Friday, December 18, 2009

Cubs Send Milton Bradley to Seattle

The Chicago Cubs have traded outfielder Milton Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva and $6 million in cash.

This will be the eighth MLB uniform Bradley has worn since his debut with the Montreal Expos in 2001. Bradley has also had stops with the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers before signing a three-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs prior to the 2009 season.

His tenure with the Cubs was an utter disaster. Bradley struggled at the plate hitting .257 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 124 games in 2009 before he was suspended for the rest of the season on September 21st. The Cubs struggles last season weren't entirely Bradley's fault. Other than Derek Lee and Ryan Theriot, the Cubs offense was anemic. Carlos Zambrano's ERA ballooned to 5.63 and neither Kevin Gregg nor Carlos Marmol could cut it as the team's closer.

But Cubs fans took their frustrations out on Bradley and he gladly took his frustrations out on them. Bradley said, "You understand why they haven't won in 100 years here."

Yet when I think of Milton Bradley I think of the 2008 Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium the day before the All Star Game. The one where his Rangers teammate Josh Hamilton was hitting everything out of sight. Bradley was by his side cooling him off with a towel in between shots. He might have smiling bigger and brighter than anyone that night. Hamilton has had his own share of problems and perhaps Bradley felt at ease with him.

Bradley enjoyed his best season in 2008 when he hit .321 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI during his only year in a Rangers uniform. He led the AL in OBP (.436) and OPS (.999) in '08. So naturally there was a lot of excitement when he signed with the Cubs last January but it wasn't meant to be. The Cubs are glad that Bradley isn't toying with them anymore.

I'm sure there's some trepidation in Seattle. But they also know Bradley can play and contribute. The Mariners have added Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee this off season. Bradley could do a lot of damage in the middle of that lineup. Although one could have made such a comment when he signed with the Cubs. But the Cubs don't have Ken Griffey, Jr. Perhaps Griffey could act as something of an older brother to Bradley and be a calming presence. Should that happen Bradley could have the best year of his MLB career.

As for Carlos Silva, he is essentially a reclamation project. Prior to the 2008 season, Silva signed a four-year contract with the Mariners worth $48 million. It was not money well spent. Silva had an atrocious 2008 season. In 28 starts, he went 4-15 with an ERA of 6.46. Things improved little in 2009. He started only six games and went 1-3 with an ERA of 8.60 before he was shut down for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury. Silva previous pitched with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Minnesota Twins. His best season came in 2004 when he went 14-8 with a 4.21 ERA when the Twins won the AL Central Division.

Silva's greatest strength is that he has excellent control and walks very few batters. Over his career he has averaged less than two walks per nine innings pitched. In 2005, Silva only walked nine batters in 188 and one third innings pitched. On the flipside, he's not overpowering and gives up a lot of hits including home runs. The same year he walked only nine batters he gave up 212 hits including 25 home runs. Look for Silva to compete with Tom Gorzelanny for the fifth spot in the Cubs starting rotation.

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