Chicago media is reporting that Jim Hendry has made an offer
to Toronto Blue Jays FA LHP Ted Lilly
. The offer is believed to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $36-$40M over four years, comparable to the contract Jarrod Washburn
got from the Seattle Mariners last off-season (4/37.5). However, Lillyís agent has said that the while an offer has been received from the Cubs, there are other MLB clubs interested in his client (believed to be NYY, TOR, and SF), and while he has been impressed by the moves the Cubs have made so far, Lilly has not made a decision yet.
One thing pretty clear is that if Hendry has indeed offered Lilly $9M or $10M per year, then itís EXTREMELY unlikely that Hendry will have any further conversations about Jason Schmidt
. If the $15M in 2007 payroll that would have been needed to sign Schmidt is instead split two-ways, and if Lilly gets about $9M of it, then figure Hendry will be able to spend about $6M of ìSchmidt Moneyî on another rotation starter, possibly by acquiring Jake Westbrook
or Jason Jennings
(both of whom make about $6M in 2007) via trade, or by signing a veteran ìswing-manî (starter/reliever) like Miguel Batista
(also likely to get around $6M per year).
So who exactly is Ted Lilly?
Well, Ted Lilly is the poor man's Barry Zito
. Like Zito (and Rich Hill
), Lilly is an extreme fly ball pitcher who relies on pop-ups and strikeouts to get his outs, and when he is on his game and when the wind isn't blowing out at Wrigley or when he isn't pitching in a bandbox like the parks in Houston, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, he can roll through a lineup, racking up Ks (Lilly was 7th in the A. L. in K/IP last season).
However, while Zito (and Hill) frequently will give his club seven strong innings and sometimes pitch into the eight or ninth, Lilly doesn't do that. He is NOT
a "horse" and he is NOT
an "innings eater." In a typical start, Lilly throws about 17-18 pitches per inning (second-most P/IP in MLB last year
, and second only to another presumed Hendry target, Gil Meche
) and because he usually ìhits the wallî at about 90-100 pitches, he has trouble getting through the sixth inning. So the bullpen usually gets an early call when Lilly is on the mound.
I consider Lilly to be a lower-half #2 or upper-half #3 starter, a decent middle of the rotation guy, but I would be more enthused about Lilly if the Cubs didnít already have some IP challenged starters (Mark Prior
and Wade Miller
) and a Zito-clone (Rich Hill) in the rotation. I believe Lilly is a better choice and a class above Meche, Marquis, Redman, et al, but he is not Jason Schmidt and neither is he Vicente Padilla
If the Cubs do manage to sign Lilly, the 2007 starting rotation would look like this (pending any additional acquisitions):