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Winter Meetings Loom, Cardinals Need a Bat, Absurd Lineups, Ted Lilly, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News, Chicago Cubs Rumors

Three years ago today, we were smack dab in the middle of the Winter Meetings, and I was staying up until all hours of the night track rumors about Jon Lester. Remember that pursuit? Remember how involved the Red Sox and Giants were, and how questionable it was that the Cubs could really land such a big-time star player coming off so many years of awfulness?


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I won’t say that the Lester signing was *THE* seminal moment in the Cubs’ current era, but it was definitely a welcomed change from missing out on preferred free agent targets who didn’t want to come be part of a rebuild.

This year’s Winter Meetings start tomorrow, and, although there probably isn’t a Jon Lester-caliber player on the Cubs’ radar (I don’t think they’re going to be aggressive pursuers of Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta, for example), there will certainly be plenty of rumors and activity. The Cubs may wind up landing Alex Cobb before the week is up, and they still have so many bullpen holes to fill.

  • Now that they’ve missed out on Giancarlo Stanton, where do the Cardinals turn next for a big bat? Well, we’ve heard about the Evan Longoria rumors, but they might just keep on talking to the Marlins:

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  • I enjoyed Jeff Passan’s post-mortem on Shohei Ohtani’s surprising decision to go with the Angels. An interesting bit of anonymous honesty: “While four executives chasing Ohtani this week said they would happily find at-bats for him this season, all four admitted that the likelihood of Ohtani remaining a two-way player over the long haul were small.” Which is a reminder that, in choosing an American League team, Ohtani has no guarantee of plate appearances beyond what the Angels elect to give him. It’s entirely possible that, over the course of the next six years, Ohtani would have seen far more plate appearances in the National League. I guess we’ll see. I very much hope the Angels give him a REAL shot to be a two-way player.
  • Former Cubs GM Jim Hendry is looking to link up at the Winter Meetings this year with the doctor who saved his life there 11 years ago (Cubs.com). Part of that story is the incredible and true anecdote about Hendry locking down the Ted Lilly contract while strapped to a gurney and headed for emergency surgery.

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  • Bonus fun fact about the signing: the four-year, $40 million deal was considered a huge overpay at the time for a good but not great 30-year-old pitcher, attributable largely to the Tribune Company’s desire to immediately turn the roster around and build up value for a sale. It looked like the price you pay when you’re absolutely determined to get a guy no matter the cost. HOWEVER, Lilly went on to be rather excellent for the Cubs, more than exceeding the value of the deal in its first three years. Clearly, the Cubs saw in him the ability to be much better than he’d yet shown. It makes me think just a little bit about last week’s Tyler Chatwood signing, and/or the possibility of an Alex Cobb signing this week.
  • If you missed it last night, a Cubs-Archer connection (obligatory). There is also reportedly interest in Kyle Schwarber coming out of Boston.
  • Miscellaneous thought: the Yankees could conceivably sign Manny Machado next offseason, given them a middle of the order that features Machado, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez. I’m reminded of the second half of 2004, when the Cardinals had Albert Pujols (171 wRC+), Jim Edmonds (168), Larry Walker (148), and Scott Rolen (159) all batting in sequence. Has there been a better foursome (by results) since then? Maybe so, but it’s not immediately coming to mind. The Astros this year, one of the best offenses in history, might be the closest: Jose Altuve (160), Carlos Correa (152), George Springer (140), and Marwin Gonzalez (144).

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  • Since I’m down the rabbit hole: want to know something INSANE about the Astros from 2017? Of their top 11 hitters by plate appearances, only one – Carlos Beltran – posted a wRC+ below 100.
  • This is just a cool and absurd visual:

  • Fun times:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.