Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cubs Land Lilly

According to Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, the Cubs have signed LHP Ted Lilly. The 30-year old pitcher inked a deal with the Cubs for 4 years/$40 million.

The day started out with the Cubs, Blue Jays and Yankees being in the running for the pitcher. As the day progressed, the Blue Jays fell out of the running when the Cubs firmed up their offer. Lilly apparently told the Yankees that if they would match the Cubs offer, he would prefer to pitch for them. However, the Yankees were only luke warm on Lilly, preferring to pursue Andy Pettitte.

Later in the afternoon, Pettitte announced through his agent that he would pitch in 2007, with the Yankees and Astros having the best shot at signing the southpaw. Upon hearing the news on Pettitte, the Yankees decided they would not match the Cubs offer for Lilly and he decided to sign with the Cubs.

Lilly was 15-13 with the Blue Jays last year and had a 4.31 ERA. He is known as a fly ball pitcher, which could be a problem in Wrigley Field, particularly when the wind is blowing out. Lilly also has a history of arm injuries and has never exceeded 200 innings pitched in a season. In 2004 he threw 197.1 innings for Toronto, the most innings he has pitched in a season at the major league level.

Lilly’s talent level would slot him in as a #3 pitcher in the rotation. At the moment, he slots in as a #2 for the Cubs pending further off-season moves.

Although I’m not a huge fan of Ted Lilly, I think Jim Hendry did what he could do to shore up the Cubs starting rotation. Hendry flirted with Jason Schmidt, but was eventually outbid by the Dodgers. He is also dealing with Gil Meche and is rumored to be involved in the bidding for Jeff Suppan. The Cubs do not figure to be players in the Barry Zito sweepstakes.

Lilly is just one piece of the puzzle and by himself doesn’t put the Cubs over the top. However, his addition does improve the starting rotation and allows Hendry to zero in on one more starting pitcher.


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