Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Good Wood and Other Tribe Tidbits

Reports are swirling about from MLB's Winter Meetings that the Indians are closing in on a deal with pitcher Kerry Wood for two years with an option for a third year. My initial reaction to the news - why not push harder for Trevor Hoffman?

Baseball fans know about Wood's impressive start to his career and the subsequent battles with injuries. With the Tribe having limited funds to commit to signing players, there remains little room for mistakes in the team's offseason decision making (see the success stories of Jorge Julio, Roberto Hernandez, and David Dellucci).

Wood did find success in his first year as a closer with a record 5-4, converting 34 saves in 40 opportunities for the Cubs. And in his career, opponents have hit a mere .214 off Wood and as he has averaged 10.4 strikeouts per 9 innings.

However, in deciding between Wood, Hoffman or the incumbent Jensen Lewis, Hoffman seems to provide the greatest reward versus the least amount of risk. Though Lewis proved some much needed "relief" from the early season closer woes the Indians experienced, those in charged have clearly indicated that they don't feel comfortable handing him the reigns. Unlike Wood who has had only one season of success, Hoffman has a proven track record, saving over 30 games 13 of the last 14 seasons. And though there might be concern about Hoffman's age (41) and the miles on his arm (he did have the highest ERA he's had in ten plus seasons) he still kept his WHIP right around 1.00 and struck about a batter an inning last year.

Hoffman would probably want less money and years than Wood, who might be attempting to cash in on one year of being healthy. This might be Wood's last chance to receive a big payday before another inevitable injury happens. When playing with limited funds and a slim margin for errors, I'd prefer for Wood to be someone else's headache. Between a former phenom turned full-time hospital patient or a steady everyman - I'd make a strong play for Hoffman.

In other Tribe news:
  • The Beard will not be returning, as Casey Blake has signed a three year $17 million deal to stay with the Dodgers. I always felt that Casey was under appreciated in his role as a super utility man with the Tribe, filling whatever position opened on the field. I think the Dodgers are a bit crazy for giving Casey a three-year deal, but wish him all the best.
  • Could the Indians look to Furcal to solve their hole in the infield? Yes please.
  • Say goodbye to Tom Mastny as the Indians sold his contract to the Yokohama Bay Stars. Mastny didn't really figure to have any sort of impact on the Tribe's bullpen this year, and if his departure opens the door for a younger arm with more potential - I'm sure they won't have any problem improving upon his 10.80 ERA from last season. Though, I don't know who will fill the Steve Stifler look alike role (maybe Shin-Soo Choo?)

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