Wow – with the meaningless weekend series between the Cubs & Cardinals, at least Milton Bradley and Jim Hendry gave us some lively action to sink our teeth into. The Cubs officially suspended Milton Bradley for the rest of the 2009 MLB schedule on Sunday for his adverse actions and statements made regarding the Cubs organization. Yippee – it’s about time…
Here’s what GM Jim Hendry said to the media on Sunday: “There have been a lot of issues that we’ve lived with during the year but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you. I’m not going to let our great fans become an excuse, I’m not going to tolerate not answering questions from the media respectfully. Whether you feel like talking or not, it’s part of our jobs. I’m not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel. The only real negativity here is his won production.”
Among many issues raised by Bradley all season long – racism, means fans, injury issues – it all came to a head when Manager Lou Pinella pulled Bradley during Wednesday night’s game against the Brewers during a double-switch. I guess Bradley did not like being pulled by Pinella, so in Thursday’s series finale against the Brewers, Bradley pulled himself from the games with an apparent “knee injury” to “get back at” Pinella. Can you say “baby”?! Then Bradley refused to answer questions about the knee injury, he pulled himself from Friday night’s game in St. Louis right before the 1st pitch to put Pinella and the Cubs in another bad position, and finally proceeded to bad-mouth the Cubs organization and fans. Here’s what he said: “It’s just not a positive environment. I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment. There’s too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly. Everyone is just bashing you. You go out there and play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it. It’s just negativity. And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative. It’s what it is.”
The Bradley signing was a bad move in November, it was a bad move during spring training, it was a bad move when he injured himself during the first few weeks of the season, and it was a bad move all season long. And it’s taken the man in charge of player personnel 10 months to realize that. Let’s look at the numbers:
In 393 at-bats in 124 games, Bradley hit .257 with a .378 on-base percentage. Bradley hit 12 HR’s and 17 doubles and drove in 40 runs while scoring 61 runs. He had 66 walks and 95 strikeouts. Now without comparing him to every single player on the Cubs, let’s simply compare him to Jake Fox – a young player who helped the Cubs in numerous positions and is the consummate team player. In just 189 at-bats in 74 games, Fox hit .286 with a .335 on-base percentage. Fox hit 11 HR’s and 14 doubles and drove in 42 runs while scoring 26 runs. Fox also makes a LOT less than the $10 million Bradley is set to make under his 3-year deal with the Cubs. In half the number of at-bats, Fox had more RBI’s and 1 less HR than Bradley. How can this be?
Throw in the horrendous fielding in right field, the numerous dropped/misplayed balls, and the fact that Bradley is not a “good” clubhouse guy, this was a disaster waiting to happen. Most people saw this, and the man in charge of player personnel decisions should have seen this day coming too. It’s time for Hendry to get the boot too.
Three years ago, I thought Hendry did a great job re-inventing the Cubs model after reliance on injury-prone pitchers (Kerry Wood, Mark Prior) came back to haunt the Cubs year-after-year. Hendry signed middle-of-the-road pitchers Jason Marquis and Ted Lilly because he knew they were innings-eaters who would make 25-30 starts a season. He added Mark DeRosa – a solid ballplayer who was a great clubhouse guy who would produce day-in-and-day-out.
But after these “conservative” moves, Hendry started making some questionable moves that undermined his new game plan. The Alfonso Soriano signing was exciting, but why the 8 years for a player that would be over 30 years at the start of his 1st season with the Cubs? Soriano’s 2009 numbers – 477 at-bats, .241 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, 20 HR’s, 55 RBI’s, 64 runs & 118 K’s. Why 4 years (and close to $50 million) on an unproven major league player from Japan – Kosuke Fukodome – who would be handed the everyday right field job? Fukodome’s 2009 numbers – - 462 at-bats, .253 batting average, .371 on-base percentage, 11 HR’s, 52 RBI’s, 71 runs & 103 K’s (these numbers are nearly identical to his 2008 numbers whcih were considered a huge disappointment). And most recently, why 3 years and $30 on Milton Bradley?
Coupled with those moves, Hendry had to unload the likes of Mark DeRosa and Marquis who once again had productive years in 2009 without causing any issues in their respective clubhouses. DeRosa has a combined 21 HR’s, 72 RBI’s and 74 runs scored while playing for the Indians and Cardinals in 479 at-bats. Marquis is 15-11 in 30 starts pitching half his time for the Rockies in Coors Field in Denver. Marquis has a 3.84 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP and will likely be pitching in the post-season for the 6th straight year.
Hendry has mortgaged the outfield with the signings of Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley for the next few years. The Cubs will have little room for the free agent market during the off-season following the horrible 2009 MLB campaign. And we haven’t even mentioned the signing of Carlos Zambrano to an extension during the 2008 MLB season – and now we’re hearing rumblings that the Cubs will try to move Zambrano in the off-season to dump salary. Does this guy even have a clue or a plan? How do you sign a player to a 4-year extension because he is so important to your team, and then – less than 1 year later – decide that you can’t have this guy on your ballclub anymore? It just doesn’t make sense to me and it is a downward trend that is becoming more and more evident with Hendry if you truly analayze the moves he has made the last 2-3 years. I hope the Ricketts family takes a very close look at Hendry and makes an informed decision on whether or not he is the man to lead this the organization to a World Series. There was a time where I thought he had what it took to do the job, but right now, I firmly believe that Hendry must go too…