(or: it's word-play on how a mariner relates to the sea)
Unbelievably, there's apparently a Milton Bradley trade scenario out there that the Cubs need poking and prodding to consider accepting. I'm writing of course about the proposed deal to Seattle that would land the Cubs not only a washed up pitcher with 23 million left on his contract, but cash on top of it to boot.
Jim Hendry, who hates Bradley, probably can't accept this deal fast enough.
Carlos Silva is not your standard Cubs starter, and if he came to Chicago he would hopefully not be used in that capacity. Perhaps he could be the Glorified Ball-boy. Or maybe they could have him serve as the gofer for Lou Piniella's coffee runs. It doesn't matter, but what I don't see serving as a benefit to the Cubs is the acquisition of a 30-year-old starting pitcher who managed an 8.60 ERA in the 6 starts he had last year. And even when he's healthy, we're talking about a guy who's never posted an ERA as a stater below 4.19, who's never struck out more than 89 batters in 202 innings, who would probably tax a weak middle infield at Wrigley.
Then again, Silva's best year was as a reliever -- way back in 2002 -- and his career totals in relief include a 3.73 ERA in 176 innings pitched. Perhaps it's not a bad trade if the Cubs can stomach paying a guy 8 figures to pitch in the 7th inning. Either way, if you want to know how desperate Hendry is to unload Bradley, break out your reading glasses to study the details of this trade once it's official. Even if the Mariners end up paying a portion of Silva's contract, the Cubs might be best served by simply releasing Milton and moving on.
Derrek Lee -- 2 years, $25 million?
Over in the Shoutbox, Goat Reader Eddie suggests that the Cubs should look into signing Derrek Lee to a 2-year extension for $25 million, minus a trade clause. He feels that D-Lee has earned it, the Cubs and Derrek should make a mutual expression of loyalty and get the deal done, and if things go sour he can always get dealt. Problem is, paying a first baseman in his mid 30's that kind of bread is its own no-trade clause, not to mention Lee would be a 5-and-10 player. A 5-and-10 is a guy who has played 10 years in the majors and 5 years with his current team, and he can't be traded without permission. So, for all sorts of reasons, $12.5 million is too much.
Realistically speaking, Hendry just might not be opposed to offering Derrek a 1 or 2 year deal, but if the money paid per year goes beyond 7 figures, then it's too much. The only problem is that Lee is one good season away from justly demanding an 8 figure salary, which puts the Cubs in a difficult situation. Except for one thing:
Baseball games are not won through demonstrations of loyalty or pandering to fan favorites. As much as I like Lee -- and I like him a lot -- it would be pretty stupid of the Cubs to go nuts trying to retain his services. Baseball is not short of players who can handle first base, and the Cubs may have viable options on their team at this moment who would be less expensive long-term solutions once Lee's contract is up.
Y'know. Like Micah Hoffpauir. (HAH!)
My initial reaction upon hearing this:
"If the real world was more like wrestling, at the press conference to announce this trade, Jim Hendry would rip off his suit and tie to reveal a Cardinals shirt and then proceed to give Stone Cold Stunners to the entire Ricketts family and then down a case of Busch Lights with Albert Pujols."
Every deal he has made for the last 4 years, not involving someone named Theodore Roosevelt, has made us worse*
(*not actual statistic, just gut reaction while typing with blind rage)
Then I did some more sleuthing through Silva's stats and I figured it out. LOU HAD TO BE BEHIND THIS. As we all know, Sweet Uncle Lou is... to put this kindly, not very fond of Walks. The ONLY stat in all of Carlos Silva's numbers that points to anything remotely positive is his BB/9. He has the lowest walks per 9 innings of anyone in baseball.
And that, my friends, is apparently worth the career era of 4.72...
UPDATE: Sullivan says the Mariners are throwing in $9MM which essentially makes us owe Silva 2.5 this year and 11.5 next year. So.. We're basically saving 7 million. I no longer know how I feel. My blind rage has turned to confusion.
I predict the Cubs will NOT trade Milton Bradley. He will either be back next year, or he will be released.
Winter meetings: today's rumors started that maybe we were going to send Bradley to the Rays, then sending Burrell to the Mets for Luis Castillo, then no we aren't. Then it was sending Bradley to the Royals for Gil Meche, then no we aren't. I guess every team with a bad contract is going to get pinged one way or another this week.
The Ricketts don't want to simply release him, because someone will pick the guy up and use him the next two years on our dime. And who knows, if that someone happens to be a small-market team with little chance of competing for a title, then Bradley might even produce nice numbers, and not attempt to murder anyone. I still maintain that is the cleanest solution, because in any of these your-bad-contract-for-ours that keep coming up, rarely is the return of any value to us.
