Goatriders of the Apocalypse

2009 Players Preview - Milton Bradley

Milton Bradley
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It was a very happy day in my little world.  The Cubs - The Chicago Cubs, mind you - had passed on a couple of safer* options in Bobby Abreu or Adam Dunn and settled on one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball, Milton Bradley.

(* and by "safer", I mean worse.  And by "worse" I mean "stupid".  And by stupid, well, I really just mean worse...that wasn't nice of me, calling them stupid.)

Yeah, he's not as fan friendly as the guy traded to clear budget room for MB, but apparently that's not the deciding factor anymore.  For a team that's historically been built on a foundation of image-first and winning second, this was a bold move. 

The Stats

Holy Crap, you might have said, the Cubs just bought high on a guy coming off an Arlington-inflated season and now he has to try and translate this to the Friendly Confines!  Oh Noes!  But then you realized that Wrigley, as recently as 2007, was a better hitter's park than The Ballpark at Arlington and last year only lagged a bit behind in offensive assistance.

Oh.  Right.  But, you might have said, he's never approached those numbers before.  What do you think of that, Mr. Happy Pants? 

Well, I would say that his 163 OPS+ (63% better than league average) was totally his best season ever with the bat ever in history ever...except for the year before, when he posted a 167 OPS+ (although in limited playing time).  For you bean counters and stats mongers out there, 167 is a bigger number than 163. Oh, and don't call me Mr. Happy Pants.

Oh, sure, right.  That's great.  Use the season where he only played 42 games.  (That's what you say)  Me?  I say, okay, let's look at a couple other seasons.  How about 2003 when he had a 145 OPS+ or 2006 when he had a 153 OPS+?  This is hardly his first time rolling with the big bats.

And finally, how about this spring?  Sure, spring training stats don't mean blah blah blah, but he's hitting .468 with 4 homers, 5 doubles, and an amazing 1367 OPS.  That's really good, and all while playing in the field (something which some have said he can't handle).  So yeah, while spring stats maybe not matter, I'm still happy to see him tearing the cover off the ball. 

So, in summary: Milton Bradley hit good.

The Man

If you've ever read a Chicago paper or listened to a Chicago Sports Talkie, then you may have heard some mention of Bradley's "attitude".  Of course, you probably didn't hear much about his "winning" attitude or his "self confident" attitude.  No, they probably just left it at "bad".  Supposedly, Bradley has a bad attitude.  Is this true?  Well, I'm not going to pretend to have an real insight, but I will say that one should tread lightly when judging Bradley based on what you hear in the media.

A bit back, I wrote a bit about my interpretation of his "acts of aggression."    Mainly I felt that nothing Bradley had done was all that outrageous (and perhaps even justified) and I posted a quote from an article Milton Bradley himself wrote in the NY Times. 

As a 16-year-old sophomore at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in
California, I could only dream there would be days like that one. I
knew I wanted to be a major leaguer. Following in the footsteps of the
great Tony Gwynn (Poly’s most esteemed baseball alumnus) I feel like
I’ve finally arrived. Taking the field in the Big Apple for the final
year of historic Yankee Stadium, where so many greats have stood before
me, I am humbled. This is why Jackie Robinson endured unspeakable hate
and prejudice. So I — some 60 odd years later — have the opportunity to
play this great game of baseball. So I can stand up and be recognized.
So I can be proud to be who I am. So I can be proud to be an American.

To me, that sounds pretty good.  And coming from a lot of players, that would turn him into a saint.  But not Bradley.  No, MB continues to be portrayed in the media as a bad, angry, troublemaking guy.  And I think the folks over at ACB might have figured out why he's constantly portrayed negatively.  Here's a quote from Paul Sullivan explaining why he might find it hard to be impartial with regards to MB:

That’s the whole thing of our jobs.  We’re human and people that treat
us nicer probably get better coverage.  The people, you know, that are
rude to us.. I don’t want to say Milton was rude but he certainly
wasn’t very nice to me.  You know they’re not always going to get the
best coverage
.  So….You try and be an objective person but uh, you know, we are human, ...so.”

Um, yeah.  That's a good point, Paul.  We can't expect a journalist to be impartial.  That would be MADNESS.  I know Sullivan is supposed to be a friend to GROTA and that's cool, but this is a fairly insane comment.  I don't care if you're human, Paul.  Try just being a professional.

So, my point is, just try to take everything you hear from the mainstream media with a grain of salt, because they are biased.  And an admittedly biased reporter is only going to be giving you a slanted account of a players actions (as broken down nicely in that ACB post).

The Summary

So, in summary, Milton Bradley is a very scary man...in the batters box.  He hits the little baseball thing with his bat very hard and he makes it travel very far.  Which is nice.  With regards to everything else, who cares?  To paraphrase what Charles Barkley famous said, these people aren't heroes.  Let them play baseball and let's all stop worrying abot how they act off the field. 

God knows you wouldn't want the public to know what you do with your private time.

And yes, we all know about that.  And it's disgusting.

So please stop.

Good Stuff

I was with you on this one, and I wasn't a fan of the decision to sign him at first either. But looking at how everything played-out I would have to say they made the best move they could have given all the surrounding circumstances - & I was completely wrong about it. The cubs got the best hitter and best athlete in their price range, and it doesn't matter what ballpark you put him in, when healthy MB is a beast. A switch-hitter that just makes solid contact with almost every swing, he also has incredible pitch selection, and he's a fiery competitor without a doubt. He has his edge, but I don't know the guy, and I don't care what any journalist thinks of MB's social skills - All that matters is his health and production. If MB is productive and good with his teammates it doesn't really matter if he ever speaks to a reporter again, the cubs need him to hit not be nice at tea-parties. The bottom line is that Bradley is going to make a really good lineup a whole lot better, I don't really like him in the cleanup spot, but I'll take him in the lineup wherever he is. I would probably hit him 3rd in a lineup something like this:
Sori - DLee - Milton - Aramis - Soto - Font - Riot - Fuk - P

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