2007 MLB Free Agents: Ted Lilly

Today let’s take a closer look at free agent southpaw Ted Lilly.

Lilly made $4MM this year, failing to hit any of his innings pitched incentives.  He’ll turn 31 in January and should be able to snag a three-year contract without a problem.  2006 was not his best season despite the career high 15 wins; Lilly’s 2004 effort was better and included an All-Star appearance.  He’s said publicly that he’d like to return to the Bay Area to play with the Giants or again with the A’s.  The Jays have some interest in retaining him at the right price.

Performance-wise you’re getting a strikeout pitcher who’s tough to hit and battle-tested in the AL East.  He’s a flyball pitcher and is prone to worse than average HRs allowed.  His control’s a problem too, as Lilly walks about four batters per nine innings.   After his fastball, Lilly mixes in an equal number of curves, sliders, and changeups.  He’s tougher on lefties but not terribly so.

Some past history on Theodore Roosevelt Lilly:

July: Traded from Dodgers to Expos in deadline deal for Mark Grudzielanek and Carlos Perez.
Tossed 213.2 innings, including winter ball.

March: Couldn’t quite crack the Expo rotation.
May: Called up for a few weeks.
June/July: MRI on left shoulder shows no significant damage.
September: Called up again.
October: Shoulder surgery.

March: Traded to Yanks along with Jake Westbrook in Hideki Irabu deal.
Pitched mostly at Triple A as a 24 year-old.

April: Called up, whiffs 10 Red Sox. Remains in rotation.
August: Suspended for nailing Scott Spiezio with a pitch.  Sent back to minors.
September: Called up, using his last option.

April: Makes team as a reliever/spot starter.  Remains in rotation after injuries to starters.
Summer: Shuttles between starting and relief with Pettitte and El Duque injuries.
July: Traded to A’s in 3-team deal involving Jeff Weaver and Carlos Pena. Enters Oakland rotation. Hits DL later that month with inflamed left shoulder.
September: Returns from DL/rehab.

March: Reworks mechanics to take strain off shoulder.
July: With Lilly struggling in rotation, a trade rumor involving Kelvim Escobar surfaces. He stays put.
September: Misses start with back spasms.
November: Traded to Toronto for Bobby Kielty.

January: Signs two-year deal.
February: Reports to camp with sore wrist but remains healthy thereafter.

February: Misses time with left shoulder tendinitis.
April: Begins season on DL but makes April starts.
May: Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg discusses Lilly’s perceived lack of intensity.
July: Biceps tendinitis sends him to the DL again.
September: Comes off DL.  Experiences shoulder blade discomfort.

January: Signs one-year, $4MM deal.
March: Makes change in follow-through. Later in month, experiences minor right shoulder injury.
April: Makes first start despite back/shoulder issues.
June: Leaves start with shoulder tightness.
August: Misses start with stiff neck. Later in month, has heated argument with manager John Gibbons after being pulled from awful start.  Gibbons gets bloody nose.
October: Lilly files for free agency.

Well, that injury history definitely rules out Baltimore.  Whoever signs Lilly is really going to have to take a long look at that left shoulder; he’s yet to throw 200 innings in the Majors.

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