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Monday, March 26, 2012
Wood trade may bode well for the future

By Bruce Levine

Travis Wood
Travis Wood has not given up hope that he can ultimately justify the Cubs' trade.
MESA, Ariz. -- At first glance it appears the Cubs may have gotten the short end of the Sean Marshall-Travis Wood deal that sent one of the best set-up men in the game to the Reds for a promising left handed starter. Wood struggled this spring to the point where he most likely will begin the season at Triple-A Iowa, while Marshall may end up as Cincinnati's closer.

It's too early to say that the Wood deal was a mistake, but it's not too early to say that president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and company are not afraid to make a mistake in order to become a great organization in the future. The $16 million they saved on the Marshall trade may help them sign the next great Cub like Jorge Soler.

The new Cubs management team made a commitment to add depth to the starting pitching mix, and the deal for Wood was a key move in the offseason. Wood at the age of 25 was a gamble for the Cubs knowing that after a breakout season in 2010 when he had a 3.31 ERA, his 2011 season was a bust.

"This spring started off slow and it was a bad beginning with a new team," Wood said. "They gave up a great pitcher for me so I really wanted to make a good impression coming in to camp.

"I wanted to show them the trade was a good one and that I am 'The Guy.' I am still working toward that goal."

The early moves that Epstein and Jed Hoyer have made will be under scrutiny as they try to piece things together while building toward the future and trying to be competitive in 2012. Truth be told the real concentration is on signing young players through the June draft and in Latin America. The Cubs have signed four Cuban players and will go deep in the bidding for Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler when he becomes eligible to sign a major league contract.

Something else to keep in mind, don't bet against Wood showing up sometime in June or July and becoming the pitcher he was expected to be when the trade was consummated.

"I will go down and work on my stuff and try to be the pitcher I expect to be," he said.