Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Strange Case of Milton Bradley

Milton Bradley was recently sent home by the Chicago Cubs for complaining of excessive negativity around the organization, and for being a huge doofus.

Few will argue that the Cubs screwed up big time when they signed Bradley, and this isn't just a "hindsight is 20/20" kind of thing. They gave a guy a 2 year contract worth $10 million per year (with an option for a third, though I can't remember whose option it is) after a career year at the age of 30 while mostly playing DH in a tiny little ballpark. Oh, and there were better, cheaper options out there like Raul Ibanez and Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu.

Anyway, my question is this. Do you want Milton Bradley? Because you can probably have him. Before you start throwing things at me and calling me an idiot, consider the following:

1. Milton Bradley gets on base.

His power may have dried up a bit, but he was never actually very powerful to begin with. What Milton does very well to this day is to not make outs. Even in a down year he still posted a .378 OBP. He was always miscast as an RBI guy for the Cubs. Milton should hit somewhere near the top of the lineup. Chicago radio guys love to harp on Milton's Paltry 40 RBIs, but even in his career year he only drove in 77. Milton walks. Frequently. If you bat him out of position, you have no one to blame but yourself.

2. Milton will be cheap.

The Cubs owe Milton at least another $10 million bucks, and by all accounts, no one wants him, which means to deal him and get him out of the clubhouse will require the Cubs to eat a bunch of that money. Probably close to all of that money.

3. The Brewers, as always, lack OBP.

There are 2 (debatably 3-4) Brewers who are skilled at getting on base. They are Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun (and perhaps Felipe Lopez and Casey McGehee). Otherwise you have this:

Kendall - .326
Hardy - .300
Cameron - .348
Hart - .325
Escobar - .315
Gamel - .331
Counsell - .354 (hey, not bad)
Weeks - .340

In the last 5 seasons, Milton Bradley has OBPs of .402, .373, .414, .436, .378.

But he's a screwup!

I still think the screwup thing is overrated. If he would have hit .300 with 27 HRs, the Cubs would not have cared. His perceived lack of production was the primary driving force behind Milton's off-the-field issues.

But the Cubs wouldn't trade in the division!

90% of the time I would agree, and that may still be the case here, but what if you have no other buyers? And they may view this as passing a cancer onto a division rival.

But he's terrible defensively!

Yeah, that's true. It would definitely be a tradeoff. But it's not like Corey Hart is a defensive All-Star to begin with, and it would be nice to have a guy who is always on base for Fielder and Braun. I can live with some lousy defense.

I don't think there's a chance in hell that this happens, but I actually do think it would be worth pursuing. And at the risk of engaging in bullshit sports cliches, I actually think Milton Bradley might play better against the Cubs (and in general) with revenge on his mind.

Finally, if you did get him and it did work out, it would make Cubs fans miserable. That's worth something, right?


tracker said...

Yep, I want Bradley. I especially wanted him two offseasons ago when he was cheap, but if he'd be cheap again, definitely, in a limited role. Put him in a rf platoon (he's better vs lhp) to minimize the damage his glove will do, and make him the first bat off the bench.

tracker said...

From Cot's, on the Bradley contract:

"2011 may become $12M club option with $2M buyout if:
Bradley has more than 75 days on DL in 2009, or
Bradley is on DL at end of 2009 season with specific injury and not on active roster by 4/15/2010"

He's not actually on the DL, is he? Or could the Cubs cite "being an asshole" as the "specific injury" they need to kill the 2011 guarantee? Then, next spring they just have to say "yep, still an asshole" and keep him inactive till 4/15.

PaulNoonan said...

No way. The union would never allow that.

If I was in the Cubs front office and tried it, I'd categorize the injury as "inflamed asshole."