This is a no-brainer. If Milton Bradley is available on the cheap, you do everything in your power to acquire him.
Because there are still some unanswered questions about his character I’d be hesitant to include the likes of Clint Nageotte or Travis Blackley, but the Indians can have pretty much anybody else they want. Rett Johnson, Aaron Looper and Ryan Franklin? Sold. Cha Baek and Bobby Livingston? You got it. Bobby Madtrisch and Troy Cate? Deal.
C’mon, M’s, make it happen.
Well, push has come to shove, and the Mariners now have a decision to make. Supremely talented center fielder Milton Bradley has reportedly burned his bridges in Cleveland, after a confrontation with the manager about failing to hustle on a ground ball. This is nothing new for Bradley, who is easily one of the most volatile personalities in the game. Among his indiscretions over his professional career are an incident where he spit on an umpire in the minor leagues, been involved in fights with teammates, accused the Expos of being a racist organization, and recently drove away from a police officer after being pulled over for speeding, which led to a three day jail sentence, which has yet to be served.
Bradley is an angry young man who has had to deal with a lot growing up. He is, essentially, everything the Mariners do not want their players to be as human beings, despite his exemplary record of community service. He is considered a problem in the clubhouse and does not fit the family-friendly image the Mariners marketing team has designed.
However, Milton Bradley is exactly what the Mariners need in a ballplayer. Just looking at his accomplishments on the field, we have a 25-year-old center fielder who hit .321/.421/.501 last year, good for a .328 EqA, making him one of the best players in the American League. He is a quality defensive player with a middle of the order bat who controls the strike zone and has exemplary secondary skills. As an athlete, he fits everything the M’s want in a player. His tools are above average across the board, and his breakout last year looks like natural improvement rather than an early peak. Even more appealing to the Mariners would be his pricetag, at just $1.7 million for this year, and he’s not eligible for free agency until after 2006.
A trade for Bradley would answer a lot of questions on the field, as he would solidify the outfield defense as well as provide the explosive bat the Mariners need in the middle of the order. However, it would create just as many questions in the clubhouse, where his acquisition would fly in the face of everything the M’s have done the past two years. If they truly believe character is more important than talent, than Bradley won’t be an option. You have to wonder, however, if Bob Melvin and Bill Bavasi would consider the fact that Bradley could possibly be nurtured in the veteran-laden clubhouse that they’ve built.
If ever there was a chance to obtain an all-star player at a discounted rate, this is it. He fits the Mariners needs to a tee. We now get to find out just how much emphasis the M’s place on chemistry and the desire to have everyone on the team be a marketable personality.
Update: I have learned that the Mariners did indeed inquire about the availability of Bradley last summer, and were interested in acquiring him despite his off-field issues. The deal broke down over the inclusion of Clint Nageotte, but the M’s were not hindered by his issues then, and it is possible that they will not be hindered by them now.
I’ve been attempting to get around to writing a season preview post, with my thoughts on the team by position, the strengths, the weaknesses, and the outlook for 2004. I now feel like it would be completely redundant, as Dan Werr nails it in his team preview at Baseball Primer. There really isn’t a whole heck of a lot in the article I disagree with. So, here’s my shortened season preview:
Well done, Dan, we agree. But go M’s anyways.
As a point of clarification, I recieved an email from David Andriesen last night, with two requests.
1. Please spell his name right.
2. Realize that his editors added the Top Prospects section to the end of the Jose Lopez article, and he had nothing to do with the content.
I’m not sure why I kept adding a second s to his last name, but I’ll be more careful from now on. And, we won’t hold that abomination of a prospect list against Andriesen. Someone really should talk to those editors, though.