It's official. Ted Lilly has signed with the Chicago Cubs. As much as I felt comfortable with Justin Speier (now an Angel) coming into the game, and as much as I loved the spunk of Frank Catalanatto (now a Ranger), this is the biggest blow to the team so far this off-season. Lilly won a career high 15 games in 2006 and was an All-Star in 2004. He improved each of his four years in Toronto and is now leaving it behind. I would have felt bad if the team had signed Frank Thomas for $9 million a year, but couldn't afford Lilly. But it apparently wasn't about the money. He felt it was time to move on. At least it wasn't to the Yankees.
I feel confident in the top 3 starters: Halladay, Burnett and Chacin. JP Ricciardi was in the hunt for not only Lilly, but Mariner free-agent Gil Meche as well. That would've given the team potential for 15 wins with each starter, but that's not to be. And who says the Jays are going to be able to overpay for Meche? If they lose both pitchers, it will start to look as if Josh Towers and Shaun Marcum will round out the rotation, which will put the season on shaky ground before it even starts.
Frank Thomas was a flashy addition, but only time will tell how smart an addition it is. He had a great year last year, and this gives the team a hitter that finished third in MVP voting and a pitcher that finished third in Cy Young voting (Halladay). But Halladay only takes the field once every five days and Thomas only takes the field once every nine at-bats. It also makes righties predominate in the lineup. Lyle Overbay will be the only lefty regular, and Zaun switch-hits.
I'm comfortable with Royce Clayton at short, especially with the added offense of Thomas. Hopefully, this will shore up the infield defense. John McDonald is apparently ready to re-sign as well as the backup infielder if Hill, Clayton or Glaus need a day off.
Bengie Molina is reportedly poised to sign with the Giants.
This is how I see the lineup breaking down:
Reed Johnson (LF)
Alex Rios (RF)
Vernon Wells (CF)
Frank Thomas (DH)
Troy Glaus (3B)
Lyle Overbay (1B)
Aaron Hill (2B)
Gregg Zaun (C)
Royce Clayton (SS)
Late notes: The Jays signed Matt Stairs to a one-year deal as the fourth outfielder. And Gil Meche signed with the KC Royals for five years, reportedly worth $11 million per year. Wow.
Only 116 days till Opening Day.