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Monday, September 21, 2009
What's to be done with Milton Bradley?

Al Yellon runs through all the gory details of Milton Bradley's suspension, setting up this big finish: Committing $30 million to Milton Bradley was obviously risky because he's started more than 100 games in the outfield just once in his career. Committing $30 million to Milton Bradley was obviously risky because he's displayed serious behavioral issues throughout his career.

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.