I know I’ve already written enough about Milton Bradley, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.
I read this article today about Marlon Byrd arriving at Spring Training with the Cubs this week. Apparently, he and Milton Bradley are old friends who went to school together.
Byrd’s quotes are pretty much what you’d expect, given his and Milton’s history together: i.e., Milton is not a bad person, people don’t know the real Milton Bradley, and Bradley becomes a scape goat when things go wrong.
Cubs GM Jim Hendry is quoted as saying that the Cubs’ failure in 2009 wasn’t entirely Milton Bradley’s fault and that Hendry was “going for the gold” but “in hindsight” it was a mistake to bring Milton Bradley to Chicago.
Well, I was stating loudly last some off-season that it was a huge mistake for the Cubs to sign Bradley before he’d even arrived at the Cubs’ 2009 Spring Training camp.
Bradley is not the worst human being in major league baseball. Many people have been quoted as saying there is another Milton Bradley away from baseball who has numerous positive qualities.
However, Milton has several severe character flaws (pop-off-itis, nothing is ever his fault no matter how much he brings controversy or hostility down on himself), that make him one of the worst players in major league baseball to bring to a team that has serious and realistic aspirations of making the post-season.
He is the definition of a lightening-rod, inevitably bringing down the opprobium of management, the fans or his teammates on his head. Too often Milton and his problems become the focal point of media attention, rather than the ball club and what they’re doing on the field. He’s a distraction, and with his inability to stay healthy and actually live up to his enormous talent on a consistent basis, he’s just not worth the headaches.
You put up with the Barry Bonds’ and Mark McGwire’s of the baseball world as long as they hit like Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire. When they can’t any more, they tend to find themselves involuntarily retired.
The point of professional baseball is to win, pure and simple. A player like Milton Bradley is good enough to help a bad team, like say the Pirates or the Royals, win more games than they would otherwise win. However, on a team like the 2009 Cubs, he doesn’t produce consistently enough to justify the trouble he causes.
The Mariners are hoping against hope that Ken Griffey, Jr. can work his clubhouse magic and keep Bradley in line enough to help the M’s win with their revamped 2010 squad. Obviously, I’m not particularly sanguine about the likelihood of that possibility.
One thing is for certain: the moment that the Milton Bradley we know and loathe rears the ugly side of his personality, the Mariners need to be ready to give him his walking papers. They’ve got too a good a team this year to get side-tracked by the Miltie Show.