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The Tigers and Kerry Wood


A lot of the focus on here when it comes to a Cubs player is on Matt Garza, and rightfully so, Garza is a big time pitcher. To this point however, it has kind of been under the radar that Cubs reliever Kerry Wood is actually on the market. I think a lot of people have been under the assumption that he was just going to re-sign with the Cubs. Now it appears that Wood is going to be moving on from the Cubs, and of course, word is, the Detroit Tigers are in the mix for Wood.

I think the question that needs to be answered is, is there a need for Kerry Wood on the Detroit Tigers? I think that can be answered with a hesitant yes.

Wood isn’t a necessity for the Tigers as much as he would be a luxury. Personally, I am not convinced that the Tigers bullpen is all that impressive when you get beyond Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit. There are a lot of question marks in the innings before the 8th and 9th. The Tigers tried to address those questions and did sign veteran Octavio Dotel for some depth earlier in the off-season, but his advanced age makes him a little questionable. Colin Balester isn’t somebody the Tigers can count on, though he will get every opportunity to make the team. David Pauley has questionable stuff, and even though he excelled in Seattle, can he perform elsewhere?His stint in Detroit did little to convince people.

Basically, adding Kerry Wood to the Tigers bullpen would be adding some depth and experience.

Wood, who has been plagued with some injuries throughout his career, has been relatively healthy of late. I don’t think there is any doubt that him turning into a reliever is helping that. Last season, he pitched well for the Cubs, appearing in 55 games and posting an ERA of 3.35. Wood isn’t ever going to be someone who displays outstanding command, but he can still bring the fastball with some hair on it, and generate swings and misses with his hammer curve. His K rate is still outstanding at 10/9, and if he can keep his walk rate under 5 batters per 9 innings, his career suggests that he will have a good season.

But what is that worth on the free agent market?

That’s the real question. Relief pitching is definitely becoming a bigger part of the game today, and while you have to spend a little bit on it, the Tigers have put quite a bit of resources to the pen already. Looking at the contract the Tigers just gave Dotel, the framework for a contract is likely to start there. Dotel’s and Wood’s career numbers are eerily similar. There numbers in regards to WHIP, ERA, K/9, and BB/9 are so close, it is almost the same pitcher. The advantage that Wood may have in negotiations is his age. He is 4 years younger than Dotel, so the 2nd year could be guaranteed instead of an option.

A similar contract to Dotel would put Wood in the 3.5M to 4M dollar range for 2012. With Valverde, Benoit, and Dotel already making around 17M+ between them, adding another 4M dollars put this into an overly expensive bullpen territory. I think this might make the Tigers shy away a little bit.

Performance wise, Wood can help the Tigers. I don’t think there is much question about that. As a fan, since it isn’t my money, I would be all for signing Wood, but I am not managing the assets. Given that relievers can literally come out of nowhere to have some success, a 25M dollar bullpen seems excessive.

Especially when it appears there is a lot of interest in that other Cub.