- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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Cubs lefthander Ted Lilly continues to represent himself as a consummate professional pitcher, going most of the season without any run support to speak of.
Actually, the Cubs have scored 31 total runs in Lilly’s 13 starts, for an average of 2.3 runs-per-Lilly-outing.
However, the team-oriented Cubs pitcher is still fully supportive of his teammates.
“They’re grinding out at-bats and finding out ways to score whenever they can,” Lilly said after the Cubs 3-1 win over the Pirates on Tuesday. “I’m sure they’re frustrated. It’s one of those things when you’re going through [it], the less you talk about it, the better. And the more you try to concentrate on making adjustments, you’re better off for it. It can escalate into something more than it should be.”
If the present losing trend continues for the Cubs, Lilly may be the most sought-after pitcher on the trade market after Seattle’s Cliff Lee and Houston’s Roy Oswalt. The affable Lilly has a limited no-trade in his contract and is a free agent after the 2010 season.
Knowing Lilly’s personality, he’s the type of pro that might tell Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, ‘Go ahead and get a couple of prospects for me’ if Hendry feels it’ll better the team. Conversely, it would not be unlike Hendry to turn around and tell Lilly that if he does trade him, he’d like first shot at resigning the hardworking veteran when the free agent period begins in November.
Lilly’s value on the trade market is extremely underrated. Before pitching for the Cubs, Lilly spent his entire career toiling in the most difficult division in baseball, the AL East. One of the reasons why Hendry and his top scouts wanted to sign Lilly as a free agent is that he was mentally tough and time-tested, pitching against the Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox for most of his career.
The Lilly free-agent signing will go down as one of Hendry’s best. Lilly has won 47 games since signing a four-year, $40 million contract with the Cubs in December of 2006. The signing will always be remembered in baseball circles because of the fact that Hendry was being wheeled into a hospital with heart complications while he consummated the deal in Orlando at baseball’s winter meetings.
Teams like the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Rockies and Red Sox will be watching the Cubs intently during the next few weeks and scouting Lilly’s next four or five starts to be prepared if the North siders decide to move Lilly. Both the Red Sox and Rockies had scouts in attendance for Lilly’s start on Tuesday night.
--Alfonso Soriano collected his second two-homer game of the season on Tuesday night. He now has 25 multi-homer games during his career.
Contending teams are waiting to see if the Cubs will decide to trade Ted Lilly.