Officially now the Ted Lilly era has ended in Chicago and he is taking Ryan Theriot with him. After a few days of negotiations the Cubs have officially sent Lilly and Theriot to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Blake DeWitt and two minor league pitchers.
Lilly will immediately join the Dodgers rotation and might pitch tomorrow his scheduled day. He slots in as the teams third or fourth starter and provides them a good veteran starter to surround their young guys. He also fits in with the ballpark perfectly, Dodger Stadium night games are infamous for swallowing up fly balls.
Losing Theriot is probably the best thing for the Cubs future that comes out of this deal. Theriot was under team control for another year or two and his diminishing skills were killing the team. Had he been brought back as the starting second baseman for 2011 that would have been a sure sign that the Cubs couldn’t compete. I wish the Dodgers best of luck with Theriot, though I imagine they won’t like him for more than a game or two.
The Cubs return is of course what we all really care about in this deal, and right now Blake DeWitt appears to be the main return. DeWitt was the Dodgers starting second baseman this season, though he isn’t anything special. He does provide the Cubs with a major league proven left handed hitter that can play a couple of positions.
This season DeWitt has posted a .723 OPS and .319 wOBA which provides an instant upgrade over Theriot. He only has two stolen bases this season so he doesn’t bring that element, and he doesn’t have a ton of power either. Just one homer this season, though he does have 15 doubles and four triples. How far he figures into the Cubs future is certainly a good question, but he will be under team control for a few more seasons, and his flexibility means that at the very least he will be a good utility guy that plays cheap.
The two minor league pitchers that came over are Kyle Smit and Brett Wallach.
Smit is a right handed bullpen pitcher who was recently promoted to AA by the Dodgers. He’s still just 22 years old and having his best season in professional baseball. He has a 2.35 ERA this season in 53 2/3 innings. After having some issues with command in previous seasons it would appear something has clicked with Smit because his BB/9 is at 1.8 this season. It sat at 3.8 previously. His strikeout rate is dominating, but still 7.9 per nine innings and he allows an average of less than a hit an inning.
Now I just get all of that off a stat sheet and can’t speak to his actual stuff right now. He would appear to be a classic “his upside is a good setup man” pitcher who at best will bounce around baseball and put together some solid seasons. There is no reason not to stockpile guys like that though, especially with the way the Cubs have played bullpen shuffle in recent years.
Brett Wallach was the Dodgers third round pick in 2009 and is currently starting in A ball. He is a right handed pitcher who is just 21 years old and having a really good season. In 17 starts he has a 3.72 ERA and hasn’t lost a start if you care about that sort of thing. His walk rate is a little high at 4.6 per nine innings, but his strikeout rate is nice and high as well at 9.8 per nine innings.
Looking at those two I’m rather pleased with this deal for the Cubs. They get a bench utility infielder who is cheaper and better than Theriot, plus two young pitchers who appear to have a lot of upside. While this isn’t the coup of the century, I’m rather pleased with what the Cubs have gotten.