Category Archives: florida marlins

Goodbye, Kerry Wood: A Cubs Fan’s Farewell

After this afternoon’s Chicago Cubs game against the Chicago White Sox, Kerry Wood officially retired from Major League baseball. He struck out the only batter he faced and went out with a bang.I have been a Cubs fan for all of my life and Wood will always be one of my favorite baseball players. In ’07, I had the privilege to see him pitch, but he wasn’t the dominant pitcher that once struck out 20 batters in a single game. Injuries derailed his playing career in the mid-2000s and was forced to pitch relief. He had success in that role, but he struggled this season with an ERA of 8.31 and twice as many walks as strikeouts.

How will will he be remembered, as a pitcher who once struck out 20 batters in a game or for the mystery of ‘what might have been?’

It is a shame that we will never know how dominant Wood could have been without his injuries. Wood and Mark Prior were going to be the Cubs version or Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, but both suffered career-threatening injuries. Wood was the last relic from the 2003 Chicago Cubs team who were only seven outs from making an improbable World Series appearance. The Bartman play occurred during that series, but most forget that it took place during Game 6 of the NLCS. Wood pitched in Game 7 and even hit a home run. He took the lost the game 9-6 and the Florida Marlins went on to win the World Series.

After the ’03 NLCS disaster, he was never the same. He had a sub-par ’04 season and then suffered injuries that kept him out for the majority of the following three seasons. He returned in late ’07, but came out of the bullpen as a precautionary measure. He turned into a capable relief pitcher. He even moved into the closer role in the ’08 and ’09 seasons, racked up 54 saves. He spent the next two seasons with the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees, but then returned to Chicago for a hometown discount.

Saying goodbye to Wood is a hard thing for me to do. I had to write a similar farewell to Peyton Manning post just two months ago. I am a huge fan of both teams. As a fan, it will be odd to not see either Wood or Manning on my team’s sideline.

Cubs fans always kept faith that Wood would return and contribute to the team. Prior was not so lucky. The fans lost patience with him much quicker. We all know that Wood will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame or even get his number retired. He will always been mentioned in Cubs folklore as a member of the ’03 team and for his amazing rookie season in ’98. He holds a special place in the hearts of Cubs fans.

You will see him around Chicago. He will be a special assistant in the Cubs organization and he has his foundation in the city. He is a devout Christian and does a lot of great things for the people of Chicago.

Wood finishes his career with a 86-75 record and 3.67 ERA. The two-time All-Star also struck out 1581 batters in 1379 innings.

He could have been the next Nolan Ryan or Steve Carlton, but he turned out to be the first Kerry Wood.

Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game vs. Houston Astros in 1998


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Gregg Makes Cubs Lose Wood

It looks like the Kerry Wood Experiment is officially over in Chicago. The Chicago Cubs acquired Kevin Gregg from the Florida Marlins for the minor-leaguer, Jose Ceda. Gregg has been the closer in Florida the last two seasons and he will be the set-up man for Chicago next season with Carlos Marmol assuming the closer role. This is a cost-cutting move by the Cubs in hopes of landing a left-handed power bat this offseason and re-signing Ryan Dempster. Wood is looking for a three-year deal in hopes of receiving $10 million a season.

GM Jim Hendry didn’t close the door to Wood in the future but thinks he should go get what he deserves in the open market. The New York Mets and Texas Rangers appears to be a good fit for Wood and have the money to sign him.

Kevin Gregg isn’t as good as Kerry Wood, but for a team that is cutting a few corners while spending large amounts of money, they feel like this is needed to keep Dempster and get a power left-handed bat to replace Fukudome in right-field. Gregg will have an ERA around 4.00 and give up a few extra homers in Wrigley Field. If he stays healthy, which he couldn’t do last season, he could help Chicago this year.

Jose Ceda has been in the Cubs farm system for a few years. The Padres traded him to Chicago when he was 18 years old for Todd Walker. Many baseball experts believe that Ceda could be a future closer and could become a Lee Smith type of pitcher. It looks like the Cubs could get the best out of this trade this season, but Ceda could be a beast for Florida for many seasons to come, until he hits arbitration, then they’ll trade him for another future star.

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For The 600th Time, Griffey Is Awesome

After what seems to have been an eternity, Griffey Jr. finally hit his 600th home-run. He has been stuck on either 598 or 599 for nearly an entire month, but he ended all the madness with a monster shot against the Florida Marlins tonight. This is probably the first “legit” 600th home-run milestone we’ve seen since Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, but yet it doesn’t seem as big of a deal.

Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds are both members of the 600-club, but a huge asterisk is attached to their accomplishment. Although Sosa has never been attached to any proof of cheating, Bonds has a few “pending” reasons why his accomplishment is tarnished. Junior appears to be legit and if it wasn’t for his various injuries over the past ten years, he could have been the one that broke Aaron’s record. He still has a few more seasons left in him and I think a logical goal would be to surpass Willie Mays at 660. He could average around 20 knocks a year over the next three seasons and retire as one of the best players to play the game.

Now since Junior has achieved this milestone, I look for the Reds to try and move him to an American League team so he could become a designated hitter. I still think he is a good outfielder, but he seems to need more days off to be productive. The Reds are in a youth movement and would benefit from having him around, but it wouldn’t be fair to him to stay on a team with the playoffs not being in Cincinnati’s future this season.

Congratulations Junior, now go on being awesome and stay away from this guy!

