The Mets and Milton Bradley

Ken Rosenthal’s recent column reports that the Mets, among other teams, have been inquiring about the Cubs’ outfielder Milton Bradley.

Wow … where do we start?

Never mind Bradley’s troubled past. We’ve already learned that nice guys finish second-to-last, so stirring up the pot with a perennial malcontent won’t necessarily make things any worse. Let’s pretend Bradley is a model citizen and analyze him only according to the numbers.

Doing that, what you have is a 10-year veteran of MLB who managed 400 at-bats or more in a season only twice. Despite the fact that he supposedly has (or had) a world of talent with a rare combination of speed and power, he’s hit as many as 20 HRs in a season only once — as a Texas Ranger — and has never stolen more than 17 bases (in fact he hasn’t stolen more than 5 since 2006). His career batting average is a ho-hum .277. The statheads like his career OBP (.371) and his OPS (.821) and I have to agree he does have an ability to get on base. His fielding was at one time a strength, but as he’s aged that facet of his game has regressed (due in part to injuries collected over the years).

Now add in the fact that he is owed $21M over the next two years of a back-loaded contract. Is that money worth a guy who likely will play as often as Moises Alou, be a liability in the field, and hit like Dan Murphy (but with more walks) ? Wouldn’t the Mets be better off picking up someone like Eric Hinske or Austin Kearns on a one-year, $600,000 deal instead?

If you’re on the fence, then it’s time to consider the intangible issues. The old-school crowd likes his passion and enthusiasm, but shakes its head at his well-publicized temper tantrums, arguments with umpires, occasional lapses in focus, and similar bouts of self-destruction. You may be OK with taking on all that baggage if you believed that Bradley was the type of guy who was a game-changer, or could carry a team on his back. There might have been a time in his career when that was true, but if so those days are long gone. And again, even if you’re OK with the baggage because you think you need what he can provide offensively, why wouldn’t you just rescue Carl Everett from independent ball? He’d probably play for the league minimum, and give you a similar package. Or bring back Gary Sheffield, who actually WAS a model citizen in 2009 (and has appeared in more games over the past three years).

The only thing that could justify the Mets talking to the Cubs about Milton Bradley is a more elaborate, diabolical plan to drastically change the current roster. For example, perhaps Bradley is necessary part of a salary dumping deal that would also send Carlos Zambrano and Derrek Lee to Flushing, in return for a package that includes one of the Mets’ underperforming but comparatively inexpensive starting pitchers and Luis Castillo — which in turn would clear the way for Orlando Hudson to sign on as a free agent. If nothing else, it would be a splash, and proof the Mets were committed to making significant changes to their ballclub.

But if the buzz between the teams is a simpler matter of Bradley heading to New York by himself, I’m not sure what sense it makes.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. edfever October 22, 2009 at 5:10 pm
    Joe,

    For years fans have complained that the Mets under Omar have avoided the “Bad guy” types, not only does Milton have an edge but he usually puts up excellent numbers. If you then throw in that it would more then likely be a swap of bad contracts Ollie or Castillo for Bradely and your killing three birds with one stone…

    While I can see the thought behind it, with that said I won’t touch him. The minute he’s at odds with the NY media he will implode under the pressure, Chicago is nothing campared to here when the vultures come out it would be bobby bonnilla all over again. I wish it wasn’t true because I love his bat and aggressive attitude.

  2. joejanish October 22, 2009 at 5:46 pm
    Ed, I don’t know about those “excellent numbers” you speak of. He looked like he might develop into an offensive force when he was in his early 20s, but that never materialized. When you add up his injury issues the offense isn’t nearly enough to equal the salary — BEFORE you include the “bad guy” factor. Again, compare his numbers to Kearns or Hinske and tell me if Bradley is $10M better than either of them.

    If the Mets want to put an end to the criticism concerning avoiding “bad guys”, I’d prefer they make a $20M point with Manny Ramirez for one year rather than Bradley for two. :-)

    I do agree with you with the NYC media issue. He wouldn’t last two weeks facing them on a daily basis. This guy had trouble with the writers in San Diego, for goodness sakes!

  3. edfever October 22, 2009 at 6:21 pm
    Joe,

    I’m with you keep Bradley out of NY even if it meant we could rid ourselves of Ollie or Castillo..I was playing Devil’s advocate giving the reasons why someone might approve of the deal..

  4. Tommy2cat October 22, 2009 at 7:21 pm
    Joe,

    I really like your analyses. Can’t say I’m in favor of stirring things up with Milton Bradley. Could you imagine last season, PLUS his headaches?

    What I’d really like to see is Met brass put together a package for the Red’s Brandon Phillips, who is in his prime and has Mookie’s pleasant disposition. That would solve 2nd base for the next few years and give us the liberty to assess Pagan in left or go after someone like Carl Crawford, as Phillips provides additional pop from a non-pop position.

