Milton Bradley Presents Risk: The Chicago Cubs Edition
Risk is a game of world domination, or in this case baseball domination. Your objective is to conquer the world (series). To win, you must attack and defend, 81 times a piece.
The game includes six continents (divisions) made up of 30 teams.
OK, you get it, Milton Bradley and "Risk" the board game they make. It just works, so deal with it.
The fact is, it seems this is exactly what the Cubs are getting themselves into. A brand new edition of the game is rumored to be unleashed in the spring of 2009; Risk: The Chicago Cubs Edition.
With the trade of Mark Derosa finalized and Jason Marquis standing at the door, it is rumored that the Cubs will be signing right fielder Milton Bradley.
Of late, I have shown support for the Cubs signing Bradley. Not for one second though, have I forgot his injury plagued career.
Not now, will I try to justify 10 million a year, for three years. But, I also wouldn't try to justify giving CC Sabathia roughly $700,000 per start if the Cubs would have signed him. Baseball contracts, in all of baseball, are simply out of hand.
When I look at who else is available, via free agency, Milton Bradley is my pick for a few different reasons.
Some of you will remember, I wrote about wanting Bobby Abreu, but the past is the past. After learning more about Bradley, I feel he is the better candidate, and more suitable right fielder.
One difference is age. Abreu will be 35 prior to next season and Bradley will turn 31 shortly into the season. Abreu would commend at least a two year deal, if not three.
It is no baseball secret, outside of the steroid era, that after you hit 35, you are normaly on a monumental downfall in sports. This alone makes Abreu a liability.
On the other hand Bradley, whom has been injured as much as a 96 year old man with bad hips, is in the middle of his prime. I do say prime loosely, because it could very possibly be for less than 100 games.
So, I ask myself another question. What is the value of Bradley over Abreu in a short series? This is the reason we need a left-handed hitter, right?
So say Bradley only plays in 100 games in right-field during the regular season. He hits .315, with 15 home runs, and 50-60 RBI with a .400+ OBP. The Cubs win the Central Divison and he plays in the post season.
What is his value to the Cubs now? This is exactly where we need him.
If you get into the salary case, didn't Rich Harden get seven million dollars? Harden has made exactly 41 starts over the past three years, with 25 of them in 2008. At 13 starts per year, his seven mill, will net over $500k per start.
Obviously I hope Harden makes 30 starts, which will bring his price per start to $225,000 per start, but it is as unlikely as Bradley starting 130 games.
Yet, we are just glad to have Rich in our rotation for a full season.
Now, I know some may not agree with me, but I think pitchers contracts are even more ridiculous than hitters. I can't see how a pitcher that starts 30 games is more important than a key hitter that starts 130.
Now, I think about the upside of both Milton Bradley and Kosuke Fukudome. Despite the colossal fall off in 2008, Fukodome has a high ceiling. Whatever the problem was in the second half, I believe he is probably working to fix it, as I type.
I know this is no guarantee. I know that Kosuke could very possibly be a .250 hitter. After watching him early in the season, prior to the All-Star ballots opening, he could also be a .300 hitter with an OBP of .400 plus.
So, say Fukudome returns to the United States, and hits even .280 with a .380 OBP. Milton Bradley plays 100 games in the outfield, the rest are then played by Kosuke, with Reed Johnson playing in center field.
While I understand that this is wishful thinking, the return of early 2008 Fukudome is still a possibility.
Just as it is possible, likely or not, that Milton Bradley starts 130 games in right field. If he does this, the Cubs will come very close to winning 110 games, if all other players stay healthy too.
The reason I like this scenario better, is because Bradley is still young at 31 and could still progress average wise. His OBP is likely to be around .410 and he is a serious threat to hit .325.
Abreu on the other hand, could begin a serious downfall, as soon as 2009. Bradley is a better hitter, has more power, and has a higher OBP over the past two years.
Now, the fact that Milton Bradley is about to join his fifth team in five years, could be scarey. There have been a number of reports that have said that outside of his relationship with Jeff Kent, Bradley is well liked by his teammates. Now, Jeff Kent would be a clubhouse cancer, IMO.
Bradley does have a temper. Yet, in 2008, he made huge strides. He was much more tame and some say he matured a lot. It is believed, that being teamed up with Josh Hamilton, whom Milton played big brother to, brought on an unseen maturing process.
Injuries have been the reason, not clubhouse presence, that Bradley has changed uniform so often. Not because he is not liked by his teammates. The media doesn't like him and that is no secret.
In fact, I believe the Cubs need a vocal leader. Someone that shows emotion on a daily basis. Look at the 2008 Cubs and show me who shows a bit of tenacity in their line-up, because I don't see it.
Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez both just go out and do their job. They don't look like they are having any fun. In my opinion, they look way too uptight.
Whenever there is a close call, I pray that Lou will come out and argue. This team reacts to sudden outbursts. If you disagree, take 2007 for example.
The team was underachieving when then catcher Michael Barret and Carlos Zambrano got into a fist fight. Barret was then traded, for someone I don't recall, he didn't stick around long. They soon shipped him to the Athletics for Jason Kendall.
Somewhere in this time frame, "Sweet" Lou was ejected from a game. Shortly after, Aramis Ramirez hit a walk-off home run, and the Cubs have had the most wins in the National League since.
So yes, it is unlikely that Bradley will be in right field for 130 plus games. He may not even make it out for 80. The fact is that the Cubs need a left-handed bat for the playoffs.
If he does average 130 games over his three years in Chicago, the 10 million he gets, will likely be looked back upon as a discount. If he helps bring a World Series to Chicago, I am sure nobody will care what his contract was.
I don't even like saying those words (playoffs, World Series), but after two straight division titles, and the rest of the central being weak as of right now, you have to think about it. This team can win 90+ games as is, but if they face another Arizona or Los Angeles type rotation in the first round, they could be swept again.
Milton Bradley does present "Risk" for the Chicago Cubs, but it could end up paying off big in the end.
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