We don't need Castillo when we have Jeff Baker, Ryan Theriot, and the Great Starlin Castro on the horizon. =) We don't need Pat Burrell when we have the Human Hamstring Pull making $18MM in left field already. We had a Kevin Millwood/Gil Meche-esque figure already, his name was the Marquis du Suck, and HIS contract is up, now. We would have to pay Millwood this year, as well pay something in 2011 for nothing, since Texas would insist on some large moneys. As for Meche, his contract runs 2 more years, same as Bradley.
I just want to kick some puppies when I think we'd be further ahead just keeping Marquis' dumb ass around last year, leaving Fukudome in right and running a Scrappy White Johnson/Fuld platoon. If Hendry told us at this time last year that our 2009 would include Marquis and a lot of Sam Fuld, we would have rioted like prisoners on a full moon. But if we'd done that, we wouldn't have finished any worse, Marquis would be off the books, and the $20 some million that Bradley is wiping his rear with could be used to chase down a leadoff-hitting center fielder not named Marlon Byrd.
But that is revisionist history, the money is spent, and we have to move the malcontent and the rest of the league knows it. The best possiblilty right now is to end up with 2 very expensive years of Gil Meche. Nevertheless, we are going to end up with someone else's useless part, who will sit there, pick his teeth, strikeout pinch hitting a couple of times a week, and haul in the cash that could be used to attract two Quality ballplayers here...but at least he won't make everyone else in the clubhouse walk on eggshells, and at least I won't want to punch him in the ween.
Your 2010 Cubs! Excitement! Catch it!
I'm going to cut to the chase on this one because I think it's such a good idea.
Milton Bradley and Ryan Theriot, for Curtis Granderson and Dontrelle Willis.
Boom. Absorb that gem of amazingness for a second while I tell you about how awesome it is.
Before we try to decide which baseball numbers are most relevant, let's talk cash for a minute here.
As you well know, MB is owed $9mil in '10, and $12mil in '11 (guh).
Ryan Theriot is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, so it's hard to say what he'll be owed. Let's just call it $2mil every year til 2013 when he becomes a free agent.
As for the Tigers, Dontrelle Willis is owed $12mil next year (!), and Granderson is owed $5.5mil, $8.25mil, and $10mil over each of the next three seasons, with an option in 2013.
SUMMARY: Cubs would pay MB and RT about $27mil over the next three seasons, Tigers would pay CG and DW a combined $36mil.
Let's move beyond business, to baseball.
The Cubs are (still, even after trading away Mark DeRosa,) too right-handed. They've got a right-handed shortstop that plays league average defense there -- surely, a commodity, but not necessarily an automatic keeper, either.
They need a center fielder, and they could use a lefty. Oh yeah, there's also the whole get-rid-of-Milton deal.
Granderson bats lefty and plays center. And even though he's traditionally led off, his .453 slugging percentage would put him behind only Lee and A-Ram of the Cubs' everyday players in the category -- as in, perhaps could be that middle-of-the-order lefty RBI guy.
The Tigers' starting shortstop, according to their depth chart, is some guy with a last name starting with D that I have never heard of. As in, they could use an unterrible shortstop. And given the state of the Detroit economy, they'd thank God if Hendry called and offered to take D-Train off their hands.
Would taking on Dontrelle be a complete waste of money? Maybe. But aside from the amount owed him in 2010 being exactly equivalent to MB's 2011 requirement, the NL is an easier place to pitch than the AL.
The Cubs get rid of Milton. They lose Theriot, who is a player with positive value, but they have Andres Blanco's glove on the roster, and Starlin Castro on the fast track. They'd also get a quality left-handed bat to man center field for them.
The Tigers get a good shortstop, a guy that's proven he can mash at the DH spot, and the chance to erase the $12 million owed to Dontrelle from their books.
One potential challenge: convincing Dombrowski, who's wanting to get Granderson's contract off the books, to take on Milton's 2011 commitment (the 2010 pill should be easier to swallow given the savings the deal generates on D-Train's deal).
To that end, I'd be willing to spend a few million 2011 dollars on getting Milt's contract within a workable range to make the deal happen. That's how much value I think the trade adds to the Cubs.
Beyond that reason, tell me why this isn't a great idea.
OR Pat Burrell? Or Kevin Millwood?
For a few hours last night, Cub fans may have felt our long national nightmare was soon to end, based on hot rumors of a three-way trade with the Mets and Jays that would plop Don't Wake Daddy in Canada, and return us Luis Castillo. But last night, Toronto (wisely?) quashed this rumour as they spell it there. They don't want any part of the Milton Bradley Experience, even if it means they get to crawl out from the bottom of The Lyle Overpay Contract.
