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Wood (Blister) Back on DL; Perez to Close

Any efforts on the part of the Cleveland Indians to trade closer Kerry Wood got a little more difficult on Saturday, as the 33-year-old was placed on the DL with a finger blister. It’s the second time Wood has been sidelined this season, as the erstwhile Cub was shelved until early May with a strained right lat muscle in his back.

Since signing a two-year deal with the Tribe prior to 2009, Wood has earned around 15-$16 million while contributing 0.2 Wins Above Replacement. He was lights-out during his last season in Chicago (11.4 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 3.07 xFIP, 2.2 WAR), but Wood’s control has been mediocre in Cleveland — he’s got 9.7 K/9, 4.7 BB/9 and a 4.36 xFIP in 75 innings since transitioning to the AL.

There’s still a chance that he gets traded — Wood could be back before the July 31st deadline, and there’s always the possibility of an August waiver deal. If Wood passes through waivers unclaimed in August, the Indians would be free to trade him to any club. If Wood gets claimed, Cleveland could: A.) revoke the waiver request, B.) make a deal within two business days with the club making the claim or they could C.) let the claiming team take Wood and his salary for a twenty grand fee (thanks, Cots Baseball Contracts and MLBTradeRumors).

With Wood out, Chris Perez is expected to take what save chances the Indians get. The former Hurricane, picked up from the St. Louis Cardinals (along with RHP Jess Todd) in the July 2009 Mark DeRosa deal, is available in nearly four-fifths of Yahoo leagues. Perez’s gleaming ERA and past as a top 100 prospect might lead some to think he’s breaking out in a big way, but the 25-year-old righty remains a work in progress.

In the minors, Perez used his mid-90’s fastball and low-to-mid-80’s slider to rack up 12 strikeouts per nine innings. However, he also issued a whopping six walks per nine frames, leaving him with a good-not-great 3.86 FIP in 113.1 IP. The story has been much the same in 133 big league innings over the 2008-2010 seasons — Perez has punched out over a batter per inning (9.41 K/9), but he has handed out a free pass every other frame (4.53 BB/9). He has also been a fly ball-centric pitcher, getting grounders just 35.7% of the time and serving up 1.15 HR/9. Overall, Perez has a 4.44 FIP and a 4.38 xFIP, a performance that has been exactly replacement-level.

That’s not to say that Perez won’t fare better in the future, but his current 2.62 ERA is based mostly on a .236 BABIP, as opposed to some marked improvement on his part. Perez gets ninth inning responsibilities for now, and he could keep them if Wood is swapped before July 31st or in a later August deal. But, without a change in Perez’s peripheral stats, decline is likely — ZiPS projects 9.64 K/9, 4.82 BB/9, 1.29 HR/9 and a 4.44 FIP for the rest of 2010.