What's to be done with Milton Bradley?
- The final words, since this is my site, go to me. As noted above, this move was doomed to fail from January 6, the day it happened, for both on- and off-field reasons. It's almost certain that Milton Bradley has played his last game in a Cubs uniform, and for that I am glad. He's been a distraction and did not produce on the field. Why would you want a guy like that on your team? The situation is somewhat comparable, though more extreme, to the situation seven years ago involving Todd Hundley, also signed as a big-name free agent and who had the same production and complaining problems, although he simply complained TO the media, not ABOUT them, and didn't affect his teammates as negatively as Bradley has.
Jim Hendry was able to turn Hundley into two productive players who helped the Cubs win the NL Central in 2003. Perhaps he can perform the same thing with Bradley; it's been suggested by some that the Cubs might be able to send him to Toronto for Vernon Wells. Though Wells' contract is almost as onerous as Alfonso Soriano's, I'd do it. There's at least a chance that Wells will return to previous levels of production, and the alternative is probably simply to send Bradley home and pay him for doing nothing.
I never rooted against Milton Bradley when he was wearing a Cubs uniform. Had he produced, he would have helped the Cubs win games and that would have been a good thing. But starting from the injury in Milwaukee and the brief suspension that resulted from his tirade in his first Wrigley Field at-bat, Bradley was never a good fit for the Cubs, either emotionally or in the lineup. I'll be very happy when this chapter in Cubs history is just that -- history.
The sum of those risks meant Bradley was worth perhaps a one-year contract for $8 million -- hey, why not take a chance on a guy coming off a fantastic season in the American League? -- or maybe even a two-year deal for $15 million. But three years and $30 million? Madness. I didn't like the deal when it happened, and I terribly underestimated how awful it would be. (Meanwhile -- as Dave Cameron points out -- to make room for Bradley the Cubs dumped Felix Pie ... who's now thriving with the Orioles.)
It's true that Hendry convinced the Dodgers to give him two decent players -- Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros -- for Todd Hundley, who was coming off a couple of lousy seasons. But 1) Karros was coming off a couple of lousy seasons of his own, and 2) Grudzielanek had just posted a .301 on-base percentage, and 3) in addition to Hundley, Hendry relinquisted a decent prospect in Chad Hermensen (who never panned out, but still).
More to the point, general managers are generally smarter than they were in 2003. Yellon's got a good point about Vernon Wells; at least he doesn't get suspended twice per season. I just wonder if any general manager -- let alone a GM whose job seems to always be in danger, like J.P. Ricciardi -- will be willing to take Bradley, regardless of the circumstance. Almost no player with any demonstrated talent is untradeable, no matter what his salary; we've seen this proved many times over. But Bradley might actually be one of those rarities. Either way, the Cubs are going to take a big financial hit. And there was never any good reason for it.