"Wood, Jerry. Wood!"
You know, when you add it all up, the Indians, as we know them today, just don’t sign guys like Kerry Wood.
Ever since the glory days of free-spending at The Jake came to a close earlier this decade, Cleveland has become a place for the Paul Byrds and Jorge Julios of the free-agent world.
Wood would be — and, again, I feel confident in saying he will be — a sexy signing, for lack of a better term. Yes, his injury history is extensive (you make those kind of trade-offs in this market), but he is that traditional, shutdown type of closer that the Indians haven’t had since Jose Mesa.
The Indians invent closers; they don’t sign them. So this Wood signing, which should become officially official in the next few days, is significant. And I think there are several reasons it’s coming together in the Tribe’s favor:
1. It’s the economy, stupid: If your name isn’t CC Sabathia or Mark Teixeira, this is a brutal year to be a free agent. And if you’re a free-agent closer, you’re in double the trouble. That Francisco Rodriguez signing (three years, $37 million) seemed inconceivable just a few months ago. The guy saved 62 games last season, for crying out loud. No one — K-Rod, especially — figured he’d go for that kind of money (I recognize $37 million is not chump change, but, a year ago, 62 saves would have bought him a lot more than that). Now that he has, that next tier of Wood and Brian Fuentes will take its hit, too.
2. Goodyear is good: Wood might be a Texas boy at heart, but he calls Scottsdale, Ariz., his home in the offseason. I guarantee you the Indians would have been a much less attractive candidate for his services had they not made the jump from Winter Haven to Goodyear this year.
3. Wear your Bere: This is more of a speculative matter, but I have it on good authority that Wood is really good buddies with former pitcher Jason Bere, who is a special assistant to the Indians’ baseball operations department. Word of mouth is a powerful thing.
4. Call a medic: The Indians’ medical department is one of the most well-respected in the game. And Wood is, unfortunately, no stranger to the trainer’s room. So I wonder if that reputation for keeping guys on the field (Travis Hafner aside) preceded the Indians here.
Anyway, those are just some of the thoughts running around my head on this one. Feel free to share your thoughts below.