The Cubs made their first voyage into free agency land this off-season and it was with a familiar face. Kerry Wood has signed a one year deal worth 4.2 million with the possibility of nearly 8 million after incentives. Per reports from the Chicago Tribune Wood will remain in the bullpen - bumping incumbent closer Ryan Dempster to the rotation - and potentially be the opening day closer.
Obviously the success of said deal is dependent on whether Wood can stay healthy or not - stop me if you've heard that one before - but if somehow he does stay off the disabled list the Cubs might be looking at a key reliever for eight million this year. Let's look at his splits by role and venue:
Wood will be placed into the two situations that have given him the best performances - relieving at Wrigley - and since he's only averaged 128 innings per year since breaking into the league it's probably best that the Cubs limit the amount of pitches he throws, which of course goes back to the Dusty Baker days.
At 21 Wood broke onto the scene by striking out 20 in his fifth career start, the Wild Card winning Cubs would ride the youngster hard, and he'd respond - looking like a Roger Clemens clone while doing so. It's hard to say whether the workload would cause his soon to erupt injuries because both manager at the time Jim Riggleman and future manager Dusty Baker rode Wood extremely hard, but in route to the playoffs.
In 2003 the Cubs reached the NLCS and would eventually lose to the Marlins, but Wood would wrap up back to back 200 inning seasons while posting a career low 3.2 ERA. He'd throw more than 120 pitches in 13 of his 32 starts including a ridiculous 141 pitch performance against the hated Cardinals - in May.