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By all accounts, Ted Lilly will be an ex-Cub by Saturday's trading deadline, in which case tonight's start at Houston will be his last for the team. Signed in December, 2006 after finalizing a deal with Cubs GM Jim Hendry moments before Hendry underwent an angioplasty, Lilly will go down as one of the GM's savvier acquisitions.

If you're a Twitter user and are not currently following us (@thecubreporter), please do so. The goal is to get to 600 followers—we're currently at 584—before Alex Rodriguez hits his 600th home run.

And then rub his nose in it.

A couple items from the rumor mill...

Ken Rosenthal says the Cubs are running a Kosuke Sale. And Bruce Levine is apparently reporting that Ryan Theriot's stock went up over the weekend and that he is now on the radars of the Rockies, Padres, and Tigers. Tip o' the hat to @TheCCO, who passed along Levine's report, and also to Tim McGinnis of Aisle 424 (@Aisle424) who wrote so eloquently of Theriot:

— A season-high crowd of nearly 13,000—more than 5,000 above than the I-Cubs' average—was on hand for Carlos Zambrano's rehab appearance last night in Des Moines. 

Zambrano threw a bumpy but scoreless inning in which he got 10 of 15 pitches over the plate, but allowed two singles and was saved from a third hit by Sam Fuld's catch against the center-field wall. (See Mike Wellman's full account here.)

 

Current plans are for Zambrano to pitch in Round Rock over the weekend and then in Albuquerque on Tuesday before rejoining the big club in Colorado.

After all these years, I should know better than to underestimate the Cubs' ability to screw things up, but each time they do, I am somehow sickened anew. This 10-week, all-expenses-paid farewell tour of the National League granted to Lou Piniella is just the latest example.

After 23 years as a manager and many, many victories, though not a single one of them in the post-season as the manager of the Chicago Cubs, Lou Piniella is retiring at season's end.

Piniella, Jim Hendry, and Tom Ricketts are scheduled to meet with the press at about 4:15.

More to come later on.

According to the Playoff Odds Report at Baseball Prospectus, your Chicago Cubs enter play tonight with a .66% chance of reaching the post-season. Yes, point-six-six percent, as in 66 percent of 1 percent. Pretty sad, huh?

The Astros, however, come into the game with a .00075% chance of reaching the playoffs, so by BP's figuring, the Cubs are about 866 times more likely to get to the post-season than are the Astros.

Feeling better now about 2010?

The Astros lead the season series, 4 victories to 2.

Astros lineup v. Carlos Silva (9-3, 3.45; 2-0, 3.12 all-time v. Astros)
Bourn 8, Sanchez 6, Berkman 3, Pence 9, C. Lee 7, Keppinger 4, C. Johnson 5, J. Castro 2, Rodriguez 1

Cubs lineup v. Wandy Rodriguez (6-11, 4.97; 4-4, 3.74 all-time v. Cubs)
Colvin 9, Castro 6, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Byrd 8, Soriano 7, Soto 2, Baker 4, Silva 1

"It's just disappointing, I guess, to think you have a team where everybody in here thinks you can still do it and you can't. You'll never know what could have happened."

So said White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura to Phil Rogers of the Tribune on August 1, 1997, the day after Ventura's bosses completed the so-called "White Flag Trade," in which the Sox shipped three of Ventura's veteran teammates to San Francisco for six minor leaguers, all while Ventura's team—52-53 at the time—sat just 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians.

"This team had a chance, and it didn't seize it. It was hard to look at this team and feel very confident. I wasn't interested in finishing second in a poker hand."

UPDATE:

Phillies (47-41) @ Cubs (40-50)

Phillies lineup v. Ted Lilly (3-8, 4.08; 1-4, 6.43 all-time v. Phillies)
Rollins 6, Victorino 8, Werth 9, Howard 3, Francisco 7, Ransom 5, Ruiz 2, Valdez 4, Blanton 1

Cubs lineup v. Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.41; 0-0, 2.75 all-time v. Cubs)
Theriot 4, Colvin 9, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Byrd 8, Soriano 7, Castro 6, Soto 2, Lilly 1

 


— According to Bruce Levine, Carlos Zambrano had a 25-pitch throwing session in Mesa, following the completion of his anger-management counseling. Zambrano and the Cubs are supposed to decide next week where Zambrano will be headed for his rehab stint.

— Paul Sullivan wrote that Jim Hendry and Ted Lilly got together before last night's game to discuss Lilly's future. Lilly, who will start this afternoon's game against the Phillies' Joe Blanton, was awful in his last two starts before the break, against the Reds and Dodgers—5 homers, 18 hits and 14 ER allowed in just 10 1/3 innings.

Update:

Lineups for Cubs @ Diamondbacks...

Cubs vs. Ian Kennedy
Fukudome 9, Theriot 4, Byrd 8, Colvin 7, Nady 3, Ramirez 5, Castro 6, Soto 2, Gorzelanny 1

D-backs vs. Tom Gorzelanny
Young 8, Johnson 4, Upton 9, Montero 2, Reynolds 5, LaRoche 3, Drew 6, Gillespie 7, Kennedy 1


The dramatic high point of my Independence Day was seeing a little kid take a dump in our community pool.

Speaking of the Cubs...

Sunday's 14-3 loss marked not just the Cubs' second defeat to the Reds by 11 or more runs in the course of their four-game series, it was the Cubs' third such shellacking in their past nine home games. (You may have forgotten this doozy from a couple weeks back.)

Not sure what other point to make about this except personally, I'm pretty numb to the whole business. The 14-3's no longer bother me any more than the 3-1's or 2-0's.

Acceptance is the last of the Seven Stages of Grief, right?

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