Tag Archive | "Milton Bradley"

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Cubs Sign Center Fielder Marlon Byrd

Posted on 31 December 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs signed Marlon Byrd to a 3-year deal worth $15 million.  Byrd will play center field at Wrigley Field for the Cubs in 2010 and will likely bat lead-off.  Byrd will make $3 million in 2010, $5.5 million in 2011 and $6.5 million in 2012.  Byrd had a phenomenal year for the Texas Rangers in 2009 – his 20 HR’s, 89 RBI’s and .479 slugging percentage were all career highs.  Byrd is a career .279 hitter with a career .340 on-base percentage.  The Cubs hired the Rangers’ hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo this off-season, so he will continue to work with Byrd as a Cub for the next 3 years.

Byrd is excited about the prospects of playing everyday in Chicago: “When I knew I had the opportunity to become a Cub, I was really hoping this would be my landing ground.”

GM Jim Hendry had this to say about Byrd: “We knew he was a good guy.  He plays very hard and fans are going to like that.  He comes to play every day, doesn’t want days off and gives you 110%.  When Rudy told us about the other things he brought to the table, it enhances his reputation even further.”  Sense any little digs at Hendry’s big free agent signing last year – Milton Bradley?

I love this deal and I hate it at the same time.

It always seems like the Cubs sign these 32-34 year olds coming off their career years.  Then when they get to Chicago, they’ve lost a step or 2 and play mediocre ball for the last 3 years of their baseball careers.

Then again, Byrd played 146 games last year and is durable.  Having Byrd as your lead-off hitter would enable Ryan Theriot to hit 2nd in the lineup.  Or you could flip-flop the 2.  Then you follow that up with Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Geovany Soto and Jeff Baker/Mike Fontenot, and you have a decent lineup.  Assuming a healthy Ramirez and a Soriano and Soto who were not as bad as they were in 2009, and things can only get better.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see.  Happy New Years!

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Reaction to Milton Bradley Trade – Gotta Love It…

Posted on 19 December 2009 by Lou

Cubs Brewers Baseball

Gotta love the reaction to the Milton Bradley trade to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva as we reported yesterday.

Manager Lou Pinella: “It was a gamble that didn’t work out lik we had hoped.  The way the season ended for Milton left little doubt that he would be back the following year…”

Catcher Koyie Hill: “I hope he has a great year except for the three game we play him.”  The Cubs take on the Mariners in Seattle in interleague play in June.

Ah the Milton Bradley Saga Continues…  Although it’s great that he is someone else’s problem now!

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Finally Something Good to Cheer About Cubs Fans – Milton Bradley Is Gone…

Posted on 18 December 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs have traded underperforming, disgruntled outfielder Milton Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for starting pitcher Carlos Silva.  It’s basically exchanging one bad contract for another (the Mariners will actually give the Cubs $6 million because Silva is owed $25 million over the next 2 years while Bradley is owed $21 million over the next 2 years), but at least they get Bradley out of the locker room.  Bradley didn’t perform on the field and he let it get the best of him by coming up with excuses for why the Chicago Cubs are a losing organization.  Bradley refused to let others in and refused to be a team player, and he was ultimately suspended for the final 15 games of the season because of his insubordination.  Cubs fans can finally rejoice.

Bradley hit just .257 in 124 games for the Cubs in 2009.  Bradley’s .378 on-base percentage was exceptional, but the Cubs did not sign Bradley to a lucrative 3-year deal in the off-season to watch him walk a lot.  They signed him to add a left-handed bat to a right-heavy lineup, and they expected him to add a little pop and drive in some runs.  He did neither, hitting just 12 HR’s and knocking in 40 RBI’s in 393 at-bats.  How pathetic is that?  To put it in perspective, Jake Fox in limited play (82 games and 230 at-bats) hit 11 HR’s and drove in 45 runs.  What a joke.  Throw in the fact that Bradley was a “cancer” in the locker room and it turned into one of GM Jim Hendry’s worst signings.

