It’s Time To Let Milton Bradley Go
Update: It’s possible that the M’s agree with the post below – Ryan Divish is reporting on Twitter that the Mariners will recall Mike Wilson from Tacoma before Tuesday’s game. The associated roster move has not yet been reported. It could be as simple as Michael Saunders going down, though given the OF defense over the weekend, I doubt the M’s want to make it worse, which that swap would do. That also wouldn’t open up a spot on the 40 man roster, so they’d need to also DFA someone else in order to add Wilson – seems unlikely. I’d guess that either Bradley or Langerhans is going away. I vote for Bradley, obviously.
When the Mariners swapped Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley, we were pretty happy, believing it was a risk worth taking. But, let’s be honest – it hasn’t worked out. As a Mariner, Bradley is hitting .205/.296/.345, and at age 33, he’s not exactly on the upswing. His power isn’t completely gone, but it’s diminished to the point that it doesn’t offset his lack of contact ability, and at the very best, you could consider him a league average hitter.
There is a place on most rosters for league average hitters, but they need to bring something else to the table – defense, baserunning, positional flexibility, cuddliness… something. For Bradley, though, all he has is his bat. He’s absolutely atrocious defensively, and was an embarrassment in left field over the weekend, letting balls fall in that should have been easy outs for most left fielders. In reality, he’s a DH that the M’s are playing in left field because they don’t have many other alternatives.
He doesn’t provide any flexibility on the roster, and in actuality, his injury-prone body and angry-prone personality actually hamper roster construction, as the team always has to be prepared for Bradley to come out of the game – either via pain or ejection – at any given moment. And, let’s be honest, Bradley is not on this team for reasons related to team chemistry or leadership. He might not be the worst teammate ever, but he’s definitely not in the running for the best, and I don’t think you can make a case that he’s an asset in the locker room.
The M’s brought Bradley here because they thought he might hit, and they’d put up with the rest of the package in order to get some offense. He hasn’t hit, though, and there’s no reason to think he’s going to start hitting any time soon. Dating back to the start of the 2009 season, Bradley has hit just .233/.341/.375 in a span over nearly 900 plate appearances. Yes, he was a great hitter in 2008, but that is so far in the rear view mirror at this point that it can barely be accounted for.
This M’s team isn’t great, and they don’t need to be sacrificing the future to win now, but Milton Bradley is certainly not a part of any future this team has, and he’s also not making them any better. The combination of average offense and terrible defense is simply not providing any value, and the Mariners can and should do better.
No, they don’t have a lot of viable in-house alternatives, even after Franklin Gutierrez comes off the disabled list. Michael Saunders is still a wreck at the plate and probably needs to work things out in Tacoma, and I don’t think even Ryan Langerhans‘ biggest fans think he should takeover as the starting left fielder. None of the kids in Tacoma are ready for the big leagues. The M’s simply have a hole at left field, which is likely why Bradley is still on this team. However, the M’s should not let that stand in their way – there are outfielders in other organizations who could use a chance to prove their skills, and at the very least could offer comparable offensive performances while also being able to run down a simple fly ball.
Ideally, I’d like to see them target a guy like Chris Heisey, who is currently serving as the Reds fourth outfielder but could play everyday for the M’s, but he might be a little tough to pry away from Cincinnati. So, maybe they end up with a guy like Nate Schierholtz, Fred Lewis, Laynce Nix, or Chris Dickerson – all of whom could likely be acquired at little cost in talent and would present an immediate upgrade over Bradley in left field.
Milton Bradley simply doesn’t offer this Mariners team anything of value. While I understand the inertia against making changes when a team is doing fairly well, the organization should be actively shopping for a new left fielder. There’s just no real point to having Bradley around anymore.