Would you sign THIS man?
Disclaimer: as the founding member of the Illinoians For Fukudome Fan Club, my preference would be for our guy Kosuke to go back to Japan, watch lots and lots of video on one of those flawless Japanese plasma teevees they have over there that we won't be able to buy for another five years, and figure out a strategy to stand in the box like an adult and hit big league pitching. I honestly thought, by the end of the past season, that he would have made HIS adjustment to the league's adjustment to HIM. But he has not, which I believe is an indication that he may never adjust, which leaves the same gaping hole in RF that we had at the end of last year.
Putting aside the old (Ibanez) the lumbering (Dunn) and the lame (Baldelli), when looking for RF help that is available, all paths lead to this man at my left, a man who has had a new first name bestowed upon him (without any Ocho Cinco-esque legalities), the always Controversial Milton Bradley, board-game heir and cooler-tosser extraordinaire.
He's a free agent, who would not seek a Fukudome-type contract. He's 30, in his physical prime. He has a cannon for an arm, does not take plays off, and did I mention last year's .999 OPS? He is not the most durable of players, having only achieved 500 ABs once, in 2004. And, of course, he is certifiably batshit crazy. The chip on his shoulder could be made into a oaken dresser with matching armoire. On a team with Carlos Zambrano, no water container is safe.
Bringing someone like Milton Bradley into the fold goes against every instinct I have as a man and a Cubs fan. There ain't enough chemo in the world to zap this clubhouse cancer. A scary notion - most current teammates claim to like having him on the team, and most former teammates claim to be relieved that he is gone. Can YOU say "fear and intimidation"? I don't put a lot of stock in the numbers, but pound for pound, this man was the most productive right fielder in the game in 2008, realizing of course he played in Texas, which in these Colorado Humidor Days is the best launching pad in baseball.
Every day since the end of game 2, I have gone out to look at the RF splits from last year, just to see who was available, and even though Bradley's name was on top of every list, I would just skip over him, just like I skipped right over Barroid Bonds' name a few years back. I've talked myself out of Mark Teahen, although I think he may be the Man Most In Need Of a Change of Scenery. But I can't bring myself to back a man whose OPS was worse than Fukudome's. Of course I'd like Jason Bay, or Andre Ethier, or Brad Hawpe, or Josh Hamilton. But we ain't getting none of them.
I wonder, though, what really WOULD happen if you put this man in the cramped Cubs clubhouse, subjected him to the chicken-little mentality of the Chicago fandom, as well as the Chicago Media? Maybe things are a little bit TOO chummy down there - maybe we NEED a sour-ass bitch who's edgy day in, day out. We've tried cuddly (Sosa), goofy (Burnitz), aloof (Jock Jonez) and Asian (Dome). Maybe we're never gonna survive unless we get a little bit crazy.
Anyway, I'm not advocating this line of reasoning, by any means, just acknowledging the existence of the, um, most bang-for-the-buck free agent out there. Somebody's gonna end up with him next year, and at this point in my Cub fandom, I am starting to listen to solicitations from Satan. Why the hell not? You tell me...