It's about time the Cubs admitted that there are problems with Kerry Wood.
Once again, he left a game early with shoulder problems, this time after only three innings and 54 pitches, and if the Cubs continue to say nothing's wrong and just send him out there for his next start, two things are going to likely happen:
- They're going to lose, just like they did tonight, 7-5 to the Astros, a team that had scored only two runs in their previous thirty innings before tonight (both of them last night). And another thing -- was that about the weakest attempt at a ninth-inning comeback you've ever seen?
- They're going to risk more serious injury to Wood, who hasn't been right since early in spring training.
Chuck over at Ivy Chat and I have had a friendly little back-and-forth about Mark Prior's injury status, but this is way more serious.
Man, I wish the Cubs could have pulled the trigger on a Wood-for-Adam Dunn deal, as I posited a couple of days ago. I imagine Kerry's next stop will be the disabled list.
He looked bad from the very first pitch, walking Willy Taveras, and after three hits the Astros were ahead 3-0.
The Cubs briefly tied the game in the top of the fourth when Jason Dubois hit a two-run homer, batting for Wood.
Now, let me repeat that. Dubois hit a two-run homer, batting for Wood.
Do you think if I repeat it loud enough, maybe Dusty Baker will hear me? Dubois is now 9-for-26 with 3 HR and 9 RBI. Todd Hollandsworth, getting the bulk of the playing time, has nearly three times as many at-bats (68 after tonight), has only six RBI, and is hitting ninety points or so lower.
Baker says that players can have bad months. Sure, that's true. But why on Earth wouldn't you play the hot hand? This doesn't even speak to the fact that you'd have a stronger bench with Hollandsworth on it -- although, Dubois is now 3-for-5 as a pinch-hitter.
To make things even worse, today was my son Mark's first Park District baseball game. Why is that worse?
Because he's on the Cardinals. Oh, the horror. Oh, the shame. Came home the other day with a full Cardinals uniform, including cap.
What could be even worse than that?
Today, they played the CUBS.
At least that game ended in a 10-10 tie.
Back to the major league Cubs -- I think they have to disable Kerry, and that means Glendon Rusch in the starting rotation. Frankly, considering that Wood leaves this game with a 6.15 ERA, this isn't such a bad thing. Rusch did a terrific job filling in for both Wood and Prior last year, and I have absolute confidence that he will be able to do the same thing in 2005.
If this is indeed what happens, what the Cubs should do is call up another hitter to bolster the bench. They could have had Dave Hansen, who was with them in spring training. Oops! Hansen signed a minor league deal with Seattle two days ago.
So, the best choices would likely be Shane Halter, who the Cubs recently signed to a Triple-A contract. (Missed that one, didn't you?) Halter's a hacker whose main claim to fame was the game on October 1, 2000 in which he played all nine positions.
Or David Kelton, who has 18 RBI at Iowa, but doesn't seem to be able to hit major league pitching.
Or 2004 Spring Training Hall-of-Famer Scott McClain, who the Cubs re-signed this spring and who's hitting... well, he's hitting .190, and whose major league experience consists of 20 pretty poor at-bats for the 1998 Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Aw, forget it. You know as well as I do that if Wood is disabled, Jon Leicester will be recalled. But how about trying Jermaine Van Buren? He's got a great arm, but this year is his first time at Triple-A.
But Jim Hendry's got to do something. It's absolutely clear to me that something's terribly wrong with Kerry Wood.