"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: Kerry Wood

Stuck In The Middle With You

Middle relief: not always pretty...

Middle relievers are nobody’s top priority, nor should they be. As we know all too well, their performances tend to vary wildly from year to year, and even when they’re consistently good they’re still less valuable than your average starter or corner outfielder. And yet, given their rather middling importance, they create an outsize amount of fan stress, disgust, and general tsuris. Every year there is at least one, and often several, relievers who the fans pile on, bemoan, and endlessly joke about and rag on — every team needs a scapegoat for the vagaries of middle relief. The Yankees appear to be turning to this unglamorous segment of team-building right about now, so let’s see who some of the candidates are for either our pleasant surprise or our ire.

The Yankees are apparently nearing a deal with ex-Mets workhorse Pedro Feliciano, known to Amazins fans as Perpetual Pedro. I’ve watched Feliciano pitch in many dozens of games over the years (particularly recently, as he led the NL in appearances two of the last three seasons) and think of him as, more than anything, solid. He has his streaks, both good and bad, and he’s not ever going to inspire a 2007-era Joba sort of frenzy. But he goes out there as often as you could possibly want, and he’s usually good enough to get the job done, no muss no fuss. Jerry Manuel kept trying to use him against good right-handed batters, and that was a mistake; but against lefties, he’s as good as you could ask.

Bobby Jenks has been mentioned for the Yankees and a number of other teams – but word is he’s asking for “closer money,” and therefore may not be a fit for the Yanks. To which I say, too bad – not so much because of any talent he might have but because he is, if I might go ahead and judge this book by its cover, likely to be quite entertaining. The Yankees’ no-facial-hair policy would be a blessing to Jenks and all those who care about him, but personally I would lose out on a good deal of laughter at the expense of ol’ Vagina Chin here.

UPDATE: Never mind, as Buster Olney reports the Red Sox have signed Jenks. Oh, this should be fun…

Kerry Wood looks to be returning to the mothership, as he and the Cubs seem to be close to a deal. The Yankees may miss him (or perhaps not – again, see above re: the year-to-year variability of relievers), but frankly the Wood story was already a pretty excellent one last year, and this could make it an even more compelling narrative. I hope he gets his deal, I hope he does well, I hope both he and the fans get some closure on What Might Have Been. Most of all I hope he stays healthy.

Which brings us to…

The Yankees took a low-risk flyer on Prior. There is almost no way he’ll come back, after four years of injury, to be effective — it would be virtually unprecedented.

But it’s certainly worth rooting for.

Who else you got?

Championship Series Jambalaya

Is it 8 o’clock yet? Long and coherent doesn’t seem to be happening today, so instead, here’s some scattered thoughts from a scattered mind.

*You guys been watching the NLCS? Some excellent games, and I’ve gone from rooting for the Giants because they aren’t the Phillies to genuinely liking them. Lincecum, Kung Fu Panda, Buster Posey, even Brian Wilson who is douchey but at least in an entertaining way. The entire series makes me wish the Yankees would ditch their uptight facial hair regulations already, though. Everything is more fun with beards!

*There’s plenty of time to think about this later and it’s not a surprise anyway, but according to Jon Heyman, the Yanks plan to bring back Joe Girardi. I’m okay with this. Girardi has definitely made his share of mistakes this postseason, but so has every manager. I don’t think there’s been anything fireable. He won the World Series last year and made the ALCS this year (…as of this writing), and although the ghost of George Streinbrenner would disagree, to me, you don’t fire a guy coming off that kind of success unless he does something really crazy/egregious/criminal. Despite what I might end up yelling at the TV during the 8th inning tonight, I think Joe’s been solid.

I wish he’d eat something though. Dude looks gaunt.

*Via LoHud, Robbie Cano hopes Melky Cabrera can rejoin the Yanks next year. I… don’t hope that, but I still have warm feelings for the Melkman and I hope he lands on his feet. He was fun to watch for a while, had some big plays and big hits for the Yanks over the years (remember that catch on a would-be Manny Ramirez homer  just over the left field wall? I do, and I bet Manny does), and I think he could still help some team, at least from the bench.

*It’s easy to overlook in the heat of a white-knuckle eighth-inning playoff relief appearance, but Kerry Wood’s got a pretty great story. Tragic, redemptive, all that stuff.

*It is genuinely kinda depressing how many fans left Yankee Stadium early in Games 3 and 4. I mean, in the ninth of a blowout, I get it. But while it’s still close? In the ALCS? I don’t generally go the fan-police route: I stay til the better end because I’m an obsessive and hate the idea of missing anything — but it’s supposed to be fun, and if you need to leave for work or school or sleep or whatever, you do what you have to do. But the streams of people fleeing before the end warlier this week were pretty embarassing. It’s easy enough for most of the country to hate Yankee fans, no need to load the gun for them.

*Nick Swisher, according to ESPN NY: “If one more guy asks me about Cliff Lee, I’m gonna punch him right in the (bleeping) mouth.” Heh.

Here’s hoping the baseball goes well enough tonight to get us baseball tomorrow night, and cause for Swisher to spaz out some more.

It’s 4pm. Do You Know Who Your Yankees Are?

The latest buzz has the Yankees acquiring Kerry Wood from the Indians for a player to be named later. The Yankees needed a relief pitcher, but Wood, who was just activated from the disabled list where he had landed due to a blister on his right index finger, is an underwhelming solution. Not only is he seemingly always hurt, but in two seasons with the Indians, he has posted a 4.80 ERA and 4.7 BB/9, the worst of that work coming this year (6.30 ERA, 5.0 BB/9), while his typically stellar strikeout rate has been a bit more ordinary at 8.1 K/9 (down from 10.3 K/9 both last year and career). Wood has also given up 1.4 home runs per nine innings this year, all of which combines to make him look a lot like Kyle Farnsworth with a sketchier injury history. Given that Joe Girardi used to catch both pitchers with the Cubs and was likely a driving force behind the Wood acquisition, the comparison seems apt.

As Tyler Kepner has been pointing out on twitter, Wood has been better since a disaster outing on May 19, posting a 3.78 ERA since, but even that figure isn’t overwhelming, and he’s still blown two games and lost a third over the course of just 18 games before landing on the DL with that blister. All of which is to say, I’m not optimistic, and part of me would have rather taken a chance on Chad Qualls (who went to the Rays early this morning) and his outlandish .427 BABIP. Qualls has had better peripherals than Wood this year and, from what I can tell, has never been on the DL. Anyone want to place bets on who pitches better over the next two months?

Update: The Wood deal is official, with Joel Sherman tweeting that the compensation could be money or two “middling” minor leaguers. Indians’ choice if Wood says healthy, price drops after the fact if Wood gets hurt.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver