Travis Wood fits the Cubs plan to a tee -- so is he a core player?

Let me start off by saying it's May 14th and there is a lot of baseball left to be played -- but even still there is no question to me that LHP Travis Wood has taken a step forward in his development.

With that caveat out of the way, the question needs to be asked:  Is Travis Wood the kind of guy you want for the long term?

I've made it no secret that I'm a big fan of Travis Wood.  He is the kind of pitcher I like in that he has solid stuff across the board and he is athletic -- and in Wood's case, his athleticism for a pitcher is well above average, rivaling that of fellow Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. You'll probably note that I relentlessly talk about that as a trait I like in pitchers because athletic players tend to be able to repeat their actions better.  In the case of Wood, we're talking about his delivery, and when a pitcher can repeat his delivery, we should start to see consistent plus command over time.

Wood's walk rate of 2.87 per 9 innings is about what it always has been.  The difference has been in the quality of strikes he has thrown this year.  Last year, especially early in the season, Wood would locate some of those strikes too high in the zone.  And while his stuff is solid, there is no way he can get away with that consistently -- and the results reflected that.   Wood was  prone to the long ball last year.   This year he has learned to consistently locate the ball lower in the strike zone.  He has cut his HR rate down from 1.44 HRs per 9 IP to 0.68/9 IP. The improvement is also noted in his increased GB rate, from 34% last year to 40% so far this season.

There are some numbers which indicate that Wood cannot sustain this level of performance in the long term.  He has a strand rate of 83%, which is higher than his normal standard of about 72%.  His strikeout rate is also down from 6.84 last season to about 6.08/9 IP this the season.  The two numbers are also reflected in his FIP of 3.65, which is significantly higher than his 2.03 ERA.  His xFIP, which normalizes for HR rate, is even higher at 4.14%.

So should we expect regression?  Of course.  However, I don't think the regression will be as steep as those numbers indicate and here's why...

While many of us focus on results, the front office has steadfastly emphasized process.  They had an idea of how they were going to construct this team to succeed in the long run and some of it is exemplified in the Travis Wood case.

The thinking behind the Wood acquisition, other than obvious factors like age and cost control, is that athleticism and potential for plus command.  The approach for Wood was then to attack the lower part of the zone with consistency, which results in more contact -- but it's more groundball contact.  Wood keeps the ball in the park and in the infield.  But that's only the first part of the equation. To back up that kind of approach, the Cubs have provided their pitchers with one of the best defensive infields in baseball.  You won't find many teams with the kind of range and consistency as you will with the quartet of Luis Valbuena (or Cody Ransom), Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, and Anthony Rizzo.

This is why I'm not worried about significant regression.  The Cubs have designed the team so that it's pitcher can consistently outperform their FIPs.  Remember that FIP measures how your  pitcher would perform with an average defense.  If you provide that pitcher with an above average defense -- particular in his areas of strength --and he is able to take advantage of it with his pitch location, then we should absolutely expect him to outpitch those FIP numbers.

That's the whole idea.

So, to me, Wood is a core player because, not only is he just entering his peak performance seasons, but  he fits perfectly into that particular part of the  Cubs construction plans -- that is,  keep the ball in the park and keep the ball on the ground.  It's a plan, which not so coincidentally, should play pretty well in Wrigley Field in time and is already starting to bear fruit with Wood this season.

Of course, when you're talking core player, you're talking about locking up players long term and I think that's what the Cubs should do with Wood.  I believe he'll be an integral part of the rotation for years to come.   I don't know at this point if the Cubs agree, but I suspect that even if they do, they will likely wait until he regresses a little before they talk extension, which is just smart business.

It's also smart business to pay now for projected future performance and keep the players who fit your long term plans for the team.

What do you think?


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  • Agree 100%. What kind of years/dollars do you think they'd be discussing right now?

  • In reply to NUcat:

    I think the Cubs would be buying high on Wood right now, so they should probably wait. Ultimately I'd like to see a 6 year deal at perhaps $5-6M avg. per year. I think he's going to be an above average pitcher for the Cubs, which is about a 2.5 WAR guy or so (though I think that WAR understates his value if he outpitches his FIP, as I expect).

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    I was saying on here Travis was going to end up a core player when we acquired him and in sting training even with the struggles and got laughed at :) but I understand that most Cubs fans are skeptical(can you blame them) and want to see results first.

    Is he going to be an ace? No. But he can be a mainstay in our rotation for years. And the best part is we got him for a year of Marshall(who we flawlessly replaced with Russell). This cubs FO know their stuff.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Yes, I think we also have to be careful about thinking that core player means all-star level player. It can, but sometimes good to have a guy who just provides you with surplus value. Having a cheap and productive #4 type starter allows you to channel money to other areas.

  • At the very least Wood's name needs to be removed from any conversation about who the Cubs might trade at the deadlines if they're out of contention.

  • Yep. A big part of that is because what would you want in order to deal him? He's already a 3/4 that's cost controlled for the next 3.5 years. You'd need to give me a top pitching prospect in all of baseball for me to even start that conversation. More than likely, they'll offer a couple of guys who are 3/4s IF they pan out. Just doesn't make sense from the Cubs standpoint.

    Now, in terms of an extension, if you can buy out a year of his FA at $7M and get 2 options on the next 2 around $10M and fill in the arb years with numbers between $2M and $6M. I'd say do it yesterday. So give him a 4 year, $17.5M extension with club options at $10 for the next 2 years. So a potential 6 year, $37.5M contract.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    About what I was thinking Tulane. I like the breakdown.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I mentioned this in another thread. How about 3/$15M with two option years at $7.5M per year? That would take him to his age 32 season and could net him $30M - with the opportunity to sign another 3-4 year deal if he performs. Plus, he is guaranteed $15M regardless.

  • I agree. At present time he provides great value to the Cubs. He may not in 3 years, especially if he's not extended to a team friendly deal.

    That said. Wood is the type of pitcher to me that will be good well into his 30s.

  • I love Wood's woodsy look. If he is a possible core pitcher it might be wise for Sveum to stop using him as a pinch runner since it exposes him to injury. We don't need Wood involved in collisions at the plate trying to score the tying run. (Although Lilly smashing Cards catcher Yadier Molina was one of the top Cubs highlights of the Pinella era).

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    His BABIP this year is .189. I get that he is a ground ball pitcher, so something less than .300 is expected.....but .189 is damn lucky.

    Is Wood the second coming of Tom Glavine? No, he is not. His ceiling, IMO, is Ted Lilly.

    So, I like him, but he's a 3/4 IMO

  • Wood has the consistency you love to see out of 3-4 starter (basically what we expected to see from Jackson).

    Unless the cubs find a team in contention that is willing to give up some top pitching prospects, sign him up now.

  • In reply to itsmerossw:

    Yes, agreed. Always exceptions if a team is willing to pay big.

    It would have to be a better prospect than Vizcaino, who the Cubs got for an older, less cost-controlled Maholm. And Vizcaino is considered a 2-3 guy if healthy and was top 100 at time of trade. And they'd have to get a second guy in a team's top 10. I don't think they'll get that.

  • A comment from a previous posting cited Bosio as deserving credit. What are your thoughts regarding his influence on Wood specifically and on the staff as a hole?

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    I wouldn't go so far as calling the pitching staff a hole.

  • Busted...........I shouldn't text drunk I suppose

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    No problem. Drunk before noon? I'm envious!

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    I like the staff and I think it's one you can contend with, especially with Garza in it.

    As for Bosio, I'm a big fan. He has a simple approach, more aggressive in the lower part of the strike zone. He only tinkers with minor things instead of overhauling. We have to remember pitchers have been successful to some degree to make it this far. They don't need to be re-invented. I like that the small things he does, such as trying new grips.

  • It might just be semantics, but I don't think Wood is a core player. I think signing him to a long term deal at the end of the season is a good idea though (assuming he finishes in decent fashion). He has real value, but we can use that value in a number of ways, and don't have to peg ourselves into the hole of building the team around a #4 starter.

