SleepersMarch 5, 2007

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Sleeper Watch

By Thomas Sheils

What comes to mind when you think of Ted Lilly? Is it the bloody nose of one John Gibbons after the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays took the lefty out of the fifth inning of a game in 2006? Or is it the pitcher who consistently baffled the Red Sox and was the lone Blue Jay to make the All-Star Game in 2004?

As a free agent this past off-season, Mr. Lilly signed a contract to pitch for the next four years in blue for the Chicago Cubs. The forty million dollars he commanded spoke to the experience he had gained as a pitcher in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, as he faced the two highest payrolls in the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees extensively. Additionally, with the advent of inter-league play, Mr. Lilly has pitched over sixty innings facing National League rosters and has come out smelling like a rose, posting a very respectable 2.98 earned run average. The likelihood of Mr. Lilly posting an earned run average of less than 3.00 over the course of a full season is highly unlikely; however, there is a blueprint that has had a somewhat successful transfer in 2005. Bronson Arroyo, in his first full season as a Cincinnati Red, posted a 3.29 ERA while watching his strikeout rate jump eighty-four percent.

To further strengthen the Chicago Cubs ability to win, they also added the most dynamic free agent on the market in Alfonso Soriano, they re-signed Aramis Ramirez, and if you add a healthy Derrek Lee, the offense will be much improved over last season. If Mr. Lilly is available in round 15 or higher of your fantasy draft, he is a solid option that has great potential upside and very little buzz.

Thomas Sheils is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Thomas in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of thomasps3.
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