Thursday, January 1, 2009

The New Mr. Cub

Word around Blogfrica is that the Cubs are pursuing free agent outfielder and full-time circus Milton Bradley to toil in the ivy next year, provided that the Washington Nationals don't make the mistake first. I actually read a post earlier today that lauded them for the interest, seeing how Bradley is a five-tool player who's coming off a big year in Texas, and would be an attractive cog in the machine.

Um, Cub Fan? You do realize that you'd be getting Milton Bradley here, right? And that you'd be his seventh franchise, and fifth since 2005?

First off, let's actually deal with the on-field product. If Milty does have five tools, he's been doing his best to keep them fresh by not using them very often. His career high in steals is 17, which happened in 2003; he's stolen 20 bags and been caught 7 times in the last three years. Secondly, isn't one of those tools supposed to be defense? Milty DH'd last year for the Rangers, probably to help keep him healthy, but also to keep him farther away from those pesky other team fans that generally reveal him to be, well, Not Quite Right In The Head.

But independent of The Toolage is this: staying healthy is a skill. The number of years that Milty has managed 500 at-bats in his nine year career is... drumroll, please... one, for LA in 2004. That helps explain his career high of 22 home runs, also last year in the Arlington jet stream.

OK, if you look at just the last two years and just at the percentage numbers, Milty's been a positive player, with a four-digit OPS (that's on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). But he's also never been accused of being, well, stable... and for him to go to a place like Wrigley in the non-contract years of his career, when his physical gifts are likely to be in strong decline, especially given how brittle he's been over the years...

Well, Cub Fan, I suppose it beats watching Kosuke Fukudome, or whoever else he's going to take at-bats from. But if it were my team, I wouldn't exactly be doing handstands over it. Or, if it comes to be, making eye contact with Milton.

But on the plus side, he gets to come back to National League umpires. Last time, that didn't go so well...

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