Former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had a cardiac moment when he signed lefty Ted Lilly to a four-year, $40 million deal at the 2006 winter meetings.
Things seemed a little more subdued Tuesday as the current Cubs front office named Lilly as a special assistant to general manager Jed Hoyer and president Theo Epstein.
The Cubs say Lilly will "spend time with the club during spring training, visit the club's minor league affiliates during the season, evaluate amateur players leading up to the draft and perform professional scouting assignments."
Theodore Roosevelt Lilly always was known as a tough competitor on the field, so perhaps some of his duties will include instruction on pitching up-and-in, legging out and extra-base hit or sliding hard into home plate while trying to score a run.
"His reputation with the Cubs is sterling, which is fantastic, and not only as a person but as a competitor," Hoyer told reporters at spring training in Mesa, Ariz. "I really liked what he had to say. A lot of guys want to get back in and don't want to work that much, and he made it clear he wants to work and wants to get involved in scouting.
"I think we'll use him in a variety of ways. He feels he has a pretty good eye and likes to try to evaluate but also was really humble and knows he has to learn how to do it. He was excited to get back involved and I think we'll feel out how to use him."
The 38-year-old Lilly recently retired after a major-league career that covered parts of 15 seasons. Overall, he was 130-113 with a 4.14 ERA.
As a Cub, from 2007 until being traded to the Dodgers in July 2010, he went 47-34 with a 3.70 ERA and a WHIP of 1.14. His wins above replacement (WAR) while with the Cubs was 15.4.
Lilly was part of the two NL Central-winning teams in 2007-08. In the middle of his signing with the Cubs, Hendry was taken from the winter meetings to a hospital while suffering from chest discomfort. Lilly's hard-nosed ways were appreciated by the Cubs and their fans, and Lilly seemed to enjoy playing in Chicago.
"The experiences I had the first couple years here winning were incredible in the sense that we put together a team that was expected to win," he told reporters. "We didn't accomplish the ultimate goal of winning a World Series, but it was such a great experience. We had so many professionals in the clubhouse and guys who went about it the right way. I think that's why I'll always refer to those two years in Chicago as the best years I've had as a player."