On December 6, 2006, Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry made one of his best signings. Despite taking heat for passing on Barry Zito, Hendry signed Ted Lilly to a four-year, $40 million deal.
Lilly has been outstanding since putting on a Cubs uniform. The 33-year-old has won 41 games while managing to keep his ERA below 4.00.
So why would you even think about moving Lilly? The truth is, Lilly is a free agent at the end of the 2010 season and is slated to make $12 million in 2010.
Moving Lilly wouldn’t be a salary dump. The Cubs would likely get a decent amount back in return for the all star. Out of the 30 MLB teams, it's a pretty good bet that at least 20 of them would have some interest in Lilly.
One team that would certainly have interest in Lilly is the New York Yankees. Lilly, who pitched for the Yankees between 2001-2002, would be a perfect fit for the Yankees rotation.
What could the Cubs get in return for Lilly? How about Robinson Cano. The 27-year-old Cano is hitting .311 with 61 RBI for the first-place Yankees. He would certainly fill the hole at second for the Cubs.
It would certainly be risky for the Cubs to move arguably their best starter for the past three years, but starting pitching isn't a problem. The Cubs appear to be pretty deep. Zambrano, Dempster, and Wells are a better-than-average one through three.
The beauty of it is the Cubs don't have to make this decision anytime soon. It's important that guys like Gorzelanny, Harden, and Zambrano get plenty of work during the final six weeks of the season.
I'm pretty confident the Cubs can work out a one-year deal with Harden with incentives. He certainly can fill the Cubs spot as their No. 4 starter. Overall he's had a decent season and—most importantly—has been relatively healthy.
As for Gorzelanny, the next six weeks should tell us if he can handle the No. 5 spot in the rotation. I personally think you can do a lot worse than Gorzelanny or Sean Marshall.
The important thing is that the Cubs use these final six weeks as a tryout for 2010. Let’s hope we see a lot more of guys like Jake Fox, Sam Fuld, and Gorzelanny. No sense in crying over 2009; it’s time to move towards 2010.