This one was a surprise. Cliff Lee left money and years on the table to return to the Phillies, who he helped to the World Series in 2009. It was a blow to the Yankees, who think they can simply swoop in and sign anyone they please, and to the Rangers, who play close to Lee's home in Arkansas. And since he's returning to a team he played for before, there are already photos of him in that uniform. He'll have to change his number, though -- he wore #34 in his first time around in Philly, but that number now belongs to Roy Halladay.
With Lee and Halladay, the Phillies will probably be installed as odds-on favorites to win the National League in 2011 -- although losing Jayson Werth does put a hole in their offense.
For those of you complaining that the Cubs have "only" signed Carlos Pena -- seriously, to paraphrase Lou Piniella: "what do you want them to do?" Just throw money at free agents no matter who they are or whether they can help the team or not? Most likely, if that happened, you'd wind up in a situation where several years down the line, you'd complain about an Alfonso Soriano type contract.
The Lee signing may have a domino effect -- this may make the Rangers and/or Yankees go after Matt Garza, who the Cubs are supposedly interested in. Or, more likely, both teams may make a run at Zack Greinke.
What about other Cubs needs? What about Kerry Wood, for example? At Ryan Dempster's fundraiser Friday night, he told Fred Mitchell of the Tribune he could see himself coming back to the Cubs. Wood said:
"There has been a lot of interest, but at this stage of my career it has to be the right fit for my family. We are raising our kids and making our permanent home in Chicago, so we'll see what happens."
On coming back to the Cubs: "Nothing is impossible. We'll see how things play out."
There have also been several rumors about Wood possibly playing for the White Sox but that appears to be off the table. When asked about signing with the Sox, Wood smiled and said we've talked about that before. Wood has told us several times over the years that he could never see himself putting on a White Sox uniform.
Sounds like he's interested. We know the Cubs could use a reliever like Wood, for many different reasons.
What else would you like to see the Cubs do? Try to be realistic.