Let’s take a look at our outfield – I wish we didn’t have to. The trio of Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukodome and Milton Bradley left a LOT to be desired…
Milton Bradley – Right Field
2009 Report Card Grade – F – seriously. It is hard for me to give someone an F, but because I don’t think Bradley really even tried, Bradley gets the lone F (see Alfonso Soriano from a few days back with his D+).
2009 stats – 124 games; 393 at-bats; .257 batting average; .378 on-base percentage; 12 HR’s, 40 RBI’s; 61 runs scored; 95 K’s; 66 walks.
2008 stats (with Texas Rangers) – 126 games; 414 at-bats; .321 batting average; .436 on-base percentage; 22 HR’s, 77 RBI’s; 61 runs scored; 112 K’s; 80 walks.
We should have known that the Bradley signing was going to be a mistake when he got injured the 1st week of the season. Next to the Soriano signing, this will go down as GM Jim Hendry’s 2nd worst move of his career. The 2008 MLB season was only the 3rd season of his 9-year MLB career where Bradley played over 100 games. He had a history of injury issues and he never showed that he could play a full year in the outfield. In 2008, Bradley was the Rangers DH, and even then, he only accumulated 414 at-bats. Throw in his poor fielding (when he was out there) and his hot temper, and it was a recipe for disaster.
Hendry had already hurt the Cubs payroll with the signings of outfielders Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome each of the previous 2 off-seasons, and now he was adding a 3rd 30+ year-old player to the mix with another 3-year deal. Going into the 2009 season, the Cubs were then stuck in the outfield with long-term deals with Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley for the next 3 seasons. I’m not sure how Hendry thought this was the right way to go, but somehow he convinced himself that he knew what he was doing. Further, in order to sign Bradley, he had to dump innings-eater Jason Marquis to the Colorado Rockies for Luis Vizcaino (whom the Cubs released less than a month into the season) and fan and clubhouse- favorite Mark DeRosa for 3 minor league pitching prospects from the Cleveland Indians. I think Hendry must have been on something when he made these moves last off-season.
In any event, the deal was done, and all that was left to happen was waiting for the shoe to drop. Bradley’s performance on and off the field made that easy. Bradley had 4 hits in the month of April – .118 batting average. By the end of May, Bradley was on fire with his batting average over .224. After finally reaching the .250 mark on July 29th, Bradley reached his high water mark of .269 on August 30th. Yippee. 12 HR’s & 40 RBI’s? Jake Fox had 11 HR’s and 44 RBI’s in just 216 at-bats in 82 games. Even Micah Hoffpauir had 10 HR’s and 35 RBI’s in just 234 at-bats in 105 games. And like we said about Soriano, Bradley’s fielding was atrocious. How many balls did he misplay? How many balls did he lose in the sun? How many balls hit him in the head? It was comical out there in right field.
To top it all off, Bradley had the worst attitude. He took it out on Cubs fans. He accused people of being racist. He never took any responsibility for his own actions. And he always had an excuse for why he was not playing well for the Cubs. It all reached a head when Bradley went off on the Cubs organization and the Cubs were forced to suspend him for the rest of the baseball season. Now the Cubs are in a no-win situation. They cannot bring Bradley back into that Cubs locker room in 2010. But now, every other MLB team knows that the Cubs have to get rid of him with 2 years and $20 million remaining on his contract. Any team that takes Bradley will likely make the Cubs eat at least half of the deal in order to take a “chance” on the troubled Bradley. It goes from bad, to worse, to horrible for Hendry and the Cubs.
So while we’ll still have to live with Soriano and Fukudome struggling in the outfield for the next several years, at least we don’t have to worry about Bradley creating problems both on and off the field. His 2009 F grade is clearly deserved.
Let’s hope Hendry can get a little creative over the next few seasons, or else Cubs fans will be calling for Hendry’s head louder than they ever did for Bradley’s in 2009…