    A line-up of…

    Reyes
    Pagan
    Wright
    Beltran
    Phillips
    Murphy
    Francouer
    Santos/Thole

    …won’t necessarily bludgeon opponents, but it does provide a very even amount of speed, power, obp and, the best part, everyone is still quite young. Kind of like the 1984 Mets…

    Bradley – moves in the wrong direction in two ways – away from youth and a step back in demeanor.

  5. Harry Chiti October 22, 2009 at 9:10 pm
    Joe, I don’t think Met fans for the most guys want bad guys, they want Dykstra type guys who bust themselves every play and make the other teams’ fans hates. Guys like Victorino. He’s hated (outside Philly) but he’s not a bad guy. Think anyone in Philly thinks of him as a bad guy like Bradley?
  6. joejanish October 22, 2009 at 9:31 pm
    Tommy – thanks for the kind words. I like your thinking re: Phillips, but do the Mets have the bait to pry him away? Certainly worth investigating.

    Harry – I’m with you 100%

  7. Tommy2cat October 23, 2009 at 5:17 am
    Joe,

    I’ve traded F-Mart in my head so often I have forgotten he’s still with the organization. When one considers trading for prime talent such as Phillips, we should bear in mind our surplus and the needs of our trading partner.

    We have a surplus of left-handed hitting prospects in our minor league system. In addition to Daniel Murphy & Josh Thole, the farm roster includes Ike Davis, Chris Carter, Reese Havens, F-Mart and Kirk Nieuwenhuis – we’re definitely hangin’ to the left.

    Undoubtedly, the Reds will looking to replace Phillips and add some pitching. So, perhaps a package of (gulp) Castillo + cash, Havens or Tejada, F-Mart & Misch or Niese will get it done.

    At first blush, it appears to be alot to give up, but no one is going to miss Castillo and his 12 doubles. F-Mart can go fly a kite, I’d rather keep Haven and Niese and likely wouldn’t trade both in this package if F-Mart goes. I value Niese over Misch.

  8. CatchDog October 23, 2009 at 9:23 am
    Since we’re throwing around possible trades with the Cubbies, here’s mine; Carlos Zambrano & Derrek Lee for Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo, Brad Holt, Scott Moviel & Nick Evans.

    While giving up our current #3 (Holt) and #9 (Moviel) righty pitching prospects and a Met with no apparent future (poor Nick Evans), the Mets would be swapping a couple of bad contracts (Perez & Castillo), while filling two big holes for next season.

    Zambrano could easily be the impact #2 starter needed to pair up with Johan. And Lee, who’s in the last year of a 12MM contract, will provide gold glove defense at first along with power and high average (.306/.394/.579 with 35 HRs). Derrek would fill the position nicely until Ike Davis is ready. He’s also a great clubhouse presense and leader. Ironically, Derrek hit the longest home run at Citi Field this season.

    Although Zambrano’s K/9 and BB/9 have been trending in the wrong direction the last few seasons, his fiery attitude and competitiveness would be welcomed on the roster. I also believe a change in scenery would benefit him greatly. He’ll be 29 next June, has held the opposition to a career .230 batting average and could easily be a switch hit, pinch hitter off the bench as evidenced by his 20 homers and 133 career hits.

    This would allow the Mets to go after a second baseman (O Dog, Uggla, Phillips or Jaimie Carroll) and then look to the free agent market for a left fielder (Mike Cameron?) another starter (Wolf, Pavano, Garland) and stop gap catcher (Molina, Barajas, Miguel Olivo or Zaun) until Josh Thole is ready.

    Hot stove, here we come !!

  9. isuzudude October 23, 2009 at 9:48 am
    Catchdog, do you really think there’s a parrellel universe out there in which the Cubs would give up both Zambrano and Lee, without parting with Bradley, and take on both Castillo and Perez? It certainly won’t be the reality we’re living in. It’s fun to conger up trade proposals and think of the what-might-be’s, but try to keep your proposals realistic.

    I, too, like the Brandon Phillips idea, but I’m afraid the Mets aren’t willing to trade the peices it would take to get a deal with Cincinatti done. And perhaps they should be gunshy. Phillips is signed relatively cheaply thru the next 3 seasons, so if the Mets are serious at all they’d have to at least start with offering the Reds FMart and Holt, with probably a Parnell or Niese thrown in there. And if the Mets are sending Castillo to Cincy in lieu of an extra prospect, they’re going to have to pick up a bulk of his remaining contract. Including a player like Misch is pointless because no one other than the Mets holds any value in him. Remember, less than a year ago he was flat out released by San Francisco. Now he’s in a package for Brandon Phillips. Not likely.

    As for Milton Bradley, just because the Mets are losers with ‘nice guys’ doesn’t mean they’ll be winners with ‘bad guys.’ This isn’t an instance of one or the other. Bradley is best suited as a DH, where his defensive liabilities won’t be seen and he can rest his body and avoid constant injury. CitiField is also one of the more cavernous stadiums, so Bradley would just be pushed further to the limits by the dimmensions. And I agree that the NY media would turn Bradley into even more of a raging lunatic than he already is. All signs point towards failure, so if I’m in charge, I want Bradley anywhere but on my team in 2010.

