Kap's Corner

A Look at the Trade of Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot

The Cubs started their overhaul of the roster for the 2011 season by trading pitcher Ted Lilly and 2nd baseman Ryan Theriot to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2nd baseman Blake DeWitt and two minor league pitchers.

The two minor leaguers the Cubs received were both drafted reasonably high but only one is projected by minor league talent evaluators as a probable big league arm. Brett Wallach, the son of former major league infielder Tim Wallach is a recent convert from position player and pitcher to full time pitcher and has, according to the scouts I spoke with a solid chance of pitching in the big leagues as a back of the rotation type or as a set up man. Kyle Smit was a touted prospect in 2006 when he was drafted in the 5th round but has not progressed as the Dodgers had hoped. Here are a couple of scouting reports on the two pitchers from the MLB Daily Dish:

Brett Wallach, 21, Single-A: Wallach is a solid third round pick from the 2009 draft having himself another good year for Class-A. He is 6-0 in 17 starts this season with a 3.42 ERA and 92 strike outs to 43 walks. Hitters are hitting just .230 against him. He has an above average fastball, plus slider and change, and has great mound presence. I believe the Cubs will test him at Double-A Tennessee at some point this season, and that is where he will probably remain for the foreseeable future. 

Kyle Smit, 22, Double-A: Smit was working in relief in Single-A until his recent promotion, posting a 2.49 ERA in 34 appearances. He struck out 46 to just 10 walks, but only held hitters to a .262 average. The Cubs may keep him in Double-A and see if his hot start can continue. Otherwise, the fifth-round pick from the 2006 draft has been a disappointment.

Here is an article on Wallach written shortly after he was drafted that talks about his background and his abilities....I have pasted some of the article below.

The younger Wallach, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder who pitched and played first base for OCC as a sophomore, was selected as a right-handed pitcher. Projected as a Friday night starter at Long Beach State, according to OCC Coach John Altobelli, Wallach was 10-1 with a 2.26 earned-run average and four saves for the 37-14 Pirates. He struck out 111 in 103 2/3 innings and earned a victory and a save in three state tournament wins in Fresno. Yet his contributions were hardly confined to the mound.

Batting cleanup, he hit .371 with three home runs and 48 runs batted it. It's clear, however, that his future is trying to foil hitters, not pitchers, though his pitching career is still getting off the ground.

He said he pitched in youth leagues growing up, but threw only two innings his senior year at Orange Lutheran High. Wallach said his best fastball topped out at 87 mph in high school, but now regularly hits between 90 and 92 mph on the radar gun. He also throws a slider and has been working to develop a change up.

"My velocity kind of came late; it's weird," said Wallach, who was 5-foot-4 as a high school freshman and weighed 160 pounds in his final prep campaign, during which he played shortstop.

Wallach played shortstop and first base as a freshman at Orange Coast, but was also utilized as the closer. He had 10 saves, won three of five decisions and posted a 3.36 ERA, fanning 30 in 31 2/3 innings. He also hit .288 with 19 RBIs.

What the Cubs Gave Up:

As for the players the Cubs gave up it is not hard to understand why the trade was made. Ted Lilly is a solid veteran and a free agent at the end of the season so any money that the Cubs were able to save in the deal is a win for an organization that is hamstrung by some awful contracts. Add in the million dollars that they save by dealing Ryan Theriot who if he was offered arbitration this winter would have earned somewhere close to 4 million dollars and the deal was a no brainer.

Theriot has had a rough 2010 season struggling with his on base percentage, his base running, and his ability to drive in runs. In addition, with Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker on the roster he was expendable after he proved that he is not a good option as a leadoff hitter. He is a solid fit in the clubhouse and plays hard but it is very understandable why he was moved.

Next up for GM Jim Hendry is figuring out how much money the Ricketts family will have to eat to extricate themselves from the likes of Carlos Zambrano and Kosuke Fukudome but those deals probably will not happen until this winter. When you look at this year's payroll of 145 million dollars and the money that will be trimmed going into the off season it is not hard to imagine the Cubs spending somewhere around 120 million on salaries as they retool with more prospects from their farm system.

A look at the salaries the Cubs are currently on the hook for in 2011 adds up to 103 million dollars but you have to figure that Hendry will be able to save some money by moving Fukudome and Zambrano which should reduce his payroll to approximately 90-95 million dollars for 9 players. That will leave him having to fill a hole at first base, at least one if not two pitchers in his rotation, and seeing the cost of keeping pitchers like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and catcher Geovany Soto all go significantly higher.

The big question will be if he can find a rotation arm in his system and whether that is Andrew Cashner, Jay Jackson or another minor leaguer or if the Cubs choose to move Sean Marshall into the rotation despite the outstanding season he has had in the primary setup role. Also, what will the budget be that Hendry is given to work with? If it is less than 120 million dollars then there will not be much in the way of flexibility to improve the roster from the outside. However, at some point the Cubs are going to have to get younger by playing their best prospects which should allow them to work with a lower payroll because of the cost control that younger players bring you.

This winter will be Hendry's toughest to navigate because unlike 2006 when he was allowed to spend lavishly with the next owner of the team being forced to deal with the fallout of back loaded contracts as the Tribune Company tried to elevate the franchise's worth there will not be that opportunity this time.

Don't forget though that the two times Hendry has had to retool after a horrible season was the winter of 2002-03 when as a new GM he took a 67 win team and nearly got it to the World Series and when he rebuilt on the fly going into 2007. Here's hoping he can turn the trick again. 

