Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers

Word is coming out that the long-awaited rumor of Ted Lilly to the Dodgers is happening, and the Boys in Blue will also be receiving infielder Ryan Theriot when the dust settles. However, for a Dodgers team that is currently seven games out of the race in the NL West, this move is a bit puzzling.

Ted Lilly is not having that good of a season, despite what the shiny 3.63 ERA will lead you to believe. His 4.50 FIP (4.49 xFIP) means he actually is having a pretty medicore year, especially since he’s coming off a solid 2009. In a post detailing Sell High Candidates on July 12th, I wrote the following of Lilly:

Lilly is comimg off of a huge 2009 where he posted a 3.65 FIP and 3.98 xFIP, good for 3.7 WAR. His K and BB rates, however, have been disturbingly poor this season, as his K/BB went from 4.19 last year to 2.71 this year. But for teams that aren’t looking too deeply at those numbers, Lilly’s 4.08 ERA may be appealing. Teams will envision him as a 3-4 starter in a good rotation, when really he’s just not pitching well right now. If the Cubs could pry away outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis from the Mets, it would be a steal.

I’d say Lilly’s BABIP hasn’t fully regress at .261, but he may be a pitcher who is able to get low BABIPs against (stress the “may”), as his career BABIP is .285. Here are his marks over the latter part of his career:

2002: .241
2003: .303
2004: .272
2005: .301
2006: .300
2007: .272
2008: .283
2009: .270
2010: .261

Still, Lilly’s peripherals are not holding up, as the lefty is striking out less batters and walking more. Still, ZiPS thinks he’s good for a 4.19 FIP for the rest of the season, and he’s a free agent after the year. The Dodgers currently have Carlos Monasterios starting games, but the usual reliever has a 5.14 xFIP and ZiPS thinks he’d have a 5.68 FIP the rest of the way. While that’s an upgrade of about ~1 run per game, the Dodgers probably could’ve found a replacement pitcher for Monasterios that didn’t cost as much as they gave up (prospects Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit).

Is Lilly the tipping point in the Dodgers’ playoff run? Probably not, and neither is Ryan Theriot, also acquired in the deal. Jamey Carroll, the current Dodgers second baseman, has a .322 wOBA thanks to a .374 OBP. ZiPS thinks he’s good for a .311 mark for the rest of the season. Theriot currently has a .291 wOBA and ZiPS likes him for .310 for the rest of the season. Not much of an upgrade; in fact, probably not an upgrade at all. However, Theriot is gritty, and looks like a younger version of the Janitor from the show Scrubs (who, ironically, played the first baseman for the Cubs in the movie Rookie of the Year, an all-time classic). Moreover, the Dodgers are trading Blake DeWitt in the deal, who has a .319 wOBA and is predicted to go .323 the rest of the way via ZiPS. So the Dodgers trade for one second baseman for a worse one while probably cutting playing time for another good one. That doesn’t help you make the playoffs.

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Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat

27 Responses to “Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers”

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  1. Damon says:

    Neds an idiot

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  2. Scott says:

    Faulty analysis Pat. Anybody can look at his YTD numbers without accounting for his coming off of a shoulder surgery earlier this year. Take a look at his stats over the last 5 or 6 starts. He’s turning the corner, and starting to resemble the pitcher he was last year.

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    • Pat Andriola says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Yeah, I’m sure it didn’t matter that in his last seven starts he faced the Astros twice, struggling Phillies, Mariners, and Pirates. As I said, ZiPS likes him for a FIP slightly above 4 the rest of the way, which is very reasonable. It still doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.

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      • ray says:

        I know you are here to give your opinion on deals, but the Dodgers gave up a second baseman who wasn’t going to amount to much, and neither are the prospects they gave up.
        Lilly is much better than any 5th starter alternative they had in the minors or majors, and Theriot is better in the field than Dewitt.
        Ned did a fine job in both of his deals today, giving up next to nothing while improving the rotation and bullpen with Dotel.

