• The Curse Of Ted Lilly

    Posted by on September 16th, 2008 · Comments (26)

    On July 5, 2002, the Yankees traded away Ted Lilly, Jason Arnold, and John-Ford Griffin to the Oakland Athletics. As part of that deal, the Athletics sent Jeremy Bonderman, Carlos Pena, and Franklyn German to the Detroit Tigers. And, the Tigers sent Jeff Weaver to the Yankees. (The Tigers also sent some cash to the Athletics.)

    By the end of the following year, the Athletics traded Lilly, Arnold, and Griffin to the Toronto Blue Jays, in separate deals. Arnold and Griffin never amounted to much – despite the fact that Jason Arnold was the 63th overall pick in the 2001 amateur draft (and was considered by Baseball America as the 9th best prospect in the Yankees system at year-end 2001) and the fact that John-Ford Griffin was the 23rd overall pick in the 2001 amateur draft (and chosen before players such as David Wright, Danny Haren, Ryan Howard and Kevin Youkilis).

    Ted Lilly did fine for himself in Toronto – and played that into a nice Free Agent contract with the Chicago Cubs on December 15, 2006. And, for what it’s worth, as a Free Agent, Lilly expressed an interest in returning to the Yankees – but New York chose not to make a bid for him.

    All told, since he’s left the Yankees, to date, Lilly has pitched in 193 games (191 of them being starts), netting 81 wins, throwing 1,105.6 IP and fashioning an ERA of 4.30.

    As a member of the New York Yankees, Jeff Weaver pitched in 47 games (32 of them being starts), going 12-12, throwing 237.3 IP and fashioning an ERA of 5.35. Things went so poorly for Weaver in New York that he was traded by the team, on December 13, 2003, with with Brandon Weeden and Yhency Brazoban (and cash) to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Kevin Brown.

    Things in New York went just as poorly for Brown as the did for Weaver. With the Yankees, Kevin Brown pitched in 35 games (all starts), going 14-13, throwing 205.3 IP and fashioning an ERA of 4.54. And, when his contract expired on October 28, 2005, Brown was granted Free Agency – which led to his retirement.

    Just for a compare…here’s what Weaver & Brown did for the Yankees, combined, from 2002 through 2005 lined-up against what Lilly did for his teams during the same time period:

    Pitcher	G	GS	IP	H	BB	SO	ERA
    W/B	82	67	442.6	531	116	283	5.17
    Lilly	111	104	602.0	565	236	488	4.40

    Further, in the 2006, 2007, and 2008 seasons, Ted Lilly (each year) has made at least 32 starts for his team, pitched at least 180 IP, and won at least 15 games. Actually, over the last three seasons, a case could be made that Ted Lilly is one of the 15 best starting pitchers in all of baseball. Meanwhile, in Yankeeland, guys like Kei Igawa, Sidney Ponson, and Darrell Rasner have been starting games for New York.

    The Yankees made a mistake to trade away Ted Lilly during 2002 – and they made another mistake in not signing him as a Free Agent following the 2006 season.

    When people like to talk about the bad calls that Brian Cashman has made with respect to pitching moves, they often talk about acquiring Jeff Weaver, Javy Vazquez, Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, and Kei Igawa; but, they rarely talk about that one that got away and who was not brought back when they had the chance: Ted Lilly.

    Comments on The Curse Of Ted Lilly

    1. antone
      September 16th, 2008 | 9:48 am

      Another reason is that Lilly usually pitches well against the Red Sox. In 19 career starts, he has just a 5-6 record but that is mostly do to poor run support. He has a 3.80 ERA in 111.1 innings pitched with 104 K’s and has pitched a number of great games against the Red Sox including this one: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TOR/TOR200408230.shtml

    2. Raf
      September 16th, 2008 | 10:42 am

      Yep, a young arm the Yanks gave up on too soon. And it’s not like he was stinking up the joint when he was traded to Oakland.

      Seems to me he has always been underrated, mainly because lack of “stuff.” But even when he was in the Expos system (Yanks got him for Irabu), he was striking out hitters.