  • In reply to MrBillySir:

    Semantics to me as well -- I think core players are guys who provide you good long term value on and off the field. Not everyone is going to be a star, but if you get a consistent 200 innings and a 3.50 -3.75 ERA from a pitcher, that's a guy I want around -- especially if he isn't making a ton of money. You can use that saved money to fortify other needs.

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    We can get into semantics of exactly what constitutes "core," but in Wood we're looking at a guy who is cost controlled and I have a very hard time imagining the Cubs finding 5 pitchers better then him, even given a regression. So, he's very valuable to the team. Maybe we can't lock him into a team friendly deal right now, but we can ride the wave as far as it takes us.

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    I've seen Wood pitch in person twice this year (first series of the year in Pittsburgh and last night), and came away both times impressed with his ability to keep hitters off-balance. He doesn't strike out a ton of guys, but he seems to get a TON of pop-ups, which are almost as good (maybe someone can look up those numbers?). He's way outperforming his stuff and his peripherals right now, but I see no reason he can't be a very useful 4/5 guy for the long term. I'm a little concerned by stamina--he clearly tired in the 7th last night--but he seems to be a good athlete (he certainly runs well), and the bar is fairly low for what's a useful back-end starter in the majors. I'd like to see the team lock him up.

  • In reply to Sandy Johnston:

    Agreed on all counts, Sandy.

  • So should we try to lock up all three of Wood, Garza and Shark? We already have Jackson locked up for 4 years.

  • In reply to John57:

    I'd say yes, why not? There aren't any upper level guys in the pipeline. Best guys are hurt or in low A ball

  • In reply to John57:

    Thinking about it I will answer my own question. I think we should lock up Travis first because his cost will be lower and create more value for the team. Right now Travis is outperforming the other two and may have similar results long term. A lower contract with Travis might help lower the amount the other two guys agree to creating more value. So my conclusion is I would lock all three up. The price of pitching is going through the roof and this would put the Cubs in a good positon.

  • In reply to John57:

    Sure. At what cost though? Ideally, the extensions would be 'trade-able' in the event we have some guys in the minors that become ready. Wood's eventual extension will almost certainly be trade-able. Sharks, potentially - though given his resistance it might be somewhat high-dollar. Any Garza extension will likely be near market-rate, so it will be difficult to get much value back in a trade. Garza could surprise if he settles for well below market. If I'm Theo and think Garza will be able to overcome these smaller injuries, I'm offering 3/$35 with a few option years at $12M per.

  • In reply to John57:

    That's a good question. Let's say Wood's a "good team" 5. Then you have what, Garza a good team 3 and Shark a good team 2? Call EJax a good team 4.

    With this pitching staff, if you add an ace, do you have a World Series pitching staff?

    ...Actually, probably.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Which is why I think it's worth it to give up a lot in prospects to get David Price. If the Cubs retain Almora, Soler, Vizcaino, Candelario, and one of Pierce Johnson/Dillon Maples, I'd trade the Rays anything they wanted. Baez, Underwood, Johnson/Maples, Vogelbach and Lake/Alcantara has got to be a conversation starter.

  • I don't consider Wood a core player quite yet, but he's certainly trending in that direction. I need to see how he bounces back after a big inning or a poor start or two a few times before I'd consider him a core player.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    I agree there. Need to give it some time before considering an extension. I think Wood will eventually come down to earth -- but I think even that level will be a guy worth keeping.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I like Wood a lot, for his pitching, his pinch-running (please don't get hurt), and for the value we got in the trade for Marshall.
    I would sign him up. Good lefties are hard to find.
    But one way he might come down to earth is more HRs. Some of those fly-ball outs will clear the fence once the air gets warmer.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    HRs could increase but he's had success limiting them before and in the minors. In some ways I think last year was an outlier as far as HRs.

  • I've liked Wood since the signing. As long as he's able to keep the ball down, he's been very effective. And I think Lilly comparison is an apt one. A steady lefty starter, even if he is not a 1 or 2, is a core player, in my view.

  • In reply to Denizen Kane:

    I think he can have better command than Lilly -- but hey, I'll take a young, cost-controlled guy with Ted Lilly type production any day.

