Hey, everybody. It’s that time again. Well, sorta. To be honest, with the trade deadline looming, there’s not a ton going on with the Cubs right now. It’s sort of like there may or may not be a storm gathering that will bring thunder, lightning and torrents of rain comments when ____________ is traded. In fact, probably the biggest story over the last 24 hours or so is about who almost certainly will not be traded. I refer of course to:

Derrek Lee’s decision to reject Angels trade offer.  As widely reported yesterday, DLee decided to invoke his 10-and-5 rights and stay with the Cubs after, apparently, Jim Hendry spoke to him about a proposed deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And it’s here that I’d like to point out that any hand-wringing over Jim Hendry giving Derrek a no-trade clause is a waste of time and energy because, under a collective bargaining agreement with the players, any guy who has been in the league for 10 years and spent at least five years with his current team has the right to reject a trade. Having said that, I would agree that Hendry deserves some criticism for giving NTCs to guys such as Kosuke Fukudome (who was never a sure bet to succeed spectacularly in America) and Jeff Samardzija (who’s … well … Jeff Samardzija).

DLee’s decision has provoked a wide array of, shall we say, interesting reactions from Cubs fans - including a few right here on VFTB in Daniel’s post yesterday. Although I’ll admit it would have been nice to add something to the farm system for Derrek, who may be gone after this season and will almost certainly be out of the picture within the next two or three, I don’t quite understand the violent reaction some people are having. It’s unlikely any of the prospects that the Cubs picked up for DLee would’ve been difference makers in the next couple of seasons -  if ever. The Angels are a good baseball organization, but their farm system is generally ranked in the middle of the pack. Now if the Rangers really had been interested (which they weren’t), that’s another story. But, in any case, Derrek will be 35 this year and is having a down season (as we all know). How much trade value do you really think he has?

And as for those of you who think his decision is somehow an indictment on his willingness to win, I’d say, “Win where?” With the Angels? They’re in third place right now – 8.5 games out. And, yeah, they make the playoffs a lot but haven’t made it to the World Series since they won it in 2002. Obviously if he went there he’d have a chance at playing in the postseason – a 4.1% chance, according to coolstandings.com. This isn’t the Yankees were talking about here.

Derrek told reporters yesterday that he “agonized” over this decision, and I believe him. He’s got his reasons and none of us fans know what they are. His decision probably does involve his family, which, as far as I can tell, does live here in the Chicago area most of the year. And we should all bear in mind the tragic situation with his daughter. Or perhaps he simply wants to finish the contract with the Cubs that he agreed to. I’m OK with that, too. He’s been one of the greatest Cubs first basemen in the team’s history. And his bat wasn’t a problem in the ’07 and ’08 playoffs. So let’s say our goodbyes while we can  – and respect the man’s choice.

Ted Lilly update: Still here.  Wait, wait … let me check Twitter. OK, yeah, Ted Lilly is still here. But, as I type this, it appears the Oswalt-to-the-Phillies is mere minutes from going through. Once that happens, we could soon be deluged with renewed Lilly rumors.

According to Joel Sherman, the Mets are out. And, presumably, the Phillies would be, too. But other teams, including the Twins and Dodgers, could still be in play. I suggested a while back that LA could be a landing spot for Ted because, well, they need starting pitching depth desperately. But I’d also reiterate that Randy Wolf, a very similiar pitcher to Ted, threw well for the Dodgers last season. He’s been straight-up awful for the Brew Crew this season. Mwahahahaha. All in all, my gut still says Ted will be traded, but I wouldn’t mind watching him finish out his Cubs contract either. 

On Jim Hendry: Just sayin’.  I know it’s fashionable to bash Jimbo these days. And I know there’s a lengthy discussion on His Hendryness here. But just a passing thought that’s fluttered through my head in the last couple days: Jim made a couple non-moves in the last year that have turned out well:

Exhibit A: One Rich Harden, who’s currently on the DL (shocking!) and made on 13 starts for the division-leading Rangers this season. His numbers are also horrific: 5.68 ERA (6.31 FIP 5.72 xFIP). Oh, and his strikeouts are down.

Exhibit B: One Reed Johnson, who many fans clamored for Jimbo to bring back and perhaps platoon with Sam Fuld in center field. (Not a bad, low-cost idea on its face, but I think we can all agree Marlon Byrd has been fun to watch at least.) Well, he’s on the DL with back spasms (second time this season). RJ is also hitting .291/.316/.386 (.303 wOBA) in only 135 plate appearances. I know, I know … Xavier Nady hasn’t been much better. In fact, he’s been worse. But, hey, Tyler Colvin has been awesome!

Well, that’s really all I’ve got for today. I could mention that, as noted last time, Big Z is expected to join the team in Denver tomorrow and offer a full and heartfelt apology -  which still should’ve happened before the ESPN interview, Carlos! It’s not like they couldn’t have set up a camera in your hotel room over the weekend! Four freakin’ days to show your teammates some respect, my man! Four freakin’ days!

Ahem. Good luck and God bless.

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