Now the Cubs are forced to take on another bad deal – Silva’s 4-year, $48 million deal signed right before the 2008 MLB season – just to make sure they don’t have to deal with Bradley’s theatrics for 2 more years.  The Cubs will be on the hook for the $11.5 million owed to Silva in each of 2010 and 2011.  There is a $2 million buyout on a 2012 option for the Cubs which they will certainly not exercise.  Silva is known to be a very smart pitcher who has good control of the strike zone.  He won’t walk a lot of batters, but he won’t strike out a lot of batters either.  He puts the ball in play and relies on his defense to make the routine plays.  Given the fact that Ted Lilly will not be ready to start the season in April because of his off-season surgery and a lack of dependable 5th starter penciled in, Silva could serve that role.  Silva made only 6 starts in 2009 because of injuries.  He made 28 starts in 2008, but had a hefty 6.46 ERA with a 1.60 WHIP.  Silva’s 2 best years were with the Twins in 2004 (14-8, 203 innings pitched, 4.21 ERA and 1.43 WHIP) and in 2007 (13-14, 202 innings pitched, 4.19 ERA and 1.31 WHIP), so he does have the potential to turn it around.

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it all works out.  We knew moving Bradley would be a lose-lose situation, but at least he is gone and now maybe Hendry will be able to focus on acquiring or signing that center fielder and/or relief pitcher that the Cubs so desperately need.  Plus, keep in mind that given the following 2 statements by Hendry and starter Ryan Dempster, there was really no choice in the matter – Bradley had to go regardless of the cost…

Hendry: “The bottom line is he got off to such a bad start, and the expectations were so high for all of us, and when the expectations weren’t met and the criticism started in his direction, I don’t think he handled it well.  Once you go down that path, we’re playing on the big stage, and if you want the big stage you have to be able to perform on the big stage.”

Dempster: “It’s unfortunate.  At the end of the day, he was provided a great opportunity to come over here and be a part of a really great organization with a lot of really good guys, and it just didn’t seem to make him happy or anything.”

Boy oh boy…

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Cubs Still Trying to Deal Milton Bradley & Add Center Fielder

Posted on 15 December 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

While other teams are wheeling and dealing this winter, GM Jim Hendry and the Chicago Cubs are stuck in the mud.  Hendry is still trying to make a Milton Bradley for Pat Burrell deal happen with the Tampa Bay Rays.  Each of Bradley and Burrell are owed $9 million during the 2010 MLB campaign.  But Bradley is still owed $11 million in 2011 and the Rays want the Cubs to pick up some of that tab for making a dumb contract with Bradley.  The deal still could happen, but it will all depend upon what the Ricketts Family is willing to eat for the disgruntled outfielder.  If the deal does go through, then Hendry and the Cubs would likely try to move Burrell somewhere else, and would presumably have to eat a portion of the $9 million owed to Burrell for this season.

Assuming of all this happens, Hendry and the Cubs still need to find a starting center fielder.  The New York Yankees already traded for Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers.  The Boston Red Sox beat Hendry and the Cubs to the punch on free agent Mike Cameron, signing him to a 2-year $15.5 million deal (seems a bit much for a 37-year old center fielder to play left field).  There are still a few options out there.  Tops on the list is Marlon Byrd from the Texas Rangers.  Byrd is 32 and has flourished under hitting coach Rudy Jarmillo who is now the Cubs hitting coach.  Byrd is averaging a .295 batting average in his last 3 seasons in Texas, but has plenty of suitors competing for his services.  If it gets into a bidding war, the Cubs will likely lose out on the outfielder.  After Byrd, there are less attractive options like Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik.  If the Cubs don’t get Byrd, I would rather have them try to re-sign Reed Johnson instead of taking a shot on Ankiel or Podsednik.

Guess we’ll see what happens.  It is definitely frustrating watching all of these top notch teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies continue to improve while the Cubs sit idly by hoping that someone pecks them on a cheek and gives them a bone.  It is pretty pathetic.  The Ricketts Family and Manager Lou Pinella must be seething at the position Hendry has left the Cubs in this off-season and the off-season for the next couple of years with the Bad Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley contracts still crushing the books…

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GM Jim Hendry Accomplishes Absolutely Nothing at Winter Meetings

Posted on 10 December 2009 by Lou

Cubs GM Jim Hendry had 1 thing to do at the Winter Meetings this week – move Milton Bradley – even if it meant eating some of the $21 million owed to him over the next 2 seasons.  Did he accomplish that?  Of course not.  This guy really has to go.

Look at his quotes: “I thought there would be more trading.  I hoped there would be, obviously, for us.  I talked to a few guys, and they felt like they were going to make a deal in the next couple of days… For us, obviously, we would’ve loved to have made one here, but I don’t think it’ll be a detriment.  I think we’ll make a deal or two before the holidays.  It was a little slower pace and not as much action as I think all of us who sit in our seats would’ve liked.”

And later: “Right now, it seems like a lot more free agents are getting signed in January, and this year seems to be one of them… I think there will be opportunities to get a right fit in the outfield before we go to Spring Training.”