  • Apologies in advance because this is a cop-out, but to me, it depends. I'm not extending Wood now when the peripherals say his surface results have been better than the underlying skills. Wait until the offseason and see whether other teams come calling. Someone will be desparate for SP and the Cubs are open for business. If they can get a truly special prospect for Wood, I think that's worth the bust possibility.

    Also, the numbers you quoted remind me of another pitcher on the roster, namely Scott Baker. Baker's a good pitcher and he's both RH and hurt, but I just don't think the Cubs need to lock in Wood when his got a good, but not special skillset and isn't close to free agency. My two cents.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I can see that. Wood's skill set isn't really special -- except for his athleticism which is very special. That, in turn, can lead to command that is special. If so, then that would be a unique skill in terms of a pitcher. If Wood develops plus-plus command -- and he's not there yet by any means -- then I think you'll have a guy who consistently outperforms his stuff and his peripherals. If he develops plus-plus command, however, you won't be able to sign him cheap anymore.

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    If the Cubs locked up Wood and Garza to team friendly deals, their rotation would be pretty good. A rotation of Garza, Shark, Wood, Jackson and Gray/Appel next season. Is that a rotation you can go into the playoffs with, and come out with a ring?

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    I think so. Especially if Appel or Gray turn out to the kind of stud many think they can be.

  • It's funny. Only a year ago, the forecast for the Cubs was that the lineup would be ready to contend by 2014, in the best-case scenario, but that the rotation would take a little longer. But with the development of Samardzija and Wood, plus the acquisitions of Jackson and Vizcaino, as well as the upcoming selection of either Gray or Appel, it looks like our pitching staff will be ready to contend by 2014, while the lineup looks like it's at least a year away, if not two. Given how suddenly the staff has come together, maybe it's not unrealistic to hope that the FO may also use this summer's trade chips (esp. Feldman and Villanueva) and a few prospects to acquire position players that will have the lineup ready to compete in 2014. Because it would really be a shame next year if we're still losing games by 1-0, or 2-1, because of our inept offense. In fact, next season's rotation may be so good that we'd need only a top 15 lineup to be in the playoff race.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Good points Taft. I really feel like we can be a couple of bats away here. Maybe get some short term help until any of the prospects make it up here.

  • i really like the idea of signing wood long term. hes a lefty and ideally in any good rotation you have at least one lefty to mix things up a lil bit.

    i think a six year deal makes a ton of sense.

    i know many people aren't very fond of the edwin jackson signing, especially right now, but if the cubs lockup wood for 5-6mil a year then we'll have jackson and wood for about 18mil a year. add in a samardzija extension, which probably will end up being about 15mil per year and and thats 33mil a year for 60% of the rotation. that leaves plenty of money to spend around the diamond and in the bullpen.

  • Jorge Soler has been named the Florida State League's player of the week.

  • John, I like your point on the Cubs defense helping pitchers outperform their FIP.

    But I am still not sold that makes Wood as core piece. To me Wood's peripherals indicate he something like an average pitcher who seems a little better because the defense around him. But the defense needs to be viewed as relative. In other words, a better pitcher, with a lower FIP, would still get the same (or most of the same) benefits.

    Anyway, Wood strikes me as player like Barney. A replaceable player you slot in around the core. He has value, and is a good piece to have while he's cheap, but something you trade or let go when his price goes up.

  • In reply to CubsML:

    Maybe so, but not necessarily. I think what you do is you construct a team from a more global view the way the Cubs are doing. I think if you get locked into things like FIP as having constant value without regard to context, you'll make a lot of mistakes. You'll get pitchers who under-perform compared to FIP instead. The key here is whether a guy fits your overall blueprint, and I think Wood does. You can either keep him or look for someone like him and hope he's cheap and can generate similar results. Seems to me it's just easier to keep him if you get him at good value. Which is why we're talking about extending. If he takes the route of arb and then free agency and gets increasingly expensive, that's a different story, but that's not what I'm saying. I'm talking about extending that window where he does provide value to your team with the right deal.

