Cubs lose Wood, gain Awards

It’s tough for a guy to take a break around here!  Just in the past week the Chicago Cubs have acquired Kevin Gregg from the Marlins, publicly announced Kerry Wood‘s career in blue pinstripes is over, Lou Piniella has won NL Manager of the Year, Carlos Zambrano the Silver Slugger award for NL pitchers, and Geovany Soto named 2008 NL Rookie of the Year. Man, so much for the ‘off’ in off-season.

Kerry Wood – Cubs career is over

I have to say, the departure of Kerry Wood weighs heavy on this Cub fans heart. Kerry embodied so much of the Cubs spirit– or at least what we aspire to. As the face of the Cubs franchise, he’s been a class act that deserves the big contract Jim Hendry announced yesterday was not possible with the Cubs. The contractual relationship between Wood and the Cubs really has been a rare two-way street with both Kerry giving the ‘home town discount’ to sign below market and the team affording Wood every opportunity to get healthy and compete. He will be missed, but to be honest, it might very well be a good baseball move. There is no telling when his arm will give again and signing him to the multi-year deal he deserves could hamstring this club for years (again) if he goes down. Godspeed, Kerry, you will be missed.

Kevin Gregg – Acquired via trade

This one was a surprise.  Jim Hendry gave up arguably one of his most promising young arms in Jose Ceda to get a guy who is at best a middle of the road closer. He allows a lot of base runners for a closer and has a career ERA of 4.00. He has racked up 61 saves over the past two seasons for a pretty bad Marlins club, but he is by no means automatic.  Gregg had more losses, more walks (more than twice as many), more runs allowed, and far fewer strikeouts than Kerry Wood in 2008. My hope is Gregg moves to the 8th inning role and Carlos Marmol becomes the closer. If Kevin Gregg was brought in to close, this move is a step backwards for a team that came up short last year.

Lou Piniella – Wins NL Manager of the Year award

I absolutely, totally agree that Lou Piniella was the best manager in the National League during the regular season in 2008. In fact, the NL manager of the year voting took place prior to the postseason. So it makes perfect sense to me that Lou won this award, he deserves it. But make no mistake, Lou was entirely out-managed by Joe Torre in the playoffs. Lou was a boy among men in every phase of being a field manager in October this year. He blew seemingly every decision in grand fashion. From filling out the lineup, to his pitching rotation, to his in-game strategies. However, during the regular season, Lou Piniella was the best in the NL. Congratulations to him and his decision to donate his $100,000 salary bonus to charity.

Geovany Soto – Wins NL Rookie of the Year award

This one was the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth.  Geo was outstanding; he hit, threw, fielded, called a good game, was clutch, played hurt, and did it all with poise. What’s not to like?

Carlos Zambrano – Wins Silver Slugger award for NL pitchers

Big Z loves to bat and it shows.  A switch hitting pitcher who drives the ball and hits for average. This is his second of many Silver Sluggers to come.

As of today, Cubs GM Jim Hendry can negotiate with the present crop of free agents. There’s been a lot of speculation about Jake Peavy coming to the Northside. Some of the packages I’ve heard seem pretty excessive, even for a pitcher the caliber of Peavy. We’ll see what happens there. If the Cubs don’t sign Dempster, then Peavy is just a slight upgrade (providing Dempster puts up similar numbers in ’09). Now if you’re adding Peavy to a rotation that includes Dempster… now you’re talkin’!  Should be interesting to see the roster come opening day…

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    November 14, 2008   Posted in: awards, Hot Stove, Lou Piniella, observations, players, roster

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