Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cubs Make Offer to Lilly

The Cubs have reportedly made an offer to FA pitcher Ted Lilly. The offer is reportedly for 4 years and $40 million. Southpaw Lilly pitched for the Blue Jays last year and is still coveted by his former team. The Yankees and Giants are also interested in Lilly, although the Yankees interest may have cooled since they won the bid to negotiate with Japanese LHP Kei Igawa.

Lilly was 15-13 with a 4.31 ERA in 2006 with Toronto. Lilly is known as a fly ball pitcher who is not an innings eater. He routinely hits the 100 pitch mark in the sixth inning and his effectiveness goes downhill fast from there. The bull pen better be ready to pitch on days Lilly starts.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not completely opposed to signing Lilly. The Cubs need pitching and Lilly is one of the few FA pitchers worth pursuing. But Jim Hendry is in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. The Cubs need two starting pitchers and there are very few FA pitchers worth pursuing. The market is demanding big dollar contracts, but I think most teams are reluctant to give what the market demands.

This reluctance even applies to Jason Schmidt, largely regarded as the most highly sought after FA pitcher on the market. Schmidt will likely demand $15 million per year or more for three or four years, but even he comes with large question marks. Schmidt’s fast ball has dropped in velocity rather significantly and he has a history of injuries.

So I can understand Hendry’s interest in Lilly. He’s not as good as Schmidt, but he’s pretty good and he’ll cost about $5 million per year less. Even so, I’m not thrilled with Lilly, especially if he is slotted in as the #2 starter. But as I said, the Cubs have to add someone, so who would I prefer?

I honestly can’t make a really strong case to sign someone other than Lilly, but there are a couple of guys I prefer. First on that list is Jeff Suppan. In previous posts, I referred to Suppan as the poor man’s Barry Zito. Suppan has good stuff and he’s an innings eater. But although his price tag may not be as high as Zito’s, he’s anything but cheap. Expect Suppan to sign for $10-$12 million per year.

Vicente Padilla is another guy I like better than Lilly. He’ll cost about the same as Lilly, has better stuff, and is more durable, although injuries have been a problem in the past for Padilla as well.

By this time next week, I expect the Cubs to have their two new starting pitchers. I think they’ll sign one FA (probably Lilly) and they’ll trade for another pitcher (probably Indians RHP Jake Westbrook, although Rockies RHP Jason Jennings is still a possibility). But no matter who the Cubs add to their rotation, it likely won’t please all Cubs fans. Of course, that’s the nature of the game…and the nature of being a Cubs fan.


At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suppan proved his value during the post season last year. It would be great to see him as a Cub. Padilla may have good stuff, but he's trouble in the locker room. I'll take Lilly over Padilla.

As for Westbrook or Jennings, why would the Indians or Rockies trade them? It's not like either team has a wealth of pitching.

At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Brick said...

Anonymous, The Indians and Rockies would be willing to trade Westbrook or Jennigs because they are both going to be free agents next year and neither team wamts to lose them without getting something in return. It is unlikely that either team will be able to afford to sign either guy, so rather than let them walk away after next year, they might be interested in trading them and getting some value in return. I'm not saying it will happen, just that it could.

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Brick said...

btw, the Indians need bullpen help, so a package including Howry, Eyre or Cotts might intrigue them. The Rockies need a center fielder, so a package including Jacque Jones or Felix Pie might be enough to get Jennings. The point is, if either team is willing to trade for Westbrook or Jennings, the Cubs have the bodies to make the trade work.

At 12:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing I don't understand is why Hendry decided to target Lilly. Suppan is a much better pitcher, his style fits Wrigley Field perfectly (throws a lot of ground balls), and he's not going to cost much more than Lilly. Schmidt, Zito and Padilla are also all better than Lilly. Ican't understand why Hendry would target the 4th or 5th best guy available and make a beeline to him.


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