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11 Comments

Edelweiss said:

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Here is the part you left out, or, maybe weren't aware of......The Cubs had traded Mike Fontenot at 10 AM to an American League contender for a highly rated middle reliever in the last year of a front-loaded contract. Then they insisted on getting DeWitt as a replacement for Fontenot-they are similar types. The deal was completed at about 1:40 PM. About 15 minutes before the deadline, the named pitcher invoked his no-trade clause, and the Fontenot deal fell through. There was not enough time to re-negotiate. The Cubs will probably go the waiver route.

tbianco592 said:

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Any idea who the pitcher was?

Edelweiss said:

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Actually, I do know, but had better keep quiet, as the Cubs are still negotiating.

TracyT said:

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Good article, Kap. Thanks.

I guess it's nice to see Hendry getting something out of Lilly and Theriot, though I doubt we'll ever see the returns on these trades make a solid impact on the major league club.

Kap, can you tell us your opinion of Hendry's trade abilities (sans the Lee and Ramirez deals, which were nothing more than salary dumps)?

tbianco592 said:

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Kap...did the Cubs ever explore trade opportunites for Silva, earlier in the season, when he was piching very well? I don't understand why we didn't dump him when his stock was high. Probably would not have received much in return, but would have shed part of his salary, and a pitcher who will end up with an ERA near 5 or so, by seasons end. Could have completely washed our hands of the Bradley fiasco, had we done that. Unfortunately, he's pitching like the Carlos Silva of old now, so his stock has plummeted.

joeydafish said:

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I can't believe I'm about to say....maybe Hendry made a good trade here?? ZOINKS!!! He might be protecting third and or first base with Dewitt in case Ramirez can't find his form next year or Hendry can't find a firstbaseman? Because if Dewitt winds up at either 3rd (even if in 2012 after Ramirez leaves and Vitters winds up bombing...?) or first this would free up second base for Barney, right? It could be that Hendry actually was able to get at least some decent players for Theriot while the getting was good as Theriot won't ever be a run producing game changer and if he didn't offer Lilly arbitration (which was probably the case) we may not have gotten any good draft picks. I'm not THRILLED with this trade but I don't think it falls in the typical "STUPID" file of Hendry's, after all he OR HIS SUCCESSOR (AMEN..) may use the players acquired in this deal in yet another deal to get a run producing firstbaseman. In 2006 Hendry was ALLOWED to spend lavishly, he ran with it and spent FOOLISHLY. Also as a NEW GM, Hendry took a terrible team and retooled? NEARLY got to the World Series, duh, such lofty goals and accolades. NOW he is the reason the Cubs are in the same bad cycle. How can the Cubs be in an OVERHAUL of their roster for 2011 while Soriano, Fukodome and Zambrano may very well return? Until all 3 are gone (and hopefully Hendry as well) not much of an overhaul. Plus an overhaul conducted by Hendry doesn't automatically transalte to an IMPROVEMENT. Who knows, maybe Hendry will go get the lead-off man the Cubs desperatley need...the second coming of R Y A N F R E E L....

Edelweiss said:

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You heard it here first, but I will let someone else name names and make accusations. There will be a sex scandal regarding the Cubs. It will be in the form of sexual harassment. The only hint I will give is that those gigantic high heels found in the clubhouse do not belong to any of the players.

EastCoastCubFan said:

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Kap, from what I've read it sounds like you're saying that the Cubs are DEFINITELY going to try to move Zambrano this winter. Am I understanding you correctly? Do you think there's ANY chance at all they'll be able to unload him on some other team? I don't see how they can possibly can do this, given how much $$ he's owed. If you're going to have to eat a large chunk of his contract (which the Cubs would have to do), what is the point of getting rid of him? Whatever $$$ you save won't be enough to sign anybody of any consequence anyway.

joeydafish said:

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Would the team be better off with him off the roster, eating ALL his salary (ha ha) just to open up a spot for somebody else? Same could be said about Soriano and Fukodome. But I would rather have the Ricketts eat Hendry's salary and let HIM go!

Edelweiss said:

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It was pretty obvious to everyone except, apparently Theriot. The way the team was showcasing him, praising every move he made, even though he did nothing to merit any real honest praise, and trying to put his nme on every charity event the team was involved in. It worked. That makes you wonder what plans they would have for a player they are completely hiding,(Fontenot) even though he was performing well in April, and hasn't played much since. They said no to all trade discussions in June, and would only agree to a trade if another player with a bigger salary could be included. If they had any hope of trading a player, why would they keep him hidden when the scouts were around? It would be silly to non-tender or release a guy they could have received something for.

joeydafish said:

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Silly is par for the course with Hendry. Who has yet to figure out the rhyme or reason to his tactics? Year after year it's grab a free agent or two and hope for the best with this guy. Only this year did we see some development in the likes of Castro and Colvin, both of which were after thoughts to the roster, not because of anything Hendry planned. A long term, bite the bullet plan is needed so a core group of players can come together over a few years and get their footing TOGETHER. Like the Twins usually do year in and year out. If the Twins had the payroll of the Cubs and were able to add one or two pieces of the puzzle come trade deadline they would have seen more World Series appearances and not just playoff runs. The "better win now to keep the pitch fork, torch wielding villagers at bay in order to keep my job" way of general managing ISN'T WORKING. Do the Ricketts see that?

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