Source: Dodgers, Cubs talk Lilly deal
SAN FRANCISCO -- Although any further trading-deadline activity by the Los Angeles Dodgers apparently will be pushed to the final hours Saturday, a major league source confirmed Friday the club is engaged in talks with the Chicago Cubs about a possible deal that would bring veteran left-hander Ted Lilly back to the team that originally drafted him in the 23rd round in 1996.
The source said the teams have discussed two versions of a possible trade involving Lilly: one that involves only Lilly and another that also involves Cubs infielder Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers along with Lilly.
ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and ESPN.com senior writer Jayson Stark have reported that Lilly is likely to be traded by the deadline.
To be clear, the Dodgers haven't zeroed in on a potential deal involving Lilly, and other deals with other clubs are still being discussed. But with the Dodgers having acquired veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals earlier this week, general manager Ned Colletti said Friday his efforts now are focused on adding to the pitching staff.
"For the time being, we have more or less exhausted the offensive piece," Colletti said. "We have made a lot of calls, but nothing else is really available right now."
Colletti, who isn't at liberty to comment on potential trades the Dodgers are discussing, did leave the door open for possibly adding another position player sometime in August, after the non-waiver deadline passes. Players who clear waivers in early August can still be traded through Aug. 31 without losing their postseason eligibility.
While it has been widely reported Dodgers owner Frank McCourt would be willing to add an additional $2 million to $3 million to the team's $83 million payroll -- the Dodgers already added $700,000 by taking on Podsednik -- Lilly is owed about $4.3 million for the rest of this final season of a four-year, $40 million contract. The Cubs would have to pick up a large portion of that commitment for the Dodgers to add Lilly.
Lilly, 34, has reached double figures in wins each of the past seven seasons, but he is just 3-8 this year despite a 3.69 ERA. That is due largely to a lack of run support, a problem that might not get significantly better if Lilly is traded to the Dodgers, a team that entered Friday night's game with the San Francisco Giants having scored exactly two runs in each of its past four games and having scored more than three runs in only three of its 14 games since the All-Star break.
Theriot, 30, is a speedster who entered Friday hitting .285 with a .321 on-base percentage and 16 stolen bases. He has experience at five positions, and although the vast majority of that experience has been at shortstop, he has enough experience at second base that he likely would take over most of the playing time at the position from the less experienced Blake DeWitt if he comes to Los Angeles.
Theriot has about $867,000 left on his $2.6 million contract for this season, which he was forced to accept after losing an arbitration hearing last winter. Unlike Lilly, who is a potential free agent at season's end, Theriot won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2012 season.
Addressing offensive woes
Although the team meeting the Dodgers held before Friday's game was nothing more than the usual meeting that takes place before the first game of every series, Torre said he did address the team's recent offensive woes.
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"It was very short," Torre said. "Basically, everybody in that room has had success, and we're certainly better than we have been hitting the ball. This sport is very unique because you don't have a chance to regroup like you do in other sports where you don't play every day. To me, I just think we're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves, knowing we're counting on each other and we're not doing a good job right now."
The ineptitude has been especially glaring in the latter stages of games, with the Dodgers going a combined 2-for-38 with 16 strikeouts from the fourth inning through the ninth during their losses to the first-place San Diego Padres on Wednesday and Thursday.
Torre said left fielder Manny Ramirez, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 20 because of a right-calf strain and is expected to miss at least two more weeks and possibly more, has appeared to be improving while working out at the team's spring training complex in Glendale, Ariz.
Torre said Ramirez probably will return to Los Angeles around the middle of next week, at which time his situation will be evaluated and he possibly could be sent on a minor league rehabilitation assignment, which theoretically would be the final step in the process of getting him back onto the Dodgers' active roster.
Torre also said reserve outfielder Reed Johnson, who is on the DL because of a lumbar strain in his back but is with the team on its current trip, is improving but won't begin a rehabilitation assignment at least until the team gets home next week.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
July 31 MLB Trade Deadline
After Saturday, players must pass through waivers in order to be traded. MLB teams are racing the clock to beat the 4 p.m. ET deadline in order to avoid that step. Trade Deadline Live