They'd take MB for Vernon Wells, possessor of "the Worst Contract Ever" according to one MLB GM. Probably his own. But otherwise, no thank you. Canadians are nothing if not polite.
OK, so while Hendry continues bouncing around O'Hare Hilton with a fake smile glued onto his mug, let's just suppose we simplify this equation a bit...take the Jays out, and make it an even swap for Castillo. I believe that he and Miguel Cabrera are the only remaining 2003 Marlins who Hendry has not acquired, after Juan Pierre, DLee, Todd Hollandsworth, Chad Fox, Ryan Dempster...
Seriously, though? Castillo has a two-year deal for a few less bucks than Bradley. I certainly remember Luis as a monumental pain in our ass in 2003 - 2005 with the Fish. He hit second behind Lucky Pierre, and it seemed they were always on base, driving our pitchers nuts with infield choppers and steals. Since then, he has ended up in Queens, and last year with Aaron Heilmann here, Castillo was the designated scapegoat and fan (least) favorite. Ask any Met fan and they will tell you that Castillo is lower than whale shit.
As with Heilmann, there is a grain of truth to the accusation, but neither one are as bad as Mets fans make them out to be. Plus, he does have a career .370 OBP, he hit over .300 last year with a .385 OBP. He was a Gold-glove 2B as recently as 2005, and he isn't a bad guy on a personal level. Finally, and most importantly, he is not Milton Bradley.
But, keep all this in mind: he is no more of a leadoff hitter than Ryan Theriot. He has no power whatsoever, ok. In fact, his offensive numbers are similar, certainly not better, than The Riot's. He is nowhere near the hitter Fukudome is. Also, he is not ideal for us since we have at least two decent second basemen already on our roster - The Riot and Baker. You can't pair him, at least offensively, with the only decent shortstop we have, Andres Blanco. Although, if we did that, our up-the-middle defense would be greatly improved.
He is not the little slice of hell on the basepaths he was with Florida. I believe that if we were to bring in Luis Castillo, it would not improve our team, outside of the fact that we would no longer have Bradley - and as crappy as he was last year, he contributed as much if not more offensively than Fukudome or Soriano amongst our outfielders. What I am saying here is a Castillo-for-Bradley swap would leave us with an even larger offensive shortfall.
Even if getting Castillo for Bradley seems to be a pleasant enough notion, fact is, on a purely baseball basis, Luis Castillo is just about the LAST thing we need.
The next-to-last thing we need is a left-fielder, and Tampa Bay is also talking to us about MB in an attempt to dump Pat (the Bat) Burrell on us. As I have said before, Pat the Bunny would be just as useful to us at this point. Our left fielder of the recent past, present, and future is in house, possessor of the Second Worst Contract in History. Once again, he's a more well adjusted human being than Bradley, but at least Bradley plays right field.
Texas would like to pawn Kevin Millwood and his $10 MM committment for 2010 on us, and would also like us to eat most if not all of Bradley's 2011 salary as well. Man, what does this mean? Millwood is essentially the Marquis Du Suck without the decent bat. Plus, Marquis' salary he signed with us has expired. So what we've done, essentially, if we make THIS trade, is give Jason Marquis a one year, $10 million extension to be our fifth starter in 2010, PLUS we had to deal with the Muppet Show for a year, plus we will be giving Texas around 6 million dollars American in 2011 for nothing.
We shoulda just kept Marquis' dumb ass around and ran Hoffpauir out there in RF in 2009 to commit his 20 errors and hit .240. We'd be better off.
I have one more wacky thought, but I want to simmer it a little before I lay it on all of you. Later...
Our friends at MLBTR are all over this John Grabow story. Apparently the Cubs want to extend the guy's time with the Cubs via a two-year deal worth $6 or 8 million.
The 31-year old Grabow came over from the Pirates in the Tom Gorzelanny trade late this past season. And when he pitched, he was mostly, like, kinda OK.
The ERA was fine, I guess, at 3.36 over the course of the entire year (service with both teams).
But guys. Honestly. We all know there's a lot more to pitching than ERA.
Like you know how Lou Piniella hates/despises/loathes/gets really frikkin' mad about walks?
Over the course of his career, Grabow has issued 4.15 walks per nine
innings. If you want to think of him as a set-up man, that means he'll be walking a guy every other night.
As a fan, that would piss me off. Imagine how many baby seals Lou Piniella will be clubbing next season if Grabow pulls this crap every other day.
The Cubs should know better. Why must they insist on wasting several million dollars every year on a crappy, oldish veteran who's not really all that good?
Like Scott Eyre or Bob Howry? Or worse, AARON FREAKING MILES?!
For a team with a payroll well over $100 million, this really isn't a huge deal. But check this math out:
Reed Johnson + John Grabow + Aaron Miles, at $3 million each equals...
