Cubs

Lilly, Dempster bonded by more than baseball

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Lilly, Dempster bonded by more than baseball

Friday, April 22, 2011
Posted: 4:50 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Theodore Roosevelt Lilly III slid headfirst into second, trying to steal a base in the third inning of a Class-A game.

This was April 2010, less than six months after shoulder surgery, and Lilly got his Peoria Chiefs uniform dirty during a rehab start.

The Cubs had only invested 40 million in Lillys left arm. Why risk it?

For Lilly, the question was even more ridiculous. It didnt matter if it was sandlot or Nintendo or the majors. If the object of the game is to score more runs than the other team, then he will do whatever it takes. Thats what he was taught as a kid, how he was raised in a military family.

It will be the same way on Saturday, when Lilly starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers opposite Ryan Dempster. But as Lilly talked about his close friend in the visiting dugout at Wrigley Field, a tough guy looked like he was trying to hold back tears.

I cant sit here and tell you how much respect I have for him as a person first and foremost, Lilly said Friday. What I was able to learn from being around him the way that he treated people, the way that he loved this opportunity to pitch in the major leagues and the way that he would deal with adversity, off the field and on the field

Yeah, wow, without getting emotional I dont know how anyone could have created someone that was as unselfish as Ryan.

Dempster and Lilly will probably go out dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. Together they drilled a sense of professionalism into the Cubs pitching staff, never pointing fingers or complaining about run support.

I want to see which one drills the other one first, Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson joked. Im sure theyll be going back and forth yelling at each other.

But the two pitchers are bonded by more than baseball. Dempster was reminded of that on Friday morning as his foundation hosted a large group of medical staffers and families dealing with DiGeorge syndrome, or 22q, the genetic disorder that afflicts his two-year-old daughter.

Dempster invited them to Wrigley Field so they would know that theyre not alone. Thats what Lilly whos worked extensively with those same charities did for Dempster.

He was a big help to me going through everything when Riley was born, Dempster said. You come to work and he broadened his shoulders to help take some of the pressure off me and that relieved a lot of the stress.

Hes contributed financially, emotionallyits been overwhelming. Hes a true, true friend of mine and it shows all the time.

Dempster one of the most accessible players on the team politely declined to talk to reporters when the Cubs traded Lilly at last seasons deadline for cash, utility infielder Blake DeWitt and two pitching prospects.

It bothered Dempster but worked out for Lilly, who signed a three-year, 33 million extension with the Dodgers.

Lilly was central to Tribune Co.s huge free-agent spending spree in the winter of 2006. He helped the Cubs win two division titles and gave them 47 wins, 113 starts and a 3.70 ERA in three-plus seasons.

I had built up these dreams and aspirations of trying to be a member of the Cubs team that won the World Series, Lilly said. We fell short of that, so theres a gap in the experience in that way. I thought that was kind of one of the responsibilities that (Alfonso) Soriano and myself had coming over here.

(But) I do believe that we pushed ourselves. We continued to look for ways to get better. We werent able to get it done, so I guess its something we have to live with. But that would have been the ultimate.

Now 35, Lilly looks back on the friendships he made in Chicago. He thought about Ron Santo and all the positive energy the late broadcaster always brought to the ballpark. This became a second home.

On a stage like this, Lilly cant wait to compete against Dempster again.

The fondest memories of my life are living here in this city, Lilly said.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Whether the Cubs trade a member of their position player core this winter — i.e. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras — is to be determined. Both have been fixtures in rumors this offseason, and the Cubs may make a deal to replenish their barren farm system and retool their roster with the organization’s long-term stability in mind.

Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is a different story.

No, the Cubs won’t be trading Darvish this winter, despite the inquiries they received at the Winter Meetings this week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

A year ago, this would be an entirely different conversation. Darvish was coming off a disappointing debut season on the North Side in which he made eight starts and posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings. He didn’t throw a single big-league pitch after May 20 due to a lingering arm issue that led to surgery last November.

2019 was only Year 2 of the lucrative six-year contract Darvish signed in February 2018. But between the injury and his struggles before it that season, the narrative entering 2019 was shifting towards Darvish being a potential bust.

The narrative around Darvish is obviously much different now, thanks to the stellar second half performance he put together last season. In 13 starts, the 33-year-old delivered a 2.76 ERA, striking out 118 batters compared to a mere seven walks in 81 2/3 innings.

Not only was Darvish walking the walk, but he was talking the talk. He was determined to turn things around after posting a 5.01 ERA in the first half, asking then manager Joe Maddon to start the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break. The result? Six innings of two-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. Darvish's comeback was officially on.

Bust? Darvish is far from it now. He opted in to the remaining four years of his contract earlier this offseason, calling the Cubs "perfect" for him.

If the Cubs were entering a rebuild, fielding Darvish trade offers would make plenty of sense. He's owed $81 million through 2023, a bargain compared to the deals Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million — Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million — Nationals) earned this offseason. Darvish's contract is desirable, and trading him would help alleviate the Cubs' notoriously tight payroll situation, freeing up money for them to put towards other needs.

But the Cubs aren’t rebuilding, and trading Darvish would create a tremendous hole in a rotation with plenty of uncertainty after next season. José Quintana is set to hit free agency after 2020 and Jon Lester could join him, if his 2021 option doesn’t vest (he must pitch 200 innings next season for that to occur). Heck, even Tyler Chatwood's deal is up after 2020.

In one season, Darvish has elevated himself to the No. 1 pitcher in the Cubs rotation. The Cubs won't be better next season if they trade Bryant or Contreras, but they'd still be competitive and acquire assets for the future.

One player doesn't make a team in baseball, but the Cubs need Darvish in their rotation, not someone else's. Unless they're absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Darvish isn't going anywhere.

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB 2019 Winter Meetings come to an end

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NBC Sports Chicago

Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB 2019 Winter Meetings come to an end

SportsTalk Live is on location in San Diego for the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings.

0:00- Chuck Garfien, Tony Andracki and Vinnie Duber join Kap to recap the Winter Meetings. Tony was right-- the Cubs didn't make a move. Plus, should the White Sox have done more in San Diego?

12:00- Legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons joins Kap and Chuck. The talk about the price for pitching and what the Cubs might do with Kris Bryant. Plus, Gammons talks about a text he received saying the White Sox were talking with the Red Sox about Andrew Benintendi and David Price. Would that make sense for the Southsiders?

20:00- White Sox World Series winning closer Bobby Jenks joins Kap to discuss his emotional article in The Players Tribune. They discuss his injuries with the Red Sox, the back surgery that almost cost him his life and then his downward spiral into addiction.

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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