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Talking Baseball

Your weekday baseball fix. Some days.



Posted by Dave on Friday, April 02, 2004

Unequivocally - Milton Bradley, Not a Gamer

For those that haven't caught the news, Milton Bradley is going to be evicted by the Indians. A brief synopsis from many news sources: Milton was in a Spring Training game and failed to run out a pop-up that dropped for a single (which should have been a double). As a consequence, the manager for the Indians, Eric Wedge, removed Bradley from the game and told him that he needed to be on second base after the miscue. Milton responded with an undisclosed remark - but apparently a pretty rude remark. As a result of Milton's vicious retort, GM Mark Shapiro exclaimed that there's no place for Milton on the team. Rumor has it that he will be deported by Sunday.

A lot of interesting questions arise as a result of this fiasco: Who, of the potential suitors, has the most to gain from Bradley's services? Will he be traded at a discounted rate - that is, will the Indians get a fair trade? More importantly, should the Indians trade him at all?! "Surely," you think, "these actions cannot be tolerated." I'm not so sure I believe that, but that comes later. Let's run down a list of Bradley's admirers:

Dodgers: Granted, their park factor was woefully slanted towards pitchers (93, tied with Oakland's Coliseum), but their outfield production makes my esophagus tingle with bile. Their OF last year didn't even combine for an average OPS of .700 - now that's bad. They could REALLY use a CF who could both play some defense and put up some decent offensive numbers (Milton's OPS was a robust .922 last year, though he had some injuries - a recurrent problem).

A's: They also have problems with light-hitting outfielders. Though Jermaine Dye is back, the rest of their OF is comprised of Mark Kotsay (a fellow "5-tooler") and Bobby Kielty (still has some prospect luster, perhaps). Oakland would clearly benefit offensively from adding Bradley, and he's still arbitration-eligible for another two years. Therefore, they probably wouldn't be paying an absurd amount of money to keep him in the future (he only costs 1.73 million this season, following the .922 OPS campaign).

Rangers: They have the OF prospects (Nivar, Nix (he sure gets a lot of PR at Talking Baseball), and Mench) to replace Bradley, but do the Indians need any in return? Not at all - they have a talented and youthful group including Coco Crisp, Matt Lawton, Jody Gerut, Alex Escobar, and the highly-touted prospect, Grady Sizemore (I swear, he should be a slugger). The Rangers would likely love to have Bradley patrolling their OF in their offensively beneficial park, but they may not have the arms to trade for Bradley (if pitching is the Indians' demand).

Will the Indians get a fair trade? Yes and no. Normally in these kinds of situations, teams are scared off by the possibility of having their own clubhouse cancer. In Bradley's case, however, that doesn't seem to be the case. Shapiro revealed that there are at least four legitimate contenders for Bradley's services (the Pirates are probably also included). Still, the suitors are aware of his penchant for disturbing the peace and won't be willing to trade what they would normally for a dynamic CF posting .321/.421/.501 heading into his prime. But, there are still four people vying for his services. Therefore, the Indians should get what is "market value" for a troubled - but awfully talented - centerfielder.

Milton Bradley should be traded, but not because of his dugout indiscretions alone. I've always believed that baseball is a game of individuals and the game is played as such. Individual batters face individual pitchers. The only remote amount of teamwork there is on the field is when the defense combines forces to make outs. Even this act really isn't teamwork - there is a job to be done by the individual, and he must carry it out in order to prevent runs. Bradley is an extremely productive player and his quibbles with Wedge shouldn't blind the Indians from seeing that. I agree with Shapiro, the Indians should trade Bradley, but it is for reasons peripheral to his outburst.

Firstly, as I mentioned previously, the Indians have an abundance of outfield talent. As we all know, only three players can defend the vast sector of grass, so it makes little sense to keep more than three. Bradley can very easily be exchanged for different parts, leaving the Indians with better prospects for the future.

Secondly, Shapiro is right, for a young team still a few years from contention, Milton Bradley is the last kind of player they need. A young group of guys is very impressionable and these kinds of actions wouldn't bode well for the Indians down the line. They need to eliminate the source of the devisive behavior before it spreads to the rest of the team.

Thirdly, and most importantly, this team is still a few years away from contending. Brandon Phillips, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, and the aforementioned OF, are still babies and have at least a few years until they reach their prime - probably longer. Bradley is playing well now, however. Bradley's presence doesn't give the team much benefit (certainly as far as playoff contention is concerned) if the rest of the team is horrible. Therefore, they should trade him and get the extra pitching necessary for a playoff run in 2007 or 2008.

In the end, Shapiro is justified in his actions. Bradley should get traded, the Indians are not the right fit for him right now - but that should've been apparent to the Indians' brass prior to this incident.


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