Former Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley (Cubbie Nation/file)
I'd been hoping over the last day to see some movement, some twist, some nuance—any indication of a plan, really—that would make the trade of Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva palatable. In the end, I keep coming back to the same conclusion: pathetic.
Yes, pathetic. I went back through the notes, looked at some old Silva footage, and combed over the Mariners blogs to see if the Silva that I remembered had evolved into someone else. Nope. He's still the same old poorly conditioned, soft-tossing fifth starter that I saw back in 2006-2007. Albeit, one of the luckiest men in memory as well though, given that he hit free agency at its peak, turning a few better-than-average starts in 2007 into $48 million dollars of goodness.
In Silva, the Cubs shake themselves free of the Bradley fog, allowing the clubhouse to hopefully bring itself back to a collective equilibrium. And the salary relief—somewhere between $6 and $9 million, depending on who you speak with—could very well be transformed into someone who can give the Cubs something productive over the next season or two.
But here's the problem that I keep coming back to, and it is that Silva is a negative value player. He was average with the Twins at his peak, awful with the Mariners in a spacious pitchers park, and comes to the Cubs off a shoulder injury. In other words, he couldn't be expected to get more than a minor-league deal right now if he was out there looking for work, and with good reason; there's simply no indication that he can effective for a club in 2010.
Yet, at the very least, the politics of the matter force him to remain on the 25-man roster for at least the bulk of the season, forcing the Cubs to likely either carry an extra pitcher, reduce their effectiveness by not allowing them to bring along a more useful minor-league arm who might otherwise make the team—we're talking to you, Blake Parker, Jon Gaub, and Justin Berg—or even worse, precluding the Cubs from acquiring a more useful piece as he's got a lock on a roster spot for at least the first month or two of the season.
But the part that makes this so sad is the simple question that no one wants to answer: If the Cubs had simply agreed to eat this $15 million of so difference rather than playing this accounting game with the Mariners—effectively turning Bradley into a 2/8 contract—what could they have gotten back in return? I'm going to hazard a guess someone a lot more useful than Carlos.
When you couple this with the fact that rather than choosing to make this move months ago and move one, allowing them to acquire either a Mike Cameron or getting back in on the Curtis Granderson talks, they puffed and pontificated instead, making them look amateurish in the process.
Face it, when you wait out the market and come back with good return, you're a smart guy. When you do that and come back with Carlos Silva, arguably the worst of the Bradley trade scenarios, you don't come across as very competent.
Bradley will be fine in Seattle, and I wish him well there. I'm confident that he'll come back under a much more laid back environment to his usual offensive norms, especially given the chance to DH again. As for the Cubs, well they may be able to put a nice face on this if they can turn that Mariners cash into a good outfielder. But given Hendry's desire for Marlon Byrd, he might be better served spending that money on a T-shirt that simply reads: "I spent 30 million dollars, and all I got was this lousy Silva!"