What’s not to love about Theodore Roosevelt Lilly? For one, he was named after a man that went to war just for the adventure. Secondly, he goes to the mound for 30+ starts and throws close to 200 innings. The last two seasons as a Cub, Lilly has thrown 411 innings and amassed a 32-17 record.
Lilly posed a 3.82 ERA in 2007, and followed that up with a respectful 4.09 ERA last season. Of course things didn’t start off well for Lilly in ’08. In April he posed a 1-4 record to go along with his gaudy 6.46 ERA. I don’t know about you, but I thought old Jim might be headed back to the hospital regretting the contract he made the year before.
But like his namesake, Lilly rebounded and went 8-3 after the All-Star break with a 3.33 ERA, including a 4-1 record in September. Of course Lilly didn’t see the mound or San Juan Hill in October as Lou Pinella went with Sir Walks A Lot, Gimmie Big (Z)ero Defense and Harden(ly) a shoulder in the three-game sweep.
I was critical of the Lilly signing two years ago, but he has slowly grown on me. He’s the perfect 4th starter on this team. He breaks up all the hard-throwing righties, and he keeps the Cubs in ballgames as long as Davey Johnson doesn’t let him play left field this weekend.
As for projections, the PECOTA projections have Lilly finishing with an 11-8 record in 161.7 innings. I’m not sure what it is, but the projections have not liked the Cub pitchers this year. They think he will finish with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.29, which isn’t too bad. I have a feeling that Lilly does slightly better this season with a 14-7 record to go along with a 4.05 ERA.
I really think Lilly will be just fine this year. He just needs to stop giving up so many home runs to team Puerto Rico. The main problem I have with the WBC is that Lilly hasn’t gotten regular work. He’s thrown twice in the tournament, and he needs more work to get ready.
Overall, Lilly is one of the signings for Hendry that has turned it out well for the Cubs. I just hope the WBC cause him to start as slow as he did last season.
While I was thinking about addressing an article in The Bright One concerning Big Z being a White Sox supporter, I decided that brand of divisive "journalism" doesn't deserve any play on this site.
Instead, I thought this snippet from a SI article about the WBC was worth mentioning. Apparently, Team USA manager Davey Johnson was thinking about putting Ted Lilly into leftfield in the team's most recent game against the Netherlands. (Haven't the Dutch already done enough damage to the Cubs?)
Let's ignore the potential for injury and outrage at this thought and instead think about the consequences had Lilly actually made his way into the outfield for a half inning. Zambrano might have actually exploded and beaten Lilly/Uncle Lou/Davey Johnson into a pile of bloody goo.
Last season, Zambrano was lobbying for playing time as a position player by roaming the outfield during batting practice. He even threw the balls back to the infield using his left hand as not to hurt his pitching shoulder. Of course Lou shot down the idea and we all had a good laugh about it.
But imagine if Lilly returned from the WBC and walked up to Zambrano with a cocky smirk on his face and whispered softly in Big Z's ear "Totally worth it." Holy crap, that would be amazing.
Anyway, no news here. I just thought it was funny.
WBC = Pitchers playing the outfield...What a great idea, right?
***Note: I wrote this post yesterday, so knowing my luck, the Rangers will light Ted up this afternoon.***
There has been some joking around by Lou and Z about anointing Ted Lilly the Opening Day starter this season in order to make amends for Lilly not getting a chance to pitch in the playoffs, but maybe the Cubs should actually consider it.
The season starts on April 6 against the Ass Trolls in Houston. Upon first seeing the schedule, I thought there was no way Lilly should pitch in this series much less be the Opening Day starter. This line of thinking was based on the power of Carlos Lee/Lance Berkman to hit the ball very, very far and Lilly’s tendency to give up lots of dingers (32 last season...by far the most on the team).
To my surprise though, Sweaty Teddy seems to be quite the stud in Houston based on his performance last season.
