Perhaps the riskiest move of Jim Hendry's offseason was the one he didn't make: re-signing Kerry Wood. The former phenom and fan favorite who recovered from numerous injuries and disappointments to lead his team from the bullpen in 2008 probably deserved a new contract. Hendry admitted as much, but said that the Cubs couldn't afford what Wood deserved, and so Kerry ended up taking a deal with the Cleveland Indians.
No question, it will be weird for any Cubs fan to see Wood in a different uniform. But fans feeling ashamed and overemotional about Wood's departure can look up: the Cubs themselves likely took it way harder. To wit:
''It's hard to let it go,'' Zambrano said. ''Woody was a big part of our team, our leadership, and we will miss him. He sent me a text message to Venezuela [after the Cubs let him go to free agency], and a tear came out when I saw that message.''
First, I didn't even know you could send text messages to Venezuela. That has to be super-expensive. (Those roaming charges are murder.)
Second, Carlos, while we understand your grief -- it's never fun to say goodbye to a friend -- at this point, it's time to move on. You have a new bullpen with talented pitchers in their own right, and you have a goal that you have to accomplish, lest your fanbase go utterly insane for yet another year. Neil Diamond wants you to dry your eyes and play baseball.
Perhaps the most interesting thing here is how totally Kerry Wood has repaired his image. Just two years ago, an offseason minus Wood would barely have registered; fans, and even players, were so used to his consistent disappointments and absences that he and Mark Prior, fellow former phenom, were basically written off. They were a bad memory.
Now that Wood has been a productive pitcher for an entire season, things are different, as well they should be. But it would be a far more comforting notion if Zambrano shed those tears after Cubs playoff losses, too. Let's hope so, anyway.
Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com.