Ya think?!  What does this guy get paid for, other than to make bad deals that cripple the organization for the next 3-4 years?  This is a joke.  He can’t even accomplish the one essential thing that the Cubs need for 2010 – to move the tempermental and overrated Milton Bradley.  Something needs to give here.  I really hope the Ricketts Family closely assesses Hendry’s capabilities as a GM during the 2010 MLB season.  If we don’t see marked improvement and creativity, a change needs to be made…

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Cubs Still Trying to Deal Milton Bradley

Posted on 08 December 2009 by Lou

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Day 1 has come and gone in MLB’s Winter Meetings and Milton Bradley is still a Cub.  GM Jim Hendry has had several discussions with teams regarding moving Bradley, but that is all it has been thus far.  Once some of the other signings/trades take place, then teams might be ready to move on with an acquisition of Bradley.

Two possible scenarios include a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Pat Burrell.  Burrell did not play well in his only year in Tampa and he is owed around $9 million in 2010.  That means the Cubs will likely have to eat a good chunk of the remaining $11 million owed to Bradley in 2011.

The other scenario involves the New York Mets.  The Mets are looking to move 2nd baseman Luis Castillo who is owed $12 million over the next 2 seasons.  It’s unclear if the Mets would want the Cubs to pick up some of Bradley’s salary in that trade.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.  It is truly unlikely that the Cubs bring Bradley back, so expect a trade to happen within the next couple of weeks.  Even if the Cubs have to eat some of Bradley’s salary to get the deal done, it will be a good move in the long run for the frustrating Cubs.

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Moving Bradley Key to Successful Off-Season for Cubs, GM Jim Hendry

Posted on 05 December 2009 by Lou

CHICAGO CUBS JIM HENDRY LOU PINELLA

It boils down to this – if the Cubs can find a taker for disgruntled, troublemaker Milton Bradley, then the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry could have a successful and productive off-season leading up to the 2010 MLB schedule.  Hendry has already made moves – dealing the likes of Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to the Oakland A’s for prospects and to clear some salary cap space to sign new deals for arbitration-eligible players like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Ryan Theriot, Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot.

If Hendry can somehow find a team willing to take Bradley (full-well knowing that the Cubs will still have to pay a pretty chunk of the $21 million owed to him over the next 2 seasons), it will be a step in the right direction for Hendry.  Hendry has had a series of bad years at the helm and with a new owner in place, Hendry needs to prove his worth to the Ricketts family.  That will be easier said than done as Hendry’s bad moves have left the Cubs brass with little flexibility.

Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella plan to move Kosuke Fukudome back to his more comfortable right field position.  Then Hendry can concentrate on finding a center fielder and 2nd baseman for the 2010 Cubs.  Even though the Cubs did not offer arbitration to Reed Johnson, they have not closed off talks with his handlers.  So Johnson could be back to patrol center field at Wrigley Field next season.

Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot are in the running for the starting 2nd base job, so it is unlikely that Hendry will pursure any options outside the organization for that position.

The Cubs could also be in the market for a veteran right-handed reliever to complement John Garbow in the pen.  While the Cubs have a lot of up-and-coming young stars in the bullpen – Angel Guzman, Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Stevens and Justin Berg – Hendry and Pinella would love to see a little more experience back there in front of closer Marmol.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything good – Winter Meetings start next week in Indy…

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Infield Report Card – Aramis Ramirez – B+

Posted on 12 November 2009 by Lou

Cubs Nationals Baseball

Let’s take a look at our infield – at least this was a little more tolerable than the atrocious Cubs outfield.  The trio of Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez is solid, but when Ramirez went down for 2 months with a dislocated shoulder and when no 2nd baseman stood out from among the pack, the Cubs offensive weaknesses were clearly exposed…

Aramis Ramirez – 3rd Base

2009 Report Card Grade – B+.  This is kind of a tough one.  His numbers were solid as usual, but with only 3+ months to grade, it is tough to really analyze Ramirez based upon a full season.  Ramirez did not get the surgery he needed during the season, so he probably was not 100% healthy at any point after he dislocated his shoulder back on May 8th.  On the other hand, when he did play, he produced, so he has to be commended for his dedication and commitment, even when it was pretty obvious that the season was a lost cause by the middle of August.

2009 stats – 82 games; 306 at-bats; .317 batting average; .389 on-base percentage; 15 HR’s, 65 RBI’s; 46 runs scored; 43 K’s; 28 walks.