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Oh God, Dontrelle Willis Is Pitching

Dontrelle Willis is having a terrible year, even by Vin Baker standards. Coming into tonight’s game, he has allowed 16 walks and only 3 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. He has spent most of the season on the DL and after tonight’s outing, the Tigers should look into having Willis head to the minors.

He started tonight against the Cleveland Indians and only lasted 1 1/3 innings, gave up 5 walks, allowed 8 earned runs on 3 hits (two of them being home-runs). After striking out two batters tonight, his BB:K ratio is 21:5, which Jose Canseco could do as a starting pitcher in the major leagues.

I’m not sure what is wrong with Dontrelle, he came into the majors with lightning stuff and a deception with his release that makes the ball hard to pick up for the batter. Questions about his performance started to appear last season when he went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA for the Florida Marlins. Willis was then traded to the Detroit Tigers in the Miguel Cabrera for Cameron Maybin/Andrew Miller trade in the offseason.

Willis could end up being another tragic figure like Mark Prior. Willis has not had the extended trips to the disabled list like Prior, but I believe that his arm could be tired. In his first five seasons, Willis amassed 15 complete games and averaged 200 innings a season. He was a big part of the magical 2003 season in which the Marlins came out of nowhere to win the World Series, but ever since, his teams have been playing for nothing important and using his arm as much as possible.

The Tigers are in need of pitching, so they could end up using Willis a few more times before they become cautious. They just found out that Jeremy Bonderman, the staff’s #2 starter, will be lost for the season due to blood clots, but Joel Zumaya will be back soon from various injuries. Their farm system isn’t very deep, since they traded their best prospects to obtain Willis and Cabrera. Brandon Inge could become expendable, but it looks like their pitching woes will not be cured by an addition of one starting pitcher.

I wish the best for Dontrelle Willis, but it looks like this season will be a long one.

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Florida Marlins To Sign Toddlers, Still Contend

The Florida Marlins must have signed a deal with the devil. Their overall payroll is $22 million dollars, which is less than A-Rod or Manny Ramirez makes in a year. Their team is filled with kids under the age of 25 and still win more games than expected. They are currently in 1st place in the NL East, which was supposed to be a 3-way race among the Phillies, Mets, and Braves. They have so much talent that they kept their #1 prospect, Cameron Maybin, in the minors to mature, since they are already loaded with outfielders.

Hanley Ramirez is this team’s MVP and he will be the league MVP before his career is over. He’s the definition of a five-tool player with his power, speed, high batting average, defense, and a rocket arm. He was acquired in the Josh Beckett deal with the Boston Red Sox. Beckett helped the Sox win championships, but you would have to think that they didn’t know what they had. Ramirez will command a $200 million dollar contract when he is a free agent. He is the best hitting shortstop since Alex Rodriguez played the position.

Josh Willingham, Jeremy Hermida, and Alfredo Amezaga are the outfielders for the Marlins. Luis Gonzalez, who is their lone veteran position player, he platoons and is a positive influence on the young players. Maybin is waiting in the wings if one of the outfielders doesn’t produce, which will only make these guys play harder. Hermida and Willingham were highly-touted prospects, they have a lot of talent, but yet to stay healthy enough to play up to their potential. They have both played very well this year and look for them to have breakout seasons.The infield could possibly be one of the best offensive infields in the league. Jorge Cantu has been a surprise so far this year and if he continues to hit for power, will have over 30 home-runs. Dan Uggla, their second-basemen, has surprised everyone since 2006 and he is still producing. Mike Jacobs is my favorite in this group, he seems to have enough raw power to hit 40+ homers and could possibly draw a lot of prospects in a trade, behind Ramirez. If the Marlins can find an everyday catcher in their farm system, this Marlins team will be solid from top to bottom.

The Achilles’ heel of the Marlins would be their pitching. Scott Olsen and Mark Hendrickson have been pitching great, but is questionable if they can sustain this over an entire season. Andrew Miller, a piece they received in return in the Cabrera/Willis trade to Detroit, should gain some experience this season. They need him to work long enough into games that their bullpen doesn’t get tired out. Kevin Gregg, their closer, has experience in the role and should be solid over the stretch.We may only be a quarter into the season, but if the Marlins keep putting up runs, their pitching will have won’t be pressured and be relaxed. Florida always has a small-window for winning a championship, all of these prospects will command huge contacts and will only be around for a couple seasons.

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Mike Jacobs Is The New Chris Shelton

The Florida Marlins have been waiting patiently for Mike Jacobs to turn into the power-hitter they thought he would become. When Jacobs was a rookie with the Mets, he was brought up at the end of the year and hit the cover off the ball. Jacobs has hit 6 home-runs so far this season and the everyone in the Marlins clubhouse is happy. ESPN could have ended the happiness with an article that ran today. Jayson Stark. a poor-man’s Peter Gammons, reported that a very knowledgeable scout said that Jacobs is this year’s Chris Shelton. For those who don’t remember Shelton, he hit 9 home-runs in the fist 13 games of the season for the Tigers a few seasons ago. Not only did Shelton’s power come to a screeching hault, but he found himself in the minors by the end of July.I don’t think Stark thinks that Jacobs will end up in the minors this season, just Jacobs has an upper-cut swing that has a huge hole in it. He doesn’t think his power will last an entire season. My question is that if Richie Sexton and Adam Dunn can hit 40 home-runs in a season with an upper-cut swing, why can’t Jacobs do it? I’ve seen worse swings in my time. I don’t think Jacobs will hit 40 dingers, but I think he will have a decent year on a not-so-good team.

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