The Cubs have filled a big void in the middle of their lineup – finally.
Milton Bradley completed a successful physical this week to make it official. He signed a 3-year, $30 million deal, which is believed to include incentives for number of games played during the contract. As a switch-hitter, Bradley will split up the Cubs predominantly right-handed hitting lineup and will fit in just fine right in the middle of the lineup as either the 4th, 5th or 6th hitter. Bradley will also wear the “lucky #21” – previously worn by another right fielder who left on poor terms with Cubs management, players and fans alike – the infamous Sammy Sosa.
After an injury-riddled 2007 MLB season in which Bradley only played in 61 games, Bradley out up career numbers. In 126 games and 414 plate appearances, Bradley hit .321 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI’s. More importantly, Bradley led the major leagues in on-base percentage with a whopping .436. He drew 80 walks with 112 strikeouts. One negative – he played only 20 games in the outfield, with the majority of his at-bats coming as the Rangers’ designated hitter.
How many games will Bradley play during the 2009 MLB season? It is unclear. With depth in the outfield with Kosuke Fukodome and Joey Gathright, Manager Lou Pinella may elect to rest Bradley in the late innings to keep him fresh during the long MLB season. That should allow Bradley to avoid the risk of injury that seems to follow him around.
The Bradley signing should wrap up most of the moves for the Cubs heading into spring training. There is the possibility that the Cubs look for another starter in the rotation, and that could also lead to more Jake Peavy trade rumors, but for now, the Cubs look ready to defend their NL Central Division title for the second straight year, and hope to fare better in the 2009 playoffs this fall.