I'm not very good at writing the Chuck Norris-like Ted Lilly sayings. I'll leave that up to the rest of you. But I do find it pretty fitting that the story of Lilly joining the Cubs takes on its own level of legend, through the stories of Jim Hendry finishing the deal from a hospital bed.
Lilly recently rejoined the club as a special assistant. But fans look at Lilly as a favorite because of his three and a half seasons pitching for the North Siders. While some looked at Lilly's 4 year, $40 million deal as an overspend, clearly Jim Hendry knew he was getting a legend in the making. OK, maybe not clearly. But it worked out, so we'll take it.
Lilly's 15-year big-league career ended following last season. The lefty pitched for six teams, starting with the Montreal Expos in 1999. He compiled a record of 130-113 with an ERA of 4.14. From the more advanced perspective, Lilly sported a career ERA+ of 106 and was worth 26.3 WAR over his career.
One of the reasons some analysts questioned the signing of Lilly was his overall average performances up to that point and the fact that the Cubs were getting the lefty's age 31-34 seasons. Of course to Ted, age was just a number and he put up some of the best seasons of his career.
As a Cub, Lilly went 47-34 with an ERA of 3.70. His ERA+ was 122 with a WHIP of 1.144 and he posted WAR seasons of 3.7, 2.9, 3.7, and 2.5 (all Fangraphs, the last one split with the Dodgers).
Only two things come to mind as a downside to Lilly's tenure as a Cub. The first is the postseason. He pitched poorly against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 2 of the 2007 NLDS. Lilly famously spiked his glove after surrendering a homer to Chris Young. But, Lilly stood tall after the game, owning his poor performance. And Lilly didn't get the chance to redeem himself the next season as the Cubs were swept in the postseason by the Dodgers.
The other downside was the sad return the Cubs got when the dealt Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers for Brett Wallach, Kyle Smit, and Blake DeWitt. Ugh.
But I'm sure we'd all rather remember Ted Lilly's toughness. You know, like this. And that's the attitude we hope he brings back to the Cubs.