Here are a couple of things that tell you all you need to know about the world of professional sports, baseball and the Cubs:
Lilly and Zambrano: Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is doing all he can this week to ensure the team says goodbye to pitcher Ted Lilly by Saturday's nonwaiver trading deadline.
Cubs scouting report
Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies at Coors Field
TV: Channel 9 Friday and Saturday; Comcast SportsNet Sunday
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Ryan Dempster (8-7) vs. Jeff Francis (3-3) Friday at 8:10 p.m.; Tom Gorzelanny (6-5) vs. Jason Hammel (7-6) Saturday at 7:10 p.m.; Carlos Silva (10-4) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (3-2) Sunday at 2:10 p.m.
At a glance: The Cubs swept the Rockies in two at Wrigley Field on May 17-18. The Rockies are trying to stay in the NL West race. Star first baseman Todd Helton (back) begins an injury-rehab stint in the minor leagues Friday and won't be back until Monday. Center fielder Carlos Gonzalez leads the Rockies in most key offensive categories. The Rockies entered Thursday fourth in runs, third in OBP, fourth in homers and 11th in ERA (4.13). The Cubs were 13th in runs, 10th in OBP, sixth in homers and eighth in ERA (4.05). Saturday is the nonwaiver trading deadline, and the Cubs are looking to deal Ted Lilly. The Rockies reportedly have interest in Cubs second baseman Ryan Theriot.
Next: Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field, Monday-Wednesday
- Bruce Miles
At the same time, the Cubs are preparing to say hello again to Carlos Zambrano.
Goodbye, Ted Lilly.
Hello, Carlos Zambrano.
What's wrong with that picture? Plenty.
Having lived through major-league baseball's money explosion over the past three decades, I understand perfectly that salary-dumping, bad contracts and no-trade clauses are the order of the day.
But let's strip all that away for a moment and get down to baseball at its core, the game.
Which of these two pitchers would you rather have? Whom would you rather build around? Whom would you rather have mentor young pitchers?
When you look only at the baseball, it's not even close.
A couple weeks back in Los Angeles, I corralled pitcher Ryan Dempster and asked him about the possibility of the Cubs trading Lilly.
"I hope that's not the case, and I hope he's here not just this year but past this year," Dempster said. "He's a guy that's always accountable for whatever he does. Ultimately, when he comes here every day, he wants the team to win whether he's pitching or not. That's the great thing about him."
Sure, Lilly has let his temper get the best of him at times, such as when he slammed his glove down after giving up a homer in Arizona during the 2007 playoffs, and when he came out onto the field to argue a call during a game he wasn't pitching.
But in neither case did he show up a teammate. And you never heard Lilly complain even once this year when the offense didn't get him any runs. If the Cubs lost 2-1, Lilly put the blame on himself for not pitching better.
Zambrano's antics and selfish behavior have been well documented.
Yet, he'll be staying (until Hendry can try to peddle him in the off-season), and Lilly will be going.
Part of the reason is that Hendry bestowed a five-year, $91.5 million contract extension on Zambrano during the 2007 season while Lilly now is nearing the end of a reasonable four-year, $40 million deal.
Talk about a sport turned on its head.
Derrek Lee's situation: First baseman Derrek Lee did what he had the right to do recently when he declined a trade to the Angels, citing his status as a player with at least 10 years of major-league service and five with the same club.
His main reason: family.
And for this, Lee was roundly criticized (and worse) on the airwaves in Chicago and online at the various baseball sites, including our own blog, Chicago's Inside Pitch.
Lee's loyalty, dedication and will to win were called into question, and some fans said he should be booed at Wrigley Field for not wanting to leave.
Since 2000, here are the number of games Lee has played in each season: 158, 158, 162 (that's all of them), 155, 161, 158, 50 (he suffered a broken wrist), 150, 155 and 141. Yeah, this guy's a slacker.
Lee also has been in the postseason, twice with the Cubs, and I'm sure he'd be glad to show you his World Series ring he won with the Marlins in 2003. Lee also played for his country in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
No, Lee doesn't speak loudly. He doesn't have to.
And if he's looking out for the interests of his two children, he should be admired, not vilified, especially in an age when so many athletes place family values too far down on their list of priorities.
Lee could well be gone at the end of this season. Until then, he's a guy worth celebrating and appreciating, not demonizing.