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  3. Scott says:

    Last time I looked, those were MLB teams. It’s not like he’s beating Bob’s Tavern at the local park in a 16″ softball game.

    Plus, the Cubs are picking up half of his salary for the remainder of the year, so the Dodgers are on the hook for 2.06 mil. That means he has to be worth .5 wins the remainder of the season to justify what they’re actually paying him. Seems very possible. Monasterios is currently sporting a -.4 WAR. Clear upgrade.

    Maybe you could share with me what the worth of the two prospects coming back to the Cubs is in dollars?

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    • Pat Andriola says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Brett Wallach is a 21 year old starting pitcher in A ball with a 92:43 K:BB ratio in 84.2 innings. Kyle Smit (22) is a relief pitcher just called up to Double-A who had a 46:10 K:BB in 50.2 IP in High-A.

      I never said Lilly wasn’t an upgrade. In fact, I wrote in the artivle, “While that’s an upgrade of about ~1 run per game…” so I don’t know why you are arguing whether or not it is an upgrade.

      The question is: does the marginal upgrade in the starting pitcher swap justify the prospects, cash, and the trade in second basemen?

      No. Lilly’s WAR added this season is pretty irrelevant if the Dodgers don’t make the playoffs considering he’s a free agent. Considering their position, I don’t like their chances. They may win 85 games instead of 84, or something of the like, but if he isn’t the tipping point in their race I don’t see how it makes sense at all.

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  4. knebworth says:

    Don’t dismiss the trade just yet. Lilly will pitch well in Dodger Stadium and The Riot is way better than Joyce DeWitt. The Cubs will pay the majority of Lilly’s salary and Theriot makes nothing in baseball terms. It’s not a bad trade. Give it some time before you bash it.

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    • Pat Andriola says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      See my response to Scott above. I don’t know why you think Theriot is better than DeWitt.

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    • Rob says:

      And he isn’t even worth the little he is making. Theriot could very well be done as a regular player and he’ll cost like $4-5m next season.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Joyce DeWitt


      “Come and knock on your door ….”

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  5. Shamus says:

    After a couple of starts in April, Lily’s K-rate has improved steadily from May to June to July as he rebuilt his shoulder strength. Reportedly he’s finally hitting 90 mph with his fastball again. He’s had and will continue to have a nice season. From a fantasy perspective, I like his prospects for getting wins in LA. The Cubs just couldn’t score runs for him.

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    • baty says:

      The Cubs are a disease this year resulting in lots of wacky instability and undefined roles. I wouldn’t live or die by any numbers coming out of that place.

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    • Joe P. says:

      The Dodgers offense isn’t exactly dynamic at present. Inserting a second baseman who is inferior both offensively and defensively to DeWitt and lucky to be a wash with Jamey Carroll isn’t likely to help them score or prevent runs and, in turn, help Lilly win games.

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  6. baty says:

    If you’re the Dodgers, why not take a chance… They are taking a risk, wasting a few extra bucks… it’s sort of a desperation attempt. They are definitely candidates for going through some rebuilding headaches very soon anyway. The Western division has lots of holes, so trying to jump 2 teams and a 7 game disadvantage is a major risk, but it isn’t out of the question. I think it’s a reasonable deal, even if it isn’t the smartest thing to do.

    The deal is for a clear upgrade in the SP rotation with Dewitt and Theriot both being very borderline players. You have the options for cheap replacement MIs in Dee Gordon and Ivan De Jesus still sitting around as well.

    Also… Why even try to estimate the worth of these two prospects… You’re talking about a 21 year old pitcher in A ball, and a 22 year old who just left A+ ball (not a very promising platform for estimation). Any analysis outside of their raw tools would be a stretch.

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  7. MM says:

    Hell, maybe someone in the Dodgers organization can teach Theriot how to run the bases.

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    • JY says:

      I think you’re forgetting we have a player named Matt Kemp. If his baserunning is the result of being tutored by those within the Dodger organization, then I’m not holding out too much hope for Theriot.