In 2008, Lilly had three starts at Houston. Here are his combined stats in those games...
2-0, 3 ER, 11 H, 1 HR, 21 K, 5 BB
Not too bad, eh?
Granted, Lilly hasn’t been know to tear it up early in the season, but he seemed to enjoy success against a 2008 Astros team that isn’t much different in 2009.
Now I know that Opening Day is just one game out of 162 and will most likely play a somewhat minor role in the larger outcome of the season, but I want to start the season off with a win damn it. As far as I’m concerned, the Cubs are on a 4-game losing streak (none of which Lilly pitched in). Plus this will save Zambrano the pressure of having to be the Opening Day starter...a role he has sucked at quite mightily.
After that, I would start Z in Game 2 (he did throw a no-no against the ‘Stros after all) and then Harden for Game 3.
Why start Rich third?
Well, based on the schedule, it will maximize his rest for the next few weeks without having to skip a start.
By pitching Harden on April 8, he wouldn’t have to make another start until April 15 (6 days rest). Staying with that schedule, Harden’s third start would then come on April 21 (5 days rest). And as well all know, the more rest Rich gets, the better he pitches.
Will this happen? Most likely not. I’m guessing Lou will go with a rotation that looks more like this : Z, Demp, Lilly, Shark/Marshall/Other guy, Harden.
But maybe, just maybe, my plan is Ted Lilly-psychotic enough to work.
Lilly made a big leap this year. Not one time did he throw his glove to the ground in exasperation. Not one time was he given a playoff opportunity that was subsequently wasted.
So yeah, that's a plus. The down side, of course, is that the reason he didn't blow a chance is that he wasn't given a chance. The Cubs were too interested in ruining lives to give him a turn on the mound during the Division Series. And yes, this is the first time I've written about the Cubs since the playoff disaster. And not, I'm totally not bitter. Or frustrated. Still.
So anyway, Ted Lilly actually ended up having quite a nice season. He got off to a terrible, terrible start, ending April with a nifty 6.46 ERA and four losses. But just as showers give way to flowers, April horrendous pitching gave way to May almost-but-not-quite decent pitching. And as the weather improved, Lilly started to become the third ace on the Cubs' staff. Starting in June, he posted monthly ERAs of 3.02, 4.23, 3.35, and 3.30, resulting a 3.32 second half ERA. The main cause of this drop in ERA? During the second half, Lilly allowed about half as many homers and walks while maintaining a solid strikeout rate. While I'd love to say that it was a tale of two pitchers, I'm afraid that I'm just about maxed out on cliches and there's lots of off-season still to go. So no go.
One of the best examples of how much Lilly has improved as a pitcher while with the Cubs is the confidence Cub Fan Nation possessed that, had Harden been able to get the ball to Lilly, the series would have come back to Chicago. Lilly's been an excellent clutch pitcher during his Cub career - especially last year - and 4 years at 40 million is starting to look like a solid bargain.
For the second half of 2008, Ted Lilly was the best 4th starter in baseball, reminiscent of the Braves teams of yore (yore?). So, whatdya all say to just grabbing up Peavy and re-signing Dempster and turning Lilly into the best fifth starter in baseball history.
Personally, I think it sounds like a hell of an idea. Do it, Jimbo.
Oh yeah, and Ted Lilly is a serial killer. That is all.
I'm from Maine, Red Sox country. But, until I went to college, I only got to see the Cubs because they played day games (thank you WGN) and no one else in my family liked baseball. Therefore, I am the most hated type of fan -- the sports bigamist. I am a Cubs fan first and a Red Sox fan second.
Let's just say that in 2003, I was in a very uncomfortable position. I cannot begin to describe the pain I felt that year. To this day, if I ever see Alex Gonzalez I will kick him in the nuts. I don't even care if I get the right Alex Gonzalez, I just want to kick some nuts.
