clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Blake DeWitt: Is That All There Is for Lilly?

George wonders if the Cubs could have gotten more in exchange for Ted Lilly.

When I first heard of the Ted Lilly-Ryan Theriot trade Saturday, I thought the Cubs had gotten a different Blake.

Casey Blake? Nice serviceable third baseman, but where would A-Ram go? Blake Edwards? That was a long-ago movie director. Amanda Blake? Marshal Dillon had a crush on her.

Blake DeWitt? DeWitt Clinton Elementary School on Fairfield Avenue in Chicago was my grade-school alma mater, class of '69. You know that year.

OK, Blake DeWitt, nice little infielder with the Dodgers. A six-year-younger version of Ryan Theriot, it seems. But is that, plus a couple of low-level minor-leaguers, all there is for the capable left arm of Ted Lilly, with Theriot himself tossed into the deal.

Lilly himself should have been worth a DeWitt type plus a near-big-league-ready prospect. And now all Jim Hendry could get for an effective lefty and a veteran starting second baseman was another second baseman plus a couple of kids?

It wasn't even a great salary dump. Lilly's contract was up after this season and Theriot's deal was chicken feed by present-day standards. And you cannot believe Hendry was under more stress to do a deal than Dodgers counterpart Ned Colletti, the former Cubs media-relations director and long-ago left-field bleacher bum, who has to watch dollars due to his owner's ongoing celebrity divorce.

Blake DeWitt better be the next incarnation of Ian Kinsler for what the Cubs traded for him. Interestingly, he got a Hall of Fame recommendation for Hendry.

"Greg Maddux spoke highly of him when he pitched with the Dodgers," said Hendry said of his special assistant.

"He’s a tough kid. He’s 24. His better days are way ahead of him. We have a good relationship with a lot of the LA coaches. He’s a got a chance to be a complete player. He’s got a chance to be better offensively."

OK, the Cubs needed to get younger, speedier and more left-handed, and DeWitt, on paper, fills those requirements. They needed more youth in the middle infield to complement Starlin Castro. We'll reserve judgment on DeWitt until after his initial two-month trial.

But Hendry did not have a near-future home-grown first-base successor for Derrek Lee, sure to be let go as a free agent after this season. In any deal dumping an attractive veteran like Lilly, he needed to scoop up a first-base prospect. That is, unless he has a secret plan to sign Adam Dunn, who likely will walk from the Nationals at season's end now that he won't be a White Sox.

Or maybe there's the tacit understanding Lilly is merely a short-term rental to be given back to the original owner (albeit with a new contract) in the off-season. Of all the Cubs logically ticketed for other employers, Lilly was by far the keeper, the one best tied in to positive team chemistry and role-model status.

"Teddy has done a really terrific job the last four years," Hendry said. "It was one of those contracts where he earned every penny we paid him.

"I think everyone knows anyone would want Ted Lilly when he’s healthy and going good. I wouldn’t close the door on (re-signing him). We’ll just wait and see on that."

Like we'll wait and see on DeWitt, wondering if he'll indeed make us all forget Theriot, let alone one of the most effective lefties in recent Cubs history.