When it Comes to Free Agency and Jon Lester, Waiting is the Hardest Part

Oh baby don’t it feel like heaven right now
Don’t it feel like somethin’ from a dream
Yeah I’ve never known nothing quite like this
Don’t it feel like tonight might never be again
We know better than to try and pretend
Baby no one could have ever told me ’bout this

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

Don’t let it kill you baby, don’t let it get to you
Don’t let ’em kill you baby, don’t let ’em get to you
I’ll be your breathin’ heart, I’ll be your cryin’ fool
Don’t let this go too far, don’t let it get to you

I’m guessing Tom Petty didn’t know it back in 1981, but he cut right to the core of what it is to be a Cubs fan right now.

Remember when it was really fun to guess at what free agents the Cubs would sign and how the rotation would fall in line to throw pitches that Russell Martin would do a masterful job framing? As free agency has ramped up though, that giddy anticipation has begun to curdle into a paranoid anxiety.

It’s like going to the dentist for routine cleaning, only to be told that you’ve got a cavity that needs to be filled. Alright, doc, no big deal. Let’s just go ahead and get it over with. Yeah, so, about that…can’t do it today. In fact, I might not have an opening tomorrow either. It’s looking more like two days from now. Maybe.

Argh! The Jon Lester rumors are bouncing back and forth like an Olympic ping-pong match, the sort of blink-and-you-might-miss-it speed of which is becoming nauseating. Couple that with the inherent neurosis — or is it neuralgia? — of Cubs fans and you’ve got a recipe for all kinds of fun.

So high-strung is the Twittersphere that a fat-fingered retweet of a fake Ken Rosenthal report receives dozens of chidings from those who were incorrectly made hopeful by its content. Some of the upbraiding came, understandably, from those who were offended by my flagrantly lackadaisical vetting of the tweets passing through my timeline.

If only I’d listened to Herm Edwards: Don’t press send!

What can I say, the Lester Fever had me in its clutches. And the worst part is that it doesn’t appear to be breaking anytime soon. The White Sox are stacking up players in what appears to be a made scramble to put together a darn fine ballclub that will boast arguably the best rotation in the majors next year.

In fact, our own Tommy Cook has offered to fight anyone who doesn’t believe that a group of Sale/Quintana/Shark/Rodon/<insert any SP here> is better than any other in at least the AL. You can reach him in the comments or on Twitter: @TommyECook. I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on engaging in fisticuffs over his claim.

But as the baseball world awaits news on Jon Lester, the Cubs are making some moves of their own. To wit, they re-acquired Jason Hammel, signing him to a two-year deal after renting him to the A’s for 5 months. So that’s pretty cool, right? Then again, it’s not even the best news regarding a former Cub who was traded to Oakland coming back to Chicago. *shakes fist*

Missing out on Russell Martin was perhaps a bit of a blow, but the Cubs aren’t about to sit back and let Welington Castillo carry the load by himself. That said, they have engaged in trade talks with the D-backs about…Miguel Montero? Admittedly, I’m not big on the guy and I’m not alone.

The court of public opinion seems to be heavily divided on Montero, with some praising his pitch-framing and bat vs. RHP while others decry the $40 million remaining of the three years of his deal and his utter lack of ability to hit lefties. But if the prospects the Cubs give up are nominal, is it really a big deal? I mean, it’s only money.

Famous last words.

There’s been action, to be sure, but nothing that compares to the hype and impact of the pursuit of Jon Lester. As the biggest name on the market, Lester stands as the first real domino to fall this offseason; his signing will set things in motion by giving a litter more clarity to the market. Even if he doesn’t go to the Cubs, I want this thing to be over with though. The suspense is starting to get to me.

Then again, that’s what you sign up for when your team finally puts its big-boy pants on again. If you want to be in the market for the top names in free agency, all of this anxiety part of the cost of doing business. To look at it another way, the worry means the Cubs are in the game in the first place and not just sitting on the sidelines.

But so help me, Jon Lester, if your drawn-out courtship interferes in any way with tonight’s Sons of Anarchy Last Ride, I’ll…well, I won’t do anything, but I’m gonna be really salty. And tired. Mostly tired.


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