Currently, I live in DC where one Aaron Boone played this year. I boooood him incessantly whenever his name was called. Of course, I also boooood Christian Laetner when he played for the Wiz, but I digress....
This Cubs team needs to take on the attitude of the 2004 Red Sox, in that they approached the last four games of the ALCS as a series of one-game playoffs. They did not go into Game 4 thinking, "We need to win four games!!!" They went into that game thinking, "We need to win one game."
I think that this Cubs team, as well as last years', has been going into EVERY game of every postseason series thinking, "We need to win this series...NOW!!!" Obviously, that is not possible, and that vein of thinking will ultimately lead to failure.
Part of the reason this team was so successful during the regular season was due to their ability to put the previous day's game behind them. If they come out flat Saturday (defensively and/or offensively), then theirs is a problem with motivation and coaching. If they come out hot and still are unable to capitalize, then the fates are conspiring against them and there is nothing can be done.
This does NOT mean I believe in curses -- like I said before, I am also a Red Sox fan -- I know of which I speak. So can it. Shit happens.
Were the Cubs the better team in 84? Yes. In '89? Meh. In '98? No. In '03? Even. In '07? Statistically, yes -- by the math the D-bags should never have been that good. This year? Yes (hell, the Cardinals were better than the Dodgers). Will the Cubs buck up and show it? Remains to be seen.
Now, I'm not dumb enough to say, "The Cubs will win on Saturday!" But, I will say that, despite Kuroda's insane K/BB ratio (nearly 3:1) over 183.1 innings pitched, the Cubs actually have the advantage. They are the better team. They won 97 games in the toughest division in the NL.
Rich Harden was a combined 10-2, with 34 earned runs over 148 innings pitched, for an ERA of 2.07. In the NL, he went 5-1, with 14 earned runs over 71 innings pitched, for an ERA of 1.77. Obviously, this guy is our Ace and unquestionably the man we want in this position. Let's just hope that the defense can hold up behind him.
Science willing, the Cubs will get to game four. If so, Ted Lilly's record was 17-9, as well as 10-4 on the road, with an ERA of 4.09 (3.77 away from Wrigley). Not to mention his 2.875 strikeout to walk ratio, all gives me hope of returning the series to the Friendly Confines and Dempster showing why he won 14 games there.
Let me close with this: I know it sounds corny, and I know it sounds insanely stupid. But, if the Cubs (and the fans) would just address the series as a bunch of one-game series instead of trying to win it all on every swing, all will be OK. The pitchers are sound; overall, the defense is sound; the batting is usually sound. Just go out there and do what we all know you can do.
Ehh, it's still in the sixth, and I realize I'm waving an open Twinkie in Karma's face, but WTF, this is fun...and isn't this what a blog is, jotting down one's thoughts?
Huh? That's the Shout Box?
Screw it, I'm kickin' it old skool, short posts, baybee
UPDATE: Through six. What a bunch of mopes. Did they re-sign Derek Bell out of retirement? Is Operation Shutdown back on?
DAMN DAMN DAMN: Mark Loretta breaks through in the 7th. Still up 6-0, still close to lowering the magic number over the Brew Crew (under new management) to 6.
GAME OVER: going up to Miller to take two from Houston, lowering the Magic Number to 6. Just like going over to your neighbor's house, while he's gone on a business trip, and plankin' his wife. Just the dick thing to do.
And the very rude guests, your Chicago Cubs, have won their 90th game, with most likely 12 games left...if this was a Monday Night Football game from the 1970's, Dandy Don Meredith would be singing "Turn Out The Lights"....if this was a Lakers game, the late Chick Hearn would be talking about "jello jigglin"...if this was a White Sox game, we'd be singing their dumbass "Goodbye" song, then we'd tackle an umpire, get arrested, call our buddy at his trailer, make bail, go home, smoke some meth, beat our trashy-assed sweat-pants wearing wives, screw our dogs and get another tattoo on our armpits.