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  8. ck says:

    Does this mean the Cubs will have to stick Zambrano back in the rotation?

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    • jumbo says:

      They’re bringing up Thomas Diamond from AAA instead. As a Cub fan I’m glad they’re going to take a look at him. Zambrano’s not going anywhere

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  9. Ed Nelson says:

    It’s a little funny to hear all the barking in Chicago about giving up Theriot. Hendry has had a few good moments as a GM and this is one of them.

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    • jumbo says:

      I don’t think any informed Cubs fans are upset about losing Theriot. If the team tendered him another contract he would earn at least $3MM (roughly), and Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker would cost another $1.5MM if they were to stay on the team.

      DeWitt lets them move on from all three, with Darwin Barney ready to step in as the backup middle infielder.

      And we got a couple arms, too. Kudos to Hendry for getting something for these guys.

      Hendry had discussed trading Lilly and then resigning him in the offseason, and he appears to have picked the perfect team to trade him to for that plan to work out. The Dodgers will likely not offer Lilly arbitration and risk paying him $10-12MM for next season, so the Cubs shouldn’t lose any picks if they do sign him again.

      I wonder if Lilly would end up with 10-5 right if he resigned? Probably not, I guess

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  10. Dann M says:

    I came to this article expecting to see the most important aspect of Ted Lilly’s season discussed: his home/road splits. Everyone knows that Ted is an extreme fly-ball pitcher (only 29% GB in 2010/34% career). He has a 3.69 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Base stats look good this year until you get to the 1.46 HR/9. But home/road splits tell a story.

    In 10 home (Wrigley Field) starts in 2010, Ted Lilly has allowed 14 home runs in 67.1 IP, for 1.87 HR/9. His slash line at home is .230/.278/.426 (.704 OPS), with a 4.28 ERA and 1.099 WHIP.

    In 8 road starts, Lilly has only allowed 5 homers in 49.2 IP, equivalent to 0.91 HR/9. His slash line of .245/.296/.391 (.688 OPS) and 1.188 WHIP are similar to his home line, but his ERA is only 2.90.

    The same thing happened to Lilly in 2007, while there was no such split in 2008. Last year, more were hit on the road, but 4 happened in one game @HOU and his rate (1.1 HR/9) was a career-best mark.

    Also worth noting is that Lilly has a -0.6 WAR as a batter according to FanGraphs. It’s not that big of a deal, on the surface, but his -0.68 WPA as a hitter when his WPA as a pitcher is only +0.46 (in 2 more games, starts in AL parks). He is only 2/4 on sacrifice attempts and, going from one anemic offense to another, he has proven himself largely incapable of helping himself (look at the play-by-play from his start against FLA in May).

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  11. CircleChange11 says:

    Seeing that teams will walk a batter to face the pitcher with men on, I wonder how many pitchers have a negative WPA (pitching and hitting combined)?

    For SPs, WPA seems like it is difficult to accumulate since anything that happens in the 1st 5 innings doesn’t rack up a lot of WPA (unless it is extreme).

    The WPA with the bat could also be due to the manager not PH for the SP with runners on in something like the bottom of the 5th, trying to get another IP out of him, when bringing in a PH would be a better move. MGL at Tango’s blog has been doing a lot of writing about this situation.

    I know a few have mentioned a pitcher’s contributions at the plate when looking at a pitcher’s value and even possibly as a “tie-breaker” in CYA voting, but it has minimal influence (such as Wainwright’s “prowess” at the plate).

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  12. CDK says:

    Couldn’t the Cubs have gotten more for Lilly in the form of draft picks had they kept him and offered him arbitration? Wouldn’t they receive 2 1st round picks if he was classified as a Type A FA?

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    • CDK says:

      If the Dodgers get those picks now, it seems like this deal heavily favors LA by giving them a better chance to win this year and also a very good chance to pick 2 prospects better than Wallach and Smit.

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  13. Matt Murton says:

    Lilly would likely accept arby though, and a declining Ted Lilly at 11-12 million is not worth it.

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