...Milton Bradley's 2010 salary.
Going by the OPS+ statistic as an indicator of hitting productivity, do you know who was third on the team in 2009 (amongst players of 300+ ABs) in OPS+, after DLee and ARam?
No fair peeking at the tag. Of course it was Milton Bradley. He barely edged out Fooky in both OBP and SLG. Miltie's OPS+ was 104, which roughly means he was slightly above the average major league baseball player at the plate. Fooky's was 101, which means he was pretty much an average MLB hitter, in terms of offensive impact. Soriano, Fontenot, Soto, and Theriot were all below 90, which makes them all well below the average MLB hitter in terms of overall offensive impact.
How can this be? Didn't Soriano hit 20 homers? Didn't The Riot hit nearly .300? Well sure, but when you take into consideration Theriot's lack of power and Soriano's horrendous plate discipline...let's just admit that even though it appeared Bradley sucked, particularly with men on base, that strictly speaking, he was actually one of our better hitters last year. Well, actually, he did suck. But Soto, Soriano, Fontenot, and Theriot sucked worse.
Certainly I am not advocating keeping Bradley around, and I am willing to concede that his malingering ass made the Cubs Clubhouse a miserable place to be this year, which is bound to affect play somewhat. But if we do not upgrade the offense in at least three of the spots, at LEAST three (because I do not believe that DLee can match his 2009 next year), then we are doomed once again to finish 13th in a 16 team league in offense.
Pray. Go pray hard that Soto grows a brain and a hear, Soriano grows a knee ligament, and Fukudome's wife builds him a big shiny spreadsheet that shows he would come out way ahead if he played 2010 in Japan.
I guess Milton Bradley is out, after all.
The time is coming, and soon, when we will all have nothing else better to do but to sit here and figure out what Jim Hendry needs to do before next April. I am making a promise to all here, today:
I will never again stump, rail on, beg or otherwise endorse the acquisition of a player for the Cubs.
The reasons are simple: I suck at it, because I don't "scout" the rest of the league. See, I loved playing baseball as a kid, and I loved watching it as a kid. Since then, I don't play much baseball, and I also don't watch much baseball. I only watch baseball games that involve the Cubs, so the only experience I have in seeing 'other' players is when they hit against Cubs pitching, or pitch against Cubs hitting. In most cases, this tends to reflect on opposing players more favorably than they deserve to be.
In my mind, the most valuable players in the league are Hunter Pence, Ryan Ludwick, and Jayson Werth. They just wear our ass out. Oh, and PooHoles. Can't forget him. When I go look at their stats, they're not the best players in the league, not by a long shot. Could have fooled me.
What I will do this winter is talk about who should go. It appears that Cubs management is going to go ahead and choke back the $21 million they still owe Bradley. It also appears they have no desire to bring back Rich Harden. Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Big Z, Randy Wells, they're all gonna take their turns. Tom Gorzellany and Jeff Samardzija will make starts before the season ends. Lou appears to be done with Harden.
Rich has been quite healthy, for him, this year, still logs lots of strikeouts, is still hard to hit, and still has an ERA of 4, which is league average. So why is Lou through with him? Could be the low number of innings pitched per average start, a Harden start automatically means a busy night for the bullpen. Could be whispers of the type of salary he expects for 2010? Or, according to several comments made by beatwriters, that Harden finishes third (a distant third, but still) in the Most Crazy category in the clubhouse behind Bad Milton and Zambrano. The writers do not elaborate on the basis behind their ranking, outside of the conclusion that he only likes to pitch when it is dark and cold, a conclusion that I always considered to lack intellectual rigor.
But, if you're going out to buy a Cubs jersey today, steer clear of the #40, unless it is on super-mega-closeout-clearence. And, even then, steer clear. Nothing dorkier than wearing jerseys of ex-Cubs, unless they are retired numbers like 10, 14, 23, 26 or 31.
Milton Bradley, who was sent home for the season last week, is seriously contemplating retirement from baseball according to a possibly made-up source out of Chicago.
Bradley has been plagued with problems, from injury to attitude, for a number of seasons with his conflictual nature coming to a head this year with the Cubs. While he would be passing up on $20 million guaranteed were he to quit baseball, Bradley says that he is wealthy enough to live comfortably.
"I can support my family," Bradley said. "I've got money. I'm a smart man, and I understand how to run a business."
To prove his point, Bradley unveiled a product demo for his future career outside of sports -- growing a variety of nuts.
"My family is descendant of peanut farmers," Bradley said. "So we're going to take my very marketable name and turn it into a brand that will compete with Planter's."
Bradley will begin his nut business as soon as he retires, whether it is this winter or several years from now.