You don't like all that noise? Go over to the Shout Box, or go ahead and blog away. Long form, short form, we now take all comers, and who knows, we may ever trace your IP Address and come to your house and take a dump on your porch if we don't like what you wrote* We have Illinois, Indiana and Ontario covered.
* Nah, we're lovers, not fighters or dumpers.
Much is being said out here on the 'tubes about the manly manliness that Ted Lilly showed us, between his smackdown with Yadier Molina and his defiant elbow jab at whatever dogcrap Brandon Looper threw at him last night.
Yeah, let me take you through my thought process as it happened:
T-minus twenty feet from the plate: "Lilly, what the hell you running for?"
T-minus ten feet from the plate: "He's dead."
T-minus one foot from the plate: "He's NOT gonna slide..."
Liftoff: "Maybe he's gonna jar the ball loose?"
0.5 seconds after Liftoff: "Damn! I could HEAR that hit!"
1.0 seconds after Liftoff, to the present: "Now, just how would THAT be if he hurt himself doing that...?"
I mean, sure, the man's a menace to society, a cold-blooded killer who hides meaty, juicy man parts in various freezers between here, Arizona and Florida. But in a time when we have one starter with (at least) shoulder tendinitis, another starter with (some sort of) pain that is requiring abnormal amounts of rest, a third starter affectionately known as the Marquis du Suck, and the other starter in the midst of a ill-advised deal with the devil...when you're Ted Lilly of the Chicago Cubs, it is prudent to NOT seek out impact situations that could jeapordize your ability to throw a baseball effectively.
Maybe it IS our year. Lilly walked away, while Molina limped like a crutch bitch.
This isn't meant to be a series preview, but I've noticed that when the Cubs land in Milwaukee tonight, they will start their four-game set against the new scourge of the National League, C.C. Sabathia. They will counter him with their own lefty, Ted Lilly.
Point of fact, as far as playoff implications go, this will very much-so have the look of a playoff series. Lilly against Sabathia, Zambrano against Sheets, it could very well tell us a lot about how the Cubs might play in October. If only they'd be entering this four-game set with a little more confidence and offense stability.
The preview will be written and posted before tonight's game. I will give myself away, however, with an early summary.
If the Cubs can win 3 of 4 on the road against the Brewers, then we can effectively declare Milwaukee dead in the water and a non-factor in the central.
If the Cubs go 2-2 against Milwaukee at home, it's a twofold victory - 1) they will have split at home against their biggest opponent, guaranteeing their position in first place once they leave and b) having taken 2 from the lion's den, they will have effectively declared their dominance fo the Brewers, as it will be safe to assume that they'd do better than a split at Wrigley.
If Milwaukee takes 3 of 4, or sweeps, then it will mean absolutely nothing because there are still 2 months to play.
See that? No bias there, nope, none at all.
I went to the game last night. The Cubs won, I sat in a Wrigley Field luxury box, and I brought the goat camera as well as the junior goat camera (a Canon Powershot SD1000). Here are a few pics I snapped in between defending the Miller High Life from the guy who was trying to ruin Miller Time.
Ted Lilly mid-delivery
Ted Lilly was on the bump last night. Aside from a 3 run jack he allowed in the first, Theodore Roosevelt was on last night.
Derrek Lee preparing to crush a home run
Derrek Lee hit a solo home run in the third that tied the game. This wasn't actually the pitch on which he did it, but we can pretend. (How far did it fly? 389 Happy feet.)
Ryan Theriot slides into third, Alfonso Soriano scores
I love this picture because it shows everyone playing their role. I showed it to my Russian co-worker who reiterated her belief that baseball is too complicated. She couldn't believe all the runners have dedicated 'advisors'. She also loves ping pong and 'badminton'.
Mark DeRosa lays off a pitch
I was at the game as a guest of a Mr. DeRosa, so I figured I would include this one as well.
For some artistic pictures of Wrigley Field, see my post at The Cubdom.