    3. butchie22
      September 16th, 2008 | 12:13 pm

      Ted Lilly is a pet peeve of mine. Didn’ he win 17 games in his last season in Toronto? Ricciardi offered him more or less what the Cubs did but Lilly wanted to go back to the Yankees. Look, the guy could pitch in the AL East and that means he could pitch anywhere. I called up the Michael Kay show when the Cubsters signed him and the Bronx Bombers got Igawa. I basically said that Lilly was a known commodity at 10 mill a year and Igawa wasn’t at 52 mill for 5 years. Yeah, at that price Lilly’s 10 mill became 14 BUT what became of Igawa? I wasn’t shocked that Cashman passed him by because he has poor judgement regarding pitching…..among other things!

    4. MJ
      September 16th, 2008 | 12:48 pm

      Yep, a young arm the Yanks gave up on too soon. And it’s not like he was stinking up the joint when he was traded to Oakland.
      —————————–
      Kind of disingenuous…they traded a young arm (Lilly) for another young arm (Weaver). It’s not like they traded a young arm for Rick Rhoden or some other old fart. And, at the time of the trade, Jeff Weaver was having a breakout season for Detroit: 121.7 IP, 75 K, 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 133 ERA+.

      It obviously didn’t work out but the trade was defensible at the time.

    5. September 16th, 2008 | 2:04 pm

      Ah, the post-script rubber-stamp for all of Cashman’s bad moves: “It seemed like the right thing to do at the time…” ;-)

    6. Raf
      September 16th, 2008 | 2:14 pm

      Kind of disingenuous…they traded a young arm (Lilly) for another young arm (Weaver).
      —————
      I stand by my statement that they gave up on Lilly too soon.

      I agree that Weaver was the right move; he was younger and had more success in the majors.

    7. frankinsense
      September 16th, 2008 | 2:19 pm

      Yeah, Steve, but haven’t you been hammering Cashman for not trading another youngster (Hughes) for a more solid pitcher (Santana). It’s apples to oranges, yes, but I don’t see how you can hammer a guy for the moves made (which even you would have said were good moves at the time) then also hammer him for the the moves not made. Ah, must be that dreaded axe to grind, huh?

      Here’s the deal: The Curse of Ted Lilly was the constant trying to upgrade from home grown players to more “talented” ones. Lilly to Weaver to Brown to Vazquez to Unit is one continuous “curse” of the same making. (And you could run the same numbers on any of those comparison – for instance – Vazquez traded for Unit. How have they done since?)

      It took five years but Cashman finally realized, and had the pull, to stop the folly. If in another five years you can put up the same comparison, but substitute Hughes/IPK for Weaver/Brown and Santana for Lilly, and get the same anti-Yankees result, you can conclude that there really is no one way to build an organization. Because Cashman will have tried every which way!

      And that’s it. Cashman has learned, but we don’t know if it will succeed. Still, I’d prefer him to a new, out-of-organization GM who would come in and literally trade the farm to make an immediate impact. And so should you!

    8. September 16th, 2008 | 2:23 pm

      ~~It took five years but Cashman finally realized, and had the pull, to stop the folly.~~

      Someone who’s THAT SLOW a learner should not be entrusted with a $200 million payroll, no?

    9. Raf
      September 16th, 2008 | 2:29 pm

      Ah, the post-script rubber-stamp for all of Cashman’s bad moves: “It seemed like the right thing to do at the time…”
      —————
      “The Yankees did give up a nice young lefty in Lilly and two good prospects in Griffin and Arnold, but give GM Brian Cashman kudos for this deal. Weaver provides depth for this year and, perhaps more importantly, an anchor for next when David Wells is gone and Roger Clemens a year older.”
      http://espn.go.com/mlb/s/2002/0706/1402738.html

      “Clemens will be 40 next month, David Wells is 39 and Orlando Hernández could be 36 years old. Andy Pettitte is 30 and missed two months with elbow tendinitis this season. Only Mike Mussina, at 33 years old and with no recent history of injuries, would seem to be as much of a sure thing for the future as Weaver.”
      http://tinyurl.com/5j4s9g

      “Two teams came out very well in this trade. The Yankees established themselves further as the solid favorite to win the American League East. The Red Sox are only two games back, but New York has made the gap seem wider after acquiring Weaver. While the Athletics could have used Weaver to help their playoff hopes, Oakland’s ownership wouldn’t pick up his contract. So the A’s settled for upgrading their rotation with Lilly and adding two quality prospects. ”
      http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/news/020705weaver.html

      “CNNSI.com’s James Quintong breaks down the trade’s fantasy impact:

      Jeff Weaver has been one of the most underrated pitchers in the league, thanks in part to horrible run support in Detroit. His ERA and WHIP have improved dramatically this year, and he was a solid pitcher entering this season.”
      http://tinyurl.com/6ach6u

      ” The quality of Weaver’s stuff was obvious to the Yankees, and General Manager Brian Cashman received positive reports about his makeup. Weaver competes intensely, showing emotion on the mound and a scowl in the clubhouse on days he pitches.

