People have been writing about Kerry Wood’s rookie pitch counts for more than a decade now, so I’m not exactly breaking new ground here, but now that he’s retiring it’s worth noting again just how hard the Cubs and then-manager Jim Riggleman worked their 21-year-old phenom in 1998.
Wood made a total of 26 starts as a rookie and topped 100 pitches in 21 of them, including the following pitch counts: 133, 129, 128, 123, 123, 122, 122, 121, 118, 118, 117, 116, 115.
I can’t even imagine a 21-year-old stud prospect being allowed to come anywhere near that workload now and yet Wood did it just 14 seasons ago. He then blew out his elbow, missed the entire next season, and didn’t start a game after age 29.
Wood had a helluva career, but I’d love to go back in time and tell Riggleman to loosen the reins a bit just to see what could have been.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.
Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.
Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.
Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.