Ted Lilly: Zambrano wants to help the Cubs

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Ted Lilly must have a great cell phone plan. Unlimited minutes to call anywhere, including Greater Crazyville, where he apparently reached Carlos Zambrano:

Ted Lilly became the first Cubs player to get through to Carlos Zambrano, saying the controversial pitcher wants to return to help the team in the second half of the season.

“I talked to Carlos (Monday) night and he wants to be back out here and he wants to help the team, and I believe that he’s going to do that,” Lilly told WGN-Ch. 9.

And my daughter believes the tooth fairy left that buck under her pillow last week. Beliefs are nice like that.  But just like that baby tooth falling out to make way for the permanent one, Carlos Zambrano stands as an excellent example of addition by subtraction.

Braves are targeting Dallas Keuchel

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LAS VEGAS — Let’s start our first weekday of the Winter Meetings with some rumors and speculation. We’ll have a good bit of that until, you know, something actually happens.

First up: Dallas Keuchel, the top free agent pitcher remaining on the market. Jon Heyman says the Braves, who are in the market for a starter, are targeting him. In this they are not alone, as the Phillies, who missed out on Patrick Corbin, and the Reds, who would like a pitcher who doesn’t allow a lot of fly balls are each reported to be focused on Keuchel as well. There was a random report that the Blue Jays were interested in him too, but that seems off to me given where they are on their rebuild.

Keuchel, who will turn 31 on New Year’s Day, was 12-11 in 34 starts last year, posting an ERA of 3.74 in 204.2 innings. His peripherals have declined fairly consistently since his Cy Young season in 2015, so the question is whether the team that signs him is paying for his past or for what he might reasonably be expected to provide in the future.