    And I think you should be careful at labeling guys as commonplace or replaceable. I don't think it's always that cut and dry.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I see what you're saying. When I think of core pieces I think of the Blackhawks. Toews-Kane-Hossa-Sharp-Keith-Seabrook are the core. The rest of interchangeable/replaceable parts. Some years the young guys will be good, like Saad and some years the young guys will be blah, like Smith or Bickel.

    To me Wood is, at best, a Dave Bolland. A great bottom half of the roster guy, especially in his cheap arbitration years. But once they hit their free agency years some team will over pay them to take on a bigger role than they really can handle. In the meantime, hopefully the Cubs and Hawks will have someone in the minors waiting in the wings who can take over.

    Perhaps you're right, that's easier said than done. But that's what successful teams do. And I think that's what Theo and Jed have outlined in their vision for the franchise.

  • In reply to CubsML:

    No, that's what small market teams do and very few are successful, though we like to put them on a pedestal when they do succeed. The truth is most successful teams don't have that type of turnover year after year. They retain their good players because they can.

    I can assure you that Theo and Jed aren't looking to run this franchise like a small market team that scrapes for value rather than retaining good players. They intend to run this like a big market team. Somewhere along the line people seem to have forgotten that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Very good point. I hope you're right. And I Wood is good enough to justify making the commitment you advocate.

    I suppose I am too hung up on the semantics of "core player".

  • In reply to CubsML:

    And hockey has a salary cap. Apples and oranges. If the Hawks could have retained some of those players, they would have.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One more thought, I am not sure I'd rush into giving a multi-year deal to any pitcher. Especially a non-elite one, and one that I control for another 3 years anyway.

  • In reply to CubsML:

    Who said anything about rushing? In fact, we've pretty much said the opposite.

  • I don't like a rotation of all power pitchers. Often they get tired or injured especially at the end of a pennant race.

  • I think we need to be careful before extending him. Randy Wells had a long stretch of good starts too but I'm glad we didn't extend him. Something to look at the end of the year, not right away.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I think Wood has better body of work already and he's lefty but point taken.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    It was Randy's penchant for hitting the clubs that caused his erratic play. Granted he had limited upside (as does Wood so I see the similarity) but that just means he has to work harder than those with more talent or better pure stuff. Gracie is a good example of somebody that managed to get by for years whole burning the candle at both ends so to speak.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I don't think the Cubs should do it right away either for many reasons. But I think you have to get to the point where you start considering whether he's a guy you want around when the team is competing.

  • I also have this thing for both LH hitting and pitching.

  • I'm a big fan of Woods, provided he's our #4/5 starter. He had a great streak of quality starts last year when they called him up but then the wheels sort of fell off by summer. So like you said, there'll be some regression, but I think he's developed more consistency which IMO, does make him a core piece. Let's face it, we need 6-7 quality starters to to play competitively for 180 games (gotta count the postseason) in a season.

    John, correct me if I'm wrong; but wasn't the acquisition of Latos what made Wood expendable? If so, that trade really helped us because that deal is what also made Rizzo available.... Either way, we can say the Wood/Marshall trade helped both teams (and it did); but we really made out by getting 5yrs of a SP, plus Sappelt & Torres for 1yr of Marshall. Russell has replaced Marshall seamlessly.... How many more times can we do this with all of our LHP's in AA/AAA?.....

  • I think Phil Rogers is a big fan of Cubs Den, I think he just stole your story basically from the other day lol...

    ---By Phil Rogers, Tribune reporter
    1:51 p.m. CDT, May 14, 2013

    The Chicago Cubs again will be one of the most aggressive teams in signing international talent when the 2013 signing period opens on July 2.

    Baseball America’s Ben Badler projects them as frontrunners for the top players in both the Dominican Republic – outfielder Eloy Jimenez – and Venezuela – shortstop Gleyber Torres.

    The Cubs are second to Houston with a $4.6 million bonus pool. Badler projects that the Cubs could gain some budget by trading for pool space, which is now allowable.

    Badler lists Jimenez and Torres first and second, respectively, among the top 10 international prospects available, most of whom are 16. He likens the 6-foot-4 Jimenez to Royals outfielder Elier Hernandez, who signed with Kansas City for $3 million in 2011, and cites "a quick bat and a swing path that results more in hard line drives than loft power."

