Ted Lilly has played for six teams, but his most impressive stretch came during his 3+ years in Chicago. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Lilly joined the Cubs in 2007 and proved to be a key component of the Cubs' playoff-bound teams of 2007 and 2008.
- He averaged over 30 starts in his three full years as a Cub; his 34 starts in 2008 were the most in the NL.
- He was the most consistent Cub starter over that time, going 44-25 with a 3.70 ERA.
- He bowled over Yadier Molina that one time, which was fucking awesome.
While it is not generally advisable to make a significant free agent signing from a hospital bed, Jim Hendry's decision to ink Lilly to a four-year, $40 million deal in the 2006 offseason (when he also signed Soriano and re-signed Aramis Ramirez) was a great one. Lilly ate up innings, generally held opponents at bay and was well-liked by teammates and fans.
But at last year's trade deadline, with the Cubs 12 games out of first and Lilly's four-year deal near completion, Hendry traded Lilly and Ryan Theriot (whom we'll ignore for the purposes of this post) to the Dodgers for Blake DeWitt and minor leaguers Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit. Lilly won seven games down the stretch for LA, then signed a three-year, $33 million deal in the offseason.
He has struggled so far in 2011, going 6-10 with a 5.08 ERA. Let's look at the two minor leaguers:
Kyle Smit, 23, went 5-1 with a 1.96 ERA for Double-A Tennessee in 2010, but has been lit up to the tune of a 5.85 ERA in 33 games this season.
Brett Wallach, the 22-year-old son of former major leaguer Tim Wallach, did not win a game last year and has a 5.91 ERA this year.
DeWitt was the main haul in the deal, and, as many of you are painfully aware, he has struggled as a Cub. Originally a platoon candidate along with Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney stole the starting job to begin the season. Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein suggests DeWitt "has the prettiest swing you'll see never turned into results," and at just 25, it's still possible he could figure it out. But with something of a logjam at second base, it seems possible that DeWitt won't be wearing a Cubs uniform in 2012.
Lilly's tenure was destined to conclude after 2011--the Cubs didn't have the scratch to pay him $11 million a year--so Hendry decided to get what he could for the lefty. At this stage, it looks like he didn't get very much.
Grade on decision to trade Ted Lilly at the 2010 trade deadline: C