Sunday, March 05, 2006

there's one decision made

this page has spoken repeatedly about the difficult offseason choices that face this chicago cub organization following the 2006 season. with derrek lee, aramis ramirez, juan pierre and greg maddux all going to free agency, questions of where to allocate money and how much to spend will reverberate through several cub seasons afterward.

this page has also discussed how the tribune company will telegraph decisions through its broadcast outlets in the form of trial balloons and smear campaigns. to it makes some sense that we might start finding out what some of these decisions regarding the 2007 team makeup are in the coming months as ownership starts to manage expectations well ahead of the event.

today's column by phil rogers in the tribune appears to be exactly the sort of indication we'd expect to see.

History teaches that Wood can be an occasional force but cannot be counted on, and no one knows that better than the Cubs themselves.

... As spring training was beginning, I wrote that the key for the Cubs was to keep Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux healthy. If those three guys are all right—and Prior has already fallen behind—then this team can be a pleasant surprise. Anything it gets from Wood—25 or 26 starts should still be possible after Monday's surgery—will be a bonus.

And then, more likely than not, the Cubs will begin life after Kerry Wood, just as they began life after Sammy Sosa in 2004. Unless Wood returns as a world-beater, this will probably be his last season in Chicago.

Next to the wide range of recurring injuries he has experienced, the biggest problem with Wood is where he is on the economic spectrum—in the back half of a contract he negotiated after his two best seasons, 2002 and '03. He'll earn $11 million this year and has a $13.5 million option for 2007.

There's almost no way the Cubs can exercise that option, not for a guy who has never won more than 14 games in a season and has averaged only 25 starts. With Zambrano and Prior as cornerstones, the Cubs can afford to spare themselves the annual heartbreak from Wood.

... Maddux matters more for the Cubs this year than Wood. His future with them just might matter more too.

For Hendry and Wood, turning the page is becoming almost inevitable.

this page, for one, finds the interposition of greg maddux in a fictional either/or, mano a mano duel for next year and the fans' affections in the meantime is a particularly craven and pathetic step. but what is clear is that the writing is on the wall for wood: odds are he won't be a cub in 2007.

No comments: