When the Cubs first traded for Marlins' reliever Kevin Gregg, I couldn't believe that it was with the intention of letting go of Kerry Wood. Now that we know it's for real, it's still hard to stomach.
I remember Wood's first start with the Cubs in 1998 with the Montreal Expos. The Cubs' hot start that year had me committed (from that point on) to being a die-hard Cubs fan. Then the 20 Ks had me hooked. I made myself the proud owner of a Kerry Wood jersey shirt. Anyone who bought a different jersey in 1998 didn't get to enjoy it as long as I have. Mine lasted 11 years. The oldest tenured Cub after Wood on the current roster is Carlos Zambrano and that doesn't hold a candle to Kerry. If there was a Mr. Cub of the last ten years, it was Kerry.
I think it's mostly sad because of the impact Kerry had on the city. He and his wife Sarah were active members of the Chicago community, hosting their philanthropic bowling tournament every year and always volunteering their time to the city and its fans. I'm sure it must be hard on that family to have to pick up and move after 11 years in Chicago.
I suppose it makes more sense than I'd like to believe to let Kerry go. Especially now with Gregg and with Carlos Marmol obviously of closer potential, to spend the money to sign Wood to a legitimate closer deal seems low on the priority totem pole. Especially if Wood was looking for 3 or 4 years, at his age with his injury problems, it doesn't seem in the Cubs' best interest. Plenty of teams need a closer. As long as he doesn't end up with the Cardinals. If that happened, I'd definitely know how Cards fans felt about seeing Edmonds in Cubbie blue.
It would have been nice, however, to actually have a consistent closer, especially with Kerry settling into that role quite nicely this season. In all of Kerry's tenure, the Cubs never had a closer more than a couple seasons. Names like Latroy Hawkins, Rick Aguilera, Tom Gordon and more come to mind. Sorry for making you all shudder.
I think what this ultimately says is that there isn't the excuse that money was a problem in this off-season, particularly in committing to Dempster. With the Peavy possibility all but gone, and now this, Ryan should get his pay day. That, and there should still be some cash lying around to lure in that left-handed bat. Plus, if the Cubs had some expendables to trade for Peavy, they clearly could do the same for that bat too.
Meanwhile, we keep waiting...