      “Fire and brimstone, blood and guts,” Cashman said. “Those are the words that came to mind when I asked a lot of questions from a lot of people. I engaged anybody who was close to him, and they all told us the same thing — he’s competitive to a fault, if you can be.”
      http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ha592

      Yep, I’d say it was a good idea at the time…

    10. Scout
      September 16th, 2008 | 2:29 pm

      I thought the original trade — Lilly for Weaver — was a mistake, but it is hard to know who in the Yankee organization was responsible. Cashman said then of Weaver that when a player like that becomes available you have to go for him. Seems to me the right question to ask is, why has his team made him available?

      As for not bringing him back two years ago, it was a blunder for which Cashman alone must be held accountable. I was one of the bloggers who said so at the time. Nothing since then has changed my view. Igawa over Lilly was stupid at the time and it hasn’t gotten any smarter since then.

      On the whole, the Yankee plan to build from within makes a lot of sense as a long-term strategy (though not a rigid doctrine, please!). I really wonder, though, whether in Cashman they have the right person at the top to make the judgment calls that will need to be made along the way.

    11. Raf
      September 16th, 2008 | 2:43 pm

      Someone who’s THAT SLOW a learner should not be entrusted with a $200 million payroll, no?
      ———–
      About those $200m payrolls;

      Players making 5M+

      2005 ($208M)
      Alex Rodriguez $ 26,000,000 (Rangers)
      Derek Jeter $ 19,600,000
      Mike Mussina $ 19,000,000
      Randy Johnson $ 16,000,000 (D-Backs)
      Kevin Brown $ 15,714,286 (Dodgers)
      Jason Giambi $ 13,428,571
      Gary Sheffield $ 13,000,000
      Bernie Williams $ 12,357,143
      Jorge Posada $ 11,000,000
      Mariano Rivera $ 10,500,000
      Carl Pavano $ 9,000,000
      Hideki Matsui $ 8,000,000
      Steve Karsay $ 6,000,000
      Jaret Wright $ 5,666,667

      2008 (209M)
      Jason Giambi $ 23,428,571
      Alex Rodriguez $ 22,708,525
      Derek Jeter $ 21,600,000
      Andy Pettitte $ 16,000,000
      Bobby Abreu $ 15,000,000 (Philadelphia)
      Johnny Damon $ 13,000,000
      Hideki Matsui $ 13,000,000
      Jorge Posada $ 12,000,000
      Mike Mussina $ 11,070,423
      Mariano Rivera $ 10,500,000
      Kyle Farnsworth $ 5,666,667

      Most of those players I would resign, a handful of them were acquired in salary dumps, the rest were contracts signed by the Yanks.

    12. MJ
      September 16th, 2008 | 3:19 pm

      Ah, the post-script rubber-stamp for all of Cashman’s bad moves: “It seemed like the right thing to do at the time…”
      —————————
      How else to judge something but with the information available at the time?

    13. Raf
      September 16th, 2008 | 3:21 pm

      How else to judge something but with the information available at the time?
      ———–
      http://tinyurl.com/5upzhz

      :)

    14. MJ
      September 16th, 2008 | 3:23 pm

      Raf – Good one! Gotta get me one of those at Target this weekend!

    15. frankinsense
      September 16th, 2008 | 3:26 pm

      “Someone who’s THAT SLOW a learner should not be entrusted with a $200 million payroll, no?”

      Probably, but then they were making the playoffs every year. Now that they’ve embraced the new philosophy, I don’t see why it would be smart to shift back to the old one.

      And that’s the point, Steve. I don’t see how you can criticize the old AND the new way of doing things, unless it’s that axe again. He did learn, no matter how long it took. Some guys just bounce from job to job and never learn.

      More importantly, unless they promote Newman or Oppenheimer, I don’t see how an outsider doesn’t start by trading Hughes for Jamie Moyer.

    16. frankinsense
      September 16th, 2008 | 3:35 pm

      “I really wonder, though, whether in Cashman they have the right person at the top to make the judgment calls that will need to be made along the way.”