    Badler says the Cubs are frontrunners to sign the 5-foot-11 Torres, whom scouts see as "a right-handed hitter who can stay at shortstop with good hands, a strong arm and the ability to hit in games with projectable power that’s surprising for his size."

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    Ha! I think Rogers reads us once in awhile, just a hunch. But he also contributes to BA, so I'll say that could have been why he wrote about that.

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    Anthoer thought here (you have *lots* of them while doing mind-numbing work in the archives): It may not pay to extend him beyond his arb years. If he's our 4th best pitcher (Grappel, Shark, Garza, at least), he might contribute more by walking after turning down a qualifying offer and bringing in another draft choice. The hope is that by that time our minor league system is producing players who can fill in acceptably at the back of the rotation on a regular basis.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    True, but wouldn't extending him to a team friendly deal make his value even higher if we decided to move him for prospects in 2015 when the first "wave" arrives?

  • For me he needs to prove himself just a bit more. The reason I'm still reluctant is that his recent success seems less projectable long term, than say a power pitcher. If we're talking about a Samardzija, he has so much good stuff that we can feel more confident in trying to predict success. If Wood is going to have to rely more heavily on command I want to see him do it a little longer before I'm ready to call him a "core piece". That, coupled with the fortunate peripherals this season make me hold back my excitement just a tad.
    However, reading your scouting of his pitching, John, does make me a little more confident that it could last. Very compelling piece. Great job!

  • To me it always makes the game more fun when you can watch a pitcher hit for himself, pinch run, etc. I dug Jason Marquis in 07 for that reason. Sign Wood up!

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    Exactly! That's why the N.L. needs to stay away from the D.H.

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    There's that aspect as well. I don't know if there's been a Cubs pitcher that;s helped himself off the mound more than Wood since Greg Maddux.

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    I'm on night shift right now. I just got up, or I would have chimed in earlier. To answer the poll question, I'm going to pick the middle ground, which wasn't a choice btw, and say he is somewhere in between.

    Travis Wood represents, at least to me, a young Ted Lilly. They're even about the same height and build with similar stuff, though I think Lilly's stuff was better. Both are 1's in Houston's rotation, 2's in a poor rotation, 3's in an average rotation, 4's in a good rotation and 5's in a great rotation, and a rotation that has a Wood or Lilly in his prime as a 4 or 5 is a rotation that is capable of winning a World Series.

    One thing his numbers bare out is that he is throwing his fastball and curve ball less often than his career averages, and he is throwing his cutter and slider more often. His percentage of ground balls versus fly balls is also up, and with a better defense behind him, this is being reflected in his more popular numbers.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I think Lilly may have had better stuff -- definitely a better breaking ball, but I like Wood's potential to have plus or even plus-plus command, which Lilly didn't really have. Either way, I think the bottom line production can be very similar

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Lilly definitely had better stuff, and I think I said that above, but they are somewhat similar.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I know, I was agreeing with you.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I also think what I stated above will hold true. If Wood is your fourth or fifth stater, you have a WS caliber rotation.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Put down the Kool Aid.......better off, just shut off your computer and walk away.......just walk away.

  • It's still early, but to those of us that picked Travis as the breakout player this year, you're looking good so far.

    I picked him as a player that would emerge as a core piece before the season, so I can't back off now. I believe he will regress, but a cost-controlled, 26 year old, lefty who can maintain a WHIP around 1.2 and has the athleticism to continually refine his command, I think is worthy of locking up until he's 31 if it's a moderately team-friendly deal.

    No need to do it now. Wait for the most advantageous time, but extending him should be in the plans.

    And a core player to me is just one you intend to have around 4-5 years. He doesn't have to be elite, but he does have to be above average for his position. If 4th or 5th starter is Wood's "position", he qualifies as above average.

  • Counting the days when we see an article where John ask the question "Is Michael Bowden a Core Player?"

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    "Is CubStalk a Core Contributor"?

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    Thanks for your contribution.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I'll save you some counting. That's not coming.

  • Anyone see Scott Baker these days?