  10. Mic October 23, 2009 at 10:23 am
    I-dude: Would you trade Pelfrey to cincy for Brandon Phillips?

    as far as the post….No!!….and No thanks. I’d rather eat the Ollie money or better yet convert him (back) into a reliever.

  11. isuzudude October 23, 2009 at 3:01 pm
    mic: probably not, and I doubt the Reds would do the deal either. From the Mets persepctive, the team needs all the pitching they can get their hands on. Especially a pitcher who is still only in his mid 20s and throws 95+. Pelfrey was awful in ’09 and is going to require a lot of nurturing in the future, but now would be the epitome of selling Pelfrey low. Which means you’re not going to get equal value for him. Plus, the Mets already have a capable second baseman, and have Ruben Tejada and Reese Havens waiting in the wings. So you’d be trading from a position of weakness to add on to a position of strength. Doesn’t make sense.
    As for the Reds, you take away a young, cheap, gold glove, allstar 2B and give them a low strikeout, one pitch, headcase of a pitcher. I think their answer would be an emphatic “no.”

    Again, if you want Phillips, even if you include Pelfrey in the deal, you have to add on with either FMart or Holt, which is too much for me knowing how thin the farm system is.

  12. CatchDog October 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm
    Isuzudude;

    There is a parallel universe and it is located at the intersection of Clark & Addison in Chicago. There have been numerous rumors regarding Carlos Zambrano’s tenuous future with the Cubs. In fact, there has already been a proposed trade involving Ollie and Zambrano. With Big Z owed almost 54 million thru 2012, his continued embattlement with management and fellow players, the Cub front office has insinuated that he makes for a prime salary dump or swap. Perez and Castillo would equal those amounts, assuming the Mets can sell high on Castillo.

    As for Derrek Lee, he’s in the last year of his contract. There has also been talk of the Cubs looking to trade him, with Micah Hoffpauir heir apparent at first. MLB Rumors recently stated that in the event Lee was dealt, the Cubs would be looking for a right handed first baseman platoon (hence Nick Evans) to add depth to the position.

    Therefore, if the Mets were to offer two of their top 10 prospects in addition to the above mentioned players, I would call it realistic. At least it would be a good starting point.

    As for Bradley, you’re correct in that he’s probably going back to DH in the American League. The only NL team to appear to have any interest in him is San Diego and they’d probably want him for half of his remaining salary.

    Try not to be so supercilious in your responses. It lowers yourself immeasurably in some of our eyes.

  13. joejanish October 23, 2009 at 3:33 pm
    And please, EVERYONE – take CatchDog’s lead and start using words like “supercilious here”. It helps raise the level of this blog, and keeps out the riff-raff.

    :-)

    Nice conversation going here.

  14. isuzudude October 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm
    I apologize if I came off a little ornery, but usually with the offseason comes every Met fan with pipedreams of trading our junk for other teams’ treasure. And then these same fans will be the first to lambaste Omar & company for not taking enough action over the winter and heeding their advice to trade Pat Misch and Angel Pagan for Jacoby Ellsbury (for example).

    I do not doubt the Cubs may be looking for takers for Zambrano and Lee this offseason, but I absolutely have to figure they know they could do better than Ollie, Castillo, Holt, and 2 nobodies. Regardless of Zambrano’s fued with management or drop in strikeout rate, he’s still on the good side of 30 and has had an ERA of under 4.00 in each of his 8 full seasons with the Cubs. So I say he’s full worth the money he has owed to him over the next 3 years, while the same probably can’t be said for the enigmatic Oliver Perez and the aging, one-dimensional Luis Castillo. That wouldn’t be a salary swap; it would be a steal – for the Mets. Not to mention, Zambrano has a full no trade clause and has no intentions of waiving it: http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2009/sep/17/sports/chi-17-cubs-bits-chicago-sep17. I think that news goes a little farther than some random trade rumors and hearsay.

    But, hey, mark an asterisk next to this proposal and if some sort of it comes true involving the Mets this winter, you can come to my house, punch me in the nose, and tell me you told me so. The crow I eat and the blood I taste will be worth it knowing Omar stole two great players for very little.

  15. CatchDog October 23, 2009 at 5:43 pm
    ‘dude;

    I appreciate your candor. Actually, I’ve begun putting together the original crow pie that I’ll be eating from our first go round at the season’s beginning. I’m sure you recall; I opined the Mets were gonna do well this season –prospects and all. You indicated that the Mets were no better than third place also rans.

    Nuff said.

    Anyway, I’m hoping that Omar (Jeff) are scared enough this offseason that without a decent upgrade to the roster, the fanbase will resemble the late 70′s attendance at Shea. Imagine the shiny new stadium taking on the name Ghost Citi Field.

    Whatever works.

    BTW- Pagan and Pat Misch for Ellsbury would never fly. We’d definitely be required to throw in Wilson Valdez…