      Me too. Then he goes and makes the Nady and Pudge trades. The former was with mostly worthless prospects (save Tabata) and the latter was with a worthless piece.

      Yeah, Cashman has had to learn on the job – first with alot of interference and now much less so. I’m not trying to defend him, but I don’t see how anyone would be better in that job, especially with the current philosophy in place. What would Beane, for instance, do differently? Sign Frank Thomas?

    17. MJ
      September 16th, 2008 | 4:03 pm

      Then he goes and makes the Nady and Pudge trades. The former was with mostly worthless prospects (save Tabata) and the latter was with a worthless piece.
      ————————
      The Pudge trade was great in that they dumped Farnsworth and got an upgrade over Molina in one move.

      Although the Nady trade was a pretty good one, I’m still a bit worried from the standpoint that the Yanks sold super-duper low on Tabata and gave up young arms to get 1.5 years of career-league average Nady and a piece of garbage just as bad as Farnsworth.

    18. frankinsense
      September 16th, 2008 | 4:30 pm

      “Although the Nady trade was a pretty good one”

      Just like with Weaver and Vazquez and even Unit and Brown, you just have to remember this point. Cashman is just like you or me, and with the availability of stats today even moreso, and can’t see the future. Judge him today, and move on. Look back in five years.

      Besides, I was worried about the future of Bobby Kelly…

    19. MJ
      September 16th, 2008 | 4:36 pm

      Just like with Weaver and Vazquez and even Unit and Brown, you just have to remember this point. Cashman is just like you or me, and with the availability of stats today even moreso, and can’t see the future.
      ——————————–
      Agree 100% with that statement.

      I’ve never been a big Nady fan…always seen him as just an average player. Therefore, I’m not big on trading big-time prospects for average MLB players. But it’s done and at least the move was defensible, which is all it really has to be.

    20. frankinsense
      September 16th, 2008 | 5:51 pm

      For the same package, I would have preferred Bay. Problem is, Bay can’t play RF next year if necessary. Nady can. So there’s no way they acquire Bay to have three LF’s/DH’s on the 2009 roster. Sure, then maybe you trade one, but they had another option – Nady. And Marte looked like the best reliever on the trade market while giving the Yankee pen a lefty arm.

      Yeah, Cashman has been a slow learner. But there’s no doubt he’s learned. Why set him free to have someone else benefit from that training? And who replaces him? Those are the questions Steve has never answered ;)

    21. September 16th, 2008 | 11:51 pm

      Actually, I have answered that in the past.

      See:

      http://waswatching.com/2008/08/01/same-ol-cashman/

      and look for the comment I made on August 1st, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

    22. lenyce
      September 17th, 2008 | 12:18 pm

      Steve, how do we know Cashman had authority any of these decisions prior to 2006? Last time I checked Cashman did not have the authority a normal GM has until 2006. He was simply on of Stein’s advisor. Did he admit it was his idea not to sign Ted Lilly? Is there a report proving this? If so then yes he missed on not signing Ted Lilly. But he never had the say in this matters that gm’s for Minnesota, etc. had. Every time you post something about Cashman past 2006 I will continue to point this out.

    23. September 17th, 2008 | 12:36 pm

      Cashman went out and signed Pavano all on his own – that’s been well documented. So, if he made the case to bring in Pavano, he could have made the case to bring back Lilly, if he wanted to…

    24. lenyce
      September 17th, 2008 | 8:39 pm

      I see where you are getting at and I can respect your assumptions. Point taken. My point is that I have been reading this blog for a while, you have placed Cashman front and center for this season issues along with past seasons issues since he took the mantle of “GM.” And I can see where you would place blame on him for some things but not everything u say, because of the lack of evidence and the lack of actually ownership he had that came with the GM. I like you blog I just wish you where more careful with your words when placing blame on ppl… I mean seriously seriously, did anyone say that Pavano is made of glass and would be injured for 3 yrs nonstop, prior to his signing.

    25. September 17th, 2008 | 8:46 pm

      Actually, back in the day, I had a lot to say in terms of “Beware!” for those going after Pavano:

      http://www.netshrine.com/vbulletin2/showthread.php?t=16185

    26. September 27th, 2008 | 8:22 pm

      [...] if Brian Cashman doesn’t ignore Ted Lilly as a free agent and later elect not to trade for Johan Santana, then those two pitchers would not [...]

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