Inside Mr. Met's Head

September 28, 2009 4:33 PM

No Games for Milton Bradley

Milton Bradley's "reign of terror" in Chicago has ended. At long last, the nightmare on the North Side has resulted in the indefinite suspension of the struggling outfielder and his ticket out of the Windy City. The Mets are in need of an outfield bat. Bradley will absolutely be available this off season, either through trade or if the Cubs just eat his money and release him. He's hitting .257/.378/.397 which although not great, his OBP shows patience. Furthermore, he's only one year removed from his .999 OPS season in Texas. After dealing with the Chicago press he'd be groomed perfectly for New York. Wouldn't he be a decent buy low acquisition for next season?

Even without considering his "character issues" (the apparent buzz word for "doesn't get along with the fans or press"), Bradley would be a huge disappointment in New York. Normally, I would be praising the sabermetric value of a high OBP but in this situation it inflates his real overall value and hides that this 31 year old has reached his peak. His OBP this season, an admittedly respectful .378, is marred by a wOBA (weighted on-base percentage), 33 points lower than his OBP. He's been getting lucky. His BB/K ratio is career average, yet his power numbers are way down, a drop of greater than 200 points of OPS below last season.

When analyzing Bradley's phenomenal 2008 season with Texas, one must look at the peripheral statistics to understand why this happened and whether or not Bradley could repeat his performance. If we had a time machine and could see that he, despite all odds, repeated his 2008 form, then Bradley would be a no-brainer signing. Remember, he hit .327/.436/.563 with the Rangers. If the Mets could keep Gary Sheffield's monstrous ego in check, Bradley would be fine. However, the odds of him repeating another magical season are almost nil. Bradley's BABIP in 2008 was an astonishing .396, higher than Ichiro Suzuki, the king of BABIP. The reason why Ichiro's BABIP is okay is because he gets on base using his speed and small contact instead of walks. As soon as he stops doing that, his production will go down sizably. There's almost zero chance that a normal player, swinging for power like Bradley instead of strictly contact would be able to keep a sustained BABIP like that for an entire season. 

Bradley also has a severe injury history. He has not played more than 130 games in a season since 2004 with the Dodgers. He missed plenty of time this season due to injury. Considering the injuries that demolished this season, why would the Mets go after another player who cannot stay healthy. Didn't the front office learn anything from the Moises Alou disaster? Even if he avoided day to day injuries, his ACL tear in 2007 has made it almost impossible for him to play the outfield well. He has posted a negative UZR/150 this season. If he was hitting better it could be overlooked but it's not like he's producing like Adam Dunn.

Bradley may be a good pickup for a team in the American League. If his success as a DH in Texas proved anything it's that he can still be a valuable player under the right circumstances. The Mets should be focusing on trying to acquire a pitcher, not a grouchy outfielder who can barely play the field.

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