Ted Lilly was forthcoming yesterday with his desire: he’d like to play in the Bay Area for either the Giants or A’s. Lilly mentioned that he was looking at the Giants’ rotation and doesn’t know whether they would have an opening. I think we can reasonably answer his question.
Matt Morris, Noah Lowry, and Matt Cain form the foundation of the rotation.
Still, the Giants definitely will have a need for a starter. Jason Schmidt is a free agent after this season. If his first 52 innings are any indication, he’s going to have a huge price tag. San Francisco may have to deal him midseason; I know Boston has expressed some interest.
Then there’s Brad Hennessey and Jamey Wright, a couple of guys with journeyman written all over them. One of them might make a tolerable fifth but I wouldn’t bet on it. Plus, the whole Matt Morris idea ain’t lookin’ so good right now. The Giants have a few decent arms down at Double A, but their rotation has holes.
I don’t see the A’s re-signing Lilly, but they didn’t seem to have a big need for Esteban Loaiza either. Stranger things have happened.
The fact that Lilly has yet to fully realize his promise won’t stop clubs from bidding on the free agent. The southpaw seemed on the verge of a breakout after making 31 starts for the 2003 A’s. He had a healthy strikeout rate and kept the walks at a reasonable level. However, the A’s dealt him to Toronto that offseason because he was arbitration-eligible.
He started ’04 with a sore wrist. Lilly still made it through a decent year, tossing a career high in innings. His 4.06 per nine walk rate was a cause for concern, however.
Lilly began ’05 with another problem, shoulder tendinitis. The issue lingered and then in May of that year his pitching coach accused him of being "lethargic" after a side session. By July, the word was biceps tendinitis. This time there was the dreaded visit to Dr. Lewis Yocum. He made it out of there unscathed, but his shoulder blade caused discomfort by September.
This season, his non-throwing shoulder barked a little bit. Lilly seems OK now, and his 3.18 ERA through 34 innings looks pretty. Still, he won’t see sustained success walking more than four batters per nine unless he becomes unhittable again, as he was in ’04.
Given that Lilly will be 30 in 2006 and hasn’t shown both health and control in the same season since 2003, he’s probably going to be a bad signing. Baseball Prospectus says he’d only be worth about $6MM if signed for 2007-09. Nonetheless, if Barry stays and Schmidt leaves, I could see the Giants offering Lilly the standard 3/21 deal. As with Morris, it won’t end well.