2008 stats – 149 games; 554 at-bats; .289 batting average; .380 on-base percentage; 27 HR’s, 111 RBI’s; 97 runs scored; 94 K’s; 74 walks.

If you process his “half-season” numbers out over a full year, you’d be loving life.  30 HR’s, 120+ RBI’s, 90 runs scored, high batting averages and on-base percentages, plus a strikeout number under 100 which is surprising for a power hitter.  In fact, in Ramirez’s 7 season with the Cubs, he has never struck out more than 94 times.  Pretty damn good.  At the age of 31, Ramirez still has a lot of good years left in him.  When healthy, Ramirez is the Cubs’ best hitter, even better than Derrek Lee.  Ramirez makes opposing pitchers respect everyone else in the lineup – he produces for the club even when he draws a walk or makes pitchers throw a lot of pitches to get his pitch counts up.  The Cubs clearly suffered from Ramirez’s 2-month absence in 2009.  The Cubs led the league in runs scored in 2008 and those numbers severely dwindled in 2009.  Sure, several other key players were either bad (Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot) or had been traded (Mark DeRosa), but I really feel like Ramirez is the pulse of the Cubs offensive unit. So Aramis goes, so the Cubs go.

Ramirez should be healthy and ready to go for the 2010 MLB schedule.  With a healthy Aramis back in the mix, I have a good feeling that the Cubs offense will start to click again.  Theriot is solid at the top of the lineup, Kosuke Fukudome showed a greater comfort level in 2009 than he did in 2008, and if the Cubs can find a good replacement for Milton Bradley (someone that actually tries every day), the lineup should be able to produce at an acceptable level – maybe not as good as 2008, but definitely better than 2009.  Soto and Soriano can’t be any worse than they were in 2009, so there should be a lot to cheer for in 2010 with the Cubs.

Ramirez is a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  Ramirez has 2 more years left on the 5-year, $75 million deal that he signed back in 2007.  The Cubs and Ramirez also have a mutual option for the 2012 MLB season, so hopefully the 2 sides can figure out a way to keep him in a Cubs uniform for at least another 4 years with some sort of 2-year or 3-year extension.  Health and consistency will be 2 keys for Ramirez in 2010, so let’s hope his off-season regimen gets him strong and ready for 2010.  That will make him a very popular man on the north side of Chicago…

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Outfield Report Card – Milton Bradley – F

Posted on 09 November 2009 by Lou

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

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…

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Outfield Report Card – Kosuke Fukudome – B

Posted on 08 November 2009 by Lou

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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…

Kosuke Fukudome – Center Field

2009 Report Card Grade – B.  One of the few “bright spots” for the Cubs in 2009 and I use that term loosely.  Fukudome appeared to play better in his 2nd major league season, but when you look at the numbers, it really doesn’t play out that way.

2009 stats – 146 games; 499 at-bats; .259 batting average; .375 on-base percentage; 11 HR’s, 54 RBI’s; 79 runs scored; 112 K’s; 93 walks.

2008 stats – 150 games; 501 at-bats; .257 batting average; .359 on-base percentage; 10 HR’s, 58 RBI’s; 79 runs scored; 104 K’s; 81 walks.

In any event, because Fukudome didn’t have such stark differences between his 1st and 2nd half in 2009, he seemed to be a more consistent player in 2009.  Fukudome showed good stretches during the 2009 campaign, but the .259 average and 100+ strikeouts 2 years in a row is a little concerning.  Fukudome just finished the 2nd year of his 4-year contract.  Paying an unproven 30-year old Japanese outfielder close to $50 million for a 4-year deal seemed a bit much at the time Jim Hendry convinced Kosuke to play for the Cubs.  And once again (see Soriano), the numbers proved that true.  Kosuke probably did not deserve a 4-year deal and he definitely did not deserve almost $50 million.  This will go down as another bad outfield move by Hendry – it followed the Soriano debacle and preceded the Bradley debacle, so Hendry really has to feel the pressure to produce over the next couple of years.  The Cubs payroll is mortgaged and inflexible because of the moves that Hendry has made the last 3 seasons, particularly in the outfield.  If the players don’t produce, or if the Cubs miss out on younger, more dependable free agent outfielders over the next few season (see Jason Bay, Matt Holliday), someone has to be held accountable.  And guess what Cubs fans, that person would be Jim Hendry.

On a positive note, Fukudome seemed to be a little more comfortable playing at the major league level in 2009.  If he can continued to find his rhythm here in the states, that could translate into better numbers.  He is also a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field so that also helps his cause.  Let’s hope Kosuke can right the ship a little bit more in 2010…

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