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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cubs Preview 3/26/08

Roster Spot #5- P- Theodore Roosevelt "Ted" Lilly #30
Ht: 6'1'' Wt: 190 Bats:Left Throws: Right

Call me Steve Trachsel Again, Bitch.

I'm not sure how many people anticipated Ted's success last year. Andy Dolan of Desipio did, somehow, but few others. Many of us winced when Jim Hendry signed Ted to a 4 year, 40 million contract. While I didn't disagree with the prediction that Ted's ERA would drop once he left the AL, his career inconsistency made me a little nervous, as did the fact that he had never topped 200 innings pitched in a season. But Ted did indeed prove worth at least the first year of his contract and posted the following line:

34 GS, 207.0 Innings, 15-8, 3.83 ERA, 174 K's, 55 walks, 1.140 WHIP.

All of which either tied or set career highs. The Desipio theory is that Ted is a lot like Jamie Moyer, Randy Johnson, or David Wells, three lefties who posted far better numbers in their 30s than twenties. I can hope, and Ted's first season has given plenty of reason to hope, that he will follow the career path of those three.

In 2007, Ted was the most consistently good starter on the Cubs. While Zambrano and Hill both have better stuff, neither was as reliable every time as Ted, who led the team with 20 quality starts. (6 or more innings pitched, 3 or less runs surrendered). Ted was also the team's stopper in 2007, as he went 9-1 in games he pitched after a Cubs loss. The only time Ted wasn't clutch for the Cubs was his start in the playoffs, when he struggled against the Diamondbacks, gave up 6 runs in 3 innings and famously slammed his glove to the mound after giving up a home run to Chris Young. Given that the whole team skipped the playoffs, I'll let him off the hook.

Ted's personality has always been one of his more aspects, from his bulldog personality on the mound to his notorious clubhouse wrestling match with manager John Gibbons when he was a Blue Jay in '06. Given that the Cubs like their starting pitchers to be well versed in hand-to-hand combat, he fits in well.

Some wonder if Ted Lilly can repeat his success of 2007 this year, but given that he's won 15 games in back-to-back years and now seems to have a grip on the control problems that have plagued him in the past, I am not among them. My bold prediction for Ted this year? 17 wins.

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