    and a little luck

    and Cubs could surprise

    • JK

      That is lightning in a bottle.

    • DocWimsey

      Wins and RBI are team stats and thus tautological with success: if your players get a lot of them, then you know that your team is doing well. If you want the team to compete offensively, then you need to go from:
      2011 0.255/0.315/0.400 to:
      2012 0.255/0.330/0.425

      If you want the team to compete in run-prevention, then you need to go from:
      2011 0.260/0.335/0.415 to:
      2012 0.255/0.315/0.400

      In other words, make the 2012 Cubs offense as good as the 2011 Cubs pitching was bad, and make the 2012 Cubs pitching slightly better than the Cubs offense was mediocre. A team with a +0.04 net OPS can compete in the NL Central. However, that team will not be the 2012 Cubs.

    • Beer Baron

      All we need is to have Jake Taylor’s knees to hold up, Roger Dorn to improve on defense, Pedro Cerrano to learn to hit the curve ball, Ricky Vaughn to develop some control and maybe Willie Mays Hayes to become a solid lead-off hitter. Suddenly it could all come together

      • Dave H

        This is my kinda team, charlie. This is my kinda team.

        • die hard

          well if going there then top it off with a Mark Prior comeback with Cubs

    • Mike Foster

      diehard, 40 saves from Marmol? Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, ha, Ha……good one!

  • daveyrosello

    Kerry Wood would give his left nut to get the chance to re-live Game 7 again. That loss kills him, as it should. He had the chance to be a legend and he couldn’t get it done. Not ragging on him about it, it’s a game, even the best players have good days and bad. But man oh man, if things are different that one day long ago, everything changes–for him and this organization. Funny game.

    • DocWimsey

      eh, it probably would not have changed much over the long term. The damages done to Wood’s and Prior’s arms was from the intense pitching load that September. The Cubs management would have continued to go for high BA, low OBP guys that never amount to much in the majors. A 2003 NL Champion Cubs (or even WS Champion Cubs) would have evolved into more or less the same team by 2007.

      And even if Wood had not given up that HR to Miggy (which, if you recall, Miggy golfed from just above his ankles!), then Dusty still would have left Kerry in there long enough to give up the lead. If you want to change anything, then go back to Game 2 and have Dusty yank Prior after the 5th when they had an 11-0 lead and not even 80 pitches thrown. No, it would not have saved Prior’s long-term fate, but he might have lasted another inning in Game 6.

      • Andrew

        If the Cubs had won it all in 03, it would change EVERYTHING for the players on that team. I would bet that a lot of the changes over the last 8 years would not be made if the cubs had a world series under their belts.

        • DocWimsey

          Well, yes, the players would have happier memories, and so would we. However, the Cubs problems since 2003 stem from fundamentally flawed ideas about what makes winning teams win and losing teams lose. I do not see how winning the pennant in 2003 would have altered that.

          But, still, I do fantasize about what a Cubs-Sox WS might have been like, and I am looking always for still more pagan gods to whom I can curse Dusty and Grady! 😉