Kerry Wood is not off to a very good start in 2012. There's no denying that.
He has an 8.64 ERA and 2.28 WHIP in 9 appearances, has blown two saves and disposed of one glove.
Let's rewind a couple months, first, though.
In November and December, it seemed as if Wood returning to the Cubs was imminent. But a deal just never got done. Then, there was talk of interest from other teams, like the Tigers and Phillies.
And Cubs fans were upset at that. Understandably so. As a fanbase, we see Wood as ours. Even when he was on the Indians and Yankees, he was still a Cub.
Then, of course, the Cubs threw everybody a curveball when they announced Wood at the Convention in January. It was a great PR move and the fans went wild.
Now, in mid-May, it seems as if the fanbase has turned on "the new Mr. Cub."
Just about any time Wood comes into the game now, Twitter blows up with people uttering such lunacies as "he's finished" and "isn't it time for him to just retire?"
How did that happen so suddenly?
This is a guy who won't even turn 35 for another month. Sure, he's had a laundry list of elbow and shoulder problems in his career, so his right arm is much more advanced in years.
But last season, he had a 3.35 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, with 57 strikeouts in 51 innings. His 2.71 KBB ratio was his best mark since 2008.
Yet people think he suddenly lost the ability to pitch? Does talent disappear that fast?
Where were all these people saying "he's finished" and "it's time for him to retire" last season? Where were all these people back in December and early January?
How has that all changed after nine bad outings?
Wood only got five innings of work in during spring training and then was forced to the DL just two weeks into the season with shoulder fatigue. He didn't go on a rehab assignment before returning and subsequently gave up two runs in each of his first two appearances off the disabled list.
Since then, he's given up just one run in four innings, even if he has walked five guys in that span.
Why is everybody running so quickly to the fact that Wood is "finished"? Why is it suddenly that Wood lost his talent and can't pitch anymore rather than the fact that the shoulder injury and time off has affected his performance?
Wood isn't really getting hit around, but he is walking the world, with 11 free passes in 8.1 innings. His command is the issue, not his talent. It takes time for a pitcher to get his command, and with the missed time in both spring training and earlier this season, Wood hasn't had that opportunity to develop a good feel for his pitches. There's also talk that his arm slot is off, which is a mechanical issue.
Wood has been able to dial up his famous fastball into the mid-90s since returning from the DL, even touching 95 on occasion. Does that sound like a guy whose career is finished?
Now, I'm not saying Wood will return to his 2011 form and be dominant throughout the rest of this year. Especially considering shoulder injuries have a propensity to linger throughout a season.
And maybe the time is coming for Wood to be "finished" in a Cubs uniform or in MLB. But for a loyal fanbase to turn on the most popular player over the last decade, that just doesn't make sense to me. I don't see how that happened so quickly, especially in a season in which Cubs fans were not expecting their team to challenge for a playoff spot.