Could Milton Bradley Problem Be a New York Mets Solution?

David GellerAnalyst IJune 30, 2009

CHICAGO - JUNE 18:  Milton Bradley #21 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Chicago White Sox during the game on June 18, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As it stands right now, the Mets desperately need improvements in hitting, pitching, defense, base running, and overall fundamentals.

Stated more bluntly, they currently stink. One move won’t fix it, but they sure need to start somewhere.

It’s no secret that Omar Minaya’s hands are tied right now. The farm system is as thin as the Nationals' postseason hopes, and Minaya has issued a blockade on his prospects that other teams covet.

Additionally, the overall situation of desperation and fear within the Mets brass is painfully obvious. Two straight colossal failures in September, containing arguably the best ace and closer in the game, and the constant New York pressure, make winning a necessity regardless of the situation.

Other teams are aware of this. They will negotiate according to this knowledge, and if Minaya is unwilling to mortgage his future to stop the bleeding in the present, acquiring upper-tier talent is not in the fold for the Mets.

Minaya has acknowledged this and insists that if acquiring a bat becomes a necessity, he will be creative while exploring his options.

Slugfests are on the horizon against the likes of the Phillies, Dodgers, and Reds before the All-Star break mercifully arrives. Simply put, the Mets will not survive with a lineup that would be deemed appropriate for a Triple-A ball club, not one that currently aspires to win the World Series.

What the Mets need is an experienced bat that is capable of hitting lefties and righties, with the capability to blast one over the fence—someone who is hungry for redemption.

Hello, Milton Bradley.

His measly five home runs and .240 average make one think that he is anything but an immediate upgrade for the depleted Mets lineup. His bad attitude is something very few teams would desire in their clubhouses.

We’ve played this game with Bradley before, back when Oakland cut him loose in 2007. Teams were reluctant to roll the dice with the enigmatic outfielder, so a team starving for offensive production swooped in and took a chance.

That team was the Padres, and they were the beneficiaries of a strong second half in which Bradley hit 11 homers in 42 games.

Needless to say, the Mets would be thrilled with that sort of production right now.

Gary Sheffield has been serving as a power source for the Mets, but he’s a 40-year-old DH playing outfield in one of the league’s more vast ballparks. His inability to play day in and day out has hurt the Mets, who are in dire need of a bat not named David Wright or Ryan Church that can play consistently for the Mets.

Additionally, his biggest detriment in Chicago could serve as a positive for the Mets. The controversy that would swirl amidst a potential Bradley trade would deter the negative cloud that has been hovering over the Mets for roughly a month.

Instead of answering questions of why they can’t muster a simple winning streak, they would be asked how they would deal with Milton Bradley as a teammate. It’s a start, right?

As bad as it appears to be in Flushing, it is just as bad for the North Siders. They have won the same number of playoff games as the Mets the past two seasons, despite attaining two more division titles. They are below .500 with fewer injuries and higher expectations.

In a time when high expectations and poor performance clash, a scapegoat emerges. That scapegoat has been Milton Bradley. He signed a lucrative deal worth $30 million over three years with the Cubs this past offseason, serving as a solidifying force in an already potent lineup.

But the ride has not been smooth for Bradley. Struggles at the plate, a dicey relationship with the media, and the highly publicized run-ins with the old school manager have placed Bradley and the Cubs in awkward positions.

It’s evident that what the team needs is a spark. Could one emerge from cutting loose a highly prized free agent signing in the first year of his contract?

If the Cubs aren’t considering it, the Mets should make them. Omar Minaya has made it clear he has no plans to rent a player until he becomes a free agent following the season. Bradley is locked up for two years beyond 2009 once he totals 75 games this season.

It is reported that the Mets are able to add $5.5 million of payroll during the trade deadline. If worked out properly, the Mets would pay for some, but not all, of Bradley’s contract. In return for the Mets paying some of Bradley’s salary, the Cubs may be less inclined to ask for highly regarded prospects in return.

The chances are slim of this trade being completed, but Minaya has insisted he would explore all avenues to acquire a bat the Mets so desperately need. It’s worth a shot.


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