Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Kerry Wood Deal Shifts Focus to Indians Backups

Given free agent Kerry Wood's history of chronic injuries -- his $20.5 million two-year agreement to become the Indians closer tends to magnify the importance of backups Jensen Lewis, Adam Miller and others.

To some, former Angels free agent Francisco Rodriguez might have seemed a better value when he signed with the Mets at $37 million for three years, but the Indians were content to take Wood, perhaps because their bullpen has plenty of insurance.

Lewis was 13-0 in save situations near the end of last year, and Miller is throwing nearly in triple figures in winter ball, Cleveland Plain Dealer baseball writer Paul Hoynes recently reported.

Former closer candidate Rafael Betancourt is on board, as is left-handed strikeout specialist Rafael Perez, former Mets setup man Joe Smith and highly regarded, potential swingman Masa Kobayashi.