  • If the all star game were tomorrow, Wood would be on the staff. How far has he come, last year at this time, he was at Iowa.

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    I can get behind Wood as a core player, but only if we follow through with trading Garza, Feldman, Wood, etc.

    The idea that if we just lock up a really good rotation, we become a contender is absurd. We have a pretty great rotation right now and we're pretty bad. In A LOT of areas.
    We don't have an outfielder that doesn't have a wild swing in their Right vs. Left splits. Our 2nd Baseman couldn't be worse with the bat if he held it at the wrong end, and (while Valbuena is decent) we have no answer for 3rd base.
    Our only pitching prospect is Pierce Johnson. Unless you count Maples, who despite being in his third pro year, just got into double digit in innings pitched.

    A 26 year old, reliability lefty is a great core piece. But this team still has a ways to go before we're legitimately ready to compete.
    Adding talent at all levels still needs to be priority #1.

    I like Wood. He's a nice player. Talent comparable to his is good, but we really need more talent like Rizzo/Castro/Shark.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    When the Cubs are good -- and I think that could be as soon as next year and certainly by 2015, they'll need all kinds of players and a relatively cheap in his prime lefty starter is a pretty good asset to have on your team. At that point I'd rather have Wood than another prospect in Class A.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I totally agree on Wood, I just wanted differentiate that I'm not OK with standing pat with our current staff. We have too little minor league talent and depth to be "ready".

  • OK Cub fans....without google....without going online....without grabbing various "literature"...who was the last LEFTY Cub starter to wear #37....(Before Travis Wood) ???

    Hint: Dick Ellsworth

  • No Cubs player has ingratiated himself more to me than Wood this year. I've seen all his starts this year and its not just his numbers that I've been impressed by. You can tell by his look and his body language that he feels like he's a good pitcher. You can see his confidence growing start by start. He's a gamer. You've mentioned the athleticism. He could probably play left field every day in the lower minors right now. To me he's definitely a guy the Cubs should lock up. A somewhat team friendly deal for 3rd starter money could pay off huge in the long run. Comparisons are somewhat dangerous and they are what they are, but I see a lot of similarities to Tom Glavine. Not saying he's the next Glavine but I think he's got a few sub-3 ERA years ahead of him. Maybe not this year but it looks like he may flirt with 3.25 or so. Point is that he's getting better he's a really safe bet to pay off really big!

  • I don't know if T.Wood is a core player, but I like what he's done since he's come over from Cincinnati.

    I wouldn't mind seeing him fill in the #4 or #5 slot in the rotation, but I would be hesitant to lock him down for more than 3 years. Pitchers are at a greater risk for injury, and I'd hate to be saddled with a guy who has to miss significant time due to injury.

    I'm not saying I'd never sign a pitcher to a big deal (money and/or money), but I'd certainly do a fair amount of homework on a guy before committing.

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    What Is your opinion, providing we lock up Wood and Garza, of using Shark as a big trade chip. I don't see him as an ace. He is cost controlled but doesn't want to talk about an extension. The guy got a big payday coming out of college, only to suck for a few years, and to me it seem like he is expecting a huge payday again. If someone would overpay for him... would you do it?

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    In reply to Nick Johnson:

    I didn't think he was a #1 before this season but he's won me over. He's #3 in the NL in strikeouts, and that's considering he's due up tomorrow.

    What exactly can we gain by signing a #3 and a #5 and getting rid of a #1?

    Not to mention, he doesn't really have that much cost control. He's got two years of arbitration, but if he throws 200+ strikeouts, what will he sign for?

  • In reply to Nick Johnson:

    I think the Cubs should re-sign Shark if they can. Not easy to find pitchers with that kind of stuff who are still in their prime.

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    Those strikeouts lead to high pitch counts and him being out of the game by the 5-6th inning. He has a 3.80 ERA as a starter. He reminds me of Carlos Zambrono but without head case stuff. I just don't see him being much better then a 3.75 era pitcher ever, and I believe he will want to get overpaid or he'd already would've signed (or at least talking) an extension He' be 29 before next season starts. an 31 when he Is a free agent. Is he worth a huge contract.... I don't know.

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