With Ted Lilly Having Surgery, Should The Cubs Go After a Starter?

Brady StiffContributor INovember 5, 2009

CHICAGO - AUGUST 28: Starting pitcher Ted Lilly #30 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the ball against the New York Mets on August 28, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Mets 5-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Cubs' starting rotation got a worse fate than they deserved in 2009.

Even though some guys (cough...Zambrano...cough) didn't have the season that everyone expected them to, they pitched solidly and kept the Cubs in a lot more games than the offense did.

According to Chicago Tribune writer Paul Sullivan's Twitter page, Ted Lilly has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder, and should be ready by April.

Should be ready? Does that mean he'll be ready to start throwing? Or does it mean that he'll be ready to throw 200 innings by April?

I'm sure that clarification is coming from multiple sources, but the release of that bit of information confirms two things:

1. Twitter is your best source for breaking news 
2. The Cubs should go after a starter this offseason.

I've been thinking of No. 2 for a while now. I don't think Rich Harden will be back, simply because the Cubs can't afford to gamble. Harden still commands a bigger-than-average salary while being more of a liability than a reliable asset. I thought the Cubs should have traded Harden while they had their chance.

Well, they didn't, and now they have to make up for that mistake, and find a quality, while still cheap, starting pitcher. Worst case scenario here is that Lilly won't be ready to go by Opening Day, and you'll need an extra starter anyway.

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Let's take a look at a couple of candidates.

Ben Sheets 

Remember this guy? He used to dominate up at Wrigley North. Sheets had a fantastic career going until a torn flexor tendon sidelined him for all of 2008. According to a recent report, though, he's already throwing off of flat ground in preparation for Spring Training 2010. I think this is a good sign, because he's had a really long time to rehab his arm, and build up arm strength and endurance.

Obviously, Sheets' contract (regardless of who he signs with) will be a cheap base salary with loads of incentives. Nobody is going to want to invest a lot of money into someone who hasn't pitched in over a year. If he can re-harness his old self though, he could be potent.

Joel Pineiro 
Even though he was a member of the hated Cardinals for the last few years, I think Pineiro could be a valuable addition to the Cubs' rotation. He had a pretty decent year, posting 15 wins and a 3.49 ERA. He threw 214 innings over 32 starts, so obviously he's got a good health track record.

The catch with Pineiro is he'll probably want a raise. His expiring contract was extended, and he made $13 million over the last two years. If the Cubs can afford it, they should give him a two year deal worth $14.5 million.

What do you think? Do you think I'm an idiot? Do you agree? Do you think the Cubs don't need to get another starter? Leave your comments with who you would like to see the Cubs go after.


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