Justice Is Served

December 18, 2009 6:48 PM

Contract dumps: Bad Bradley for bad Silva


Talking about a shocking trade that didn't help anybody: look at the Milton Bradley-for-Carlos Silva deal Friday that the Mariners and the Cubs agreed to.

One (Bradley) is a bad actor; the other (Silva) is a bad pitcher. Both carry heavy-duty contracts, which limited any potential suitors. It took two organizations with the same purpose to swallow this deal whole.

Yet if somebody had to pick a winner here -- and it'll be a photo finish -- he'd give the edge to the Cubs, because getting anybody to take Bradley off the team's payroll was a dream Cubs general manager Jim Hendry couldn't possibly have expected to come true.

Not that Silva will help the Cubs much; he won't. A lousy pitcher in the American League won't become a Cy Young winner merely by switching leagues. But Silva won't turn the clubhouse into a nut house, which Bradley is sure to do in Seattle.

Now, the Mariners say they are hopeful Bradley's nuclear temper will chill a bit under the influence of Grade A characters like Ken Griffey Jr. and Chone Figgins, a recent acquisition. They are also counting on a calmer, more sedate Milton Bradley being a productive Milton Bradley.

The Cubs thought that as well, which is why they ignored Bradley's baseball dossier and signed him to a three-year, $30 million contract. They liked the numbers he had put up in Texas the season before, and if they could squeeze similar numbers from him, they would have a potent bat to go with everything else manager Lou Piniella, a man with no patience for fools, had at his disposal.

But Bradley didn't produce his Texas numbers. He got hurt, which has been typical of his career. His time on the disabled list did little for his disposition, for once Bradley was healthy enough to play, he became Piniella's albatross.

Surly and often disingenuous, Bradley pointed fingers at everybody else but himself. He wasn't at fault; he wasn't the problem; he wasn't to blame for not hustling on plays or for exploding like Mike Tyson at the slightest provocation. 

Don't blame him for the team's struggles. 

Don't blame him for anything.

What people elsewhere always saw in Bradley is what the Cubs got: a bitter, unrepentant and unapproachable ballplayer.

They had expected more; they had expected a different Bradley. Hendry said as much when he trotted a smiling Bradley in front of the public last offseason and wrapped him in Cubs pinstripes. Hendry and the Cubs had big hopes for their mercurial signee. Chicago would be his fresh start, one more chance to play to the potential people always said Bradley had.

But the Indians hoped the same thing. So did the Padres and the Expos and the Dodgers, the A's and the Rangers -- eight teams in total over 10 seasons. 

Milton Bradley's 31 now, his days as a top-shelf prospect behind him these days. His career looks closer to its end than to its beginning, but he acts more like he's 13 than 31.

His is a tired act, one that will wear thin even under the influence of a sage old head like Griffey Jr. Not even Junior will be able cool the anger that blazes inside Bradley like a blast furnace. He belongs not in a clubhouse but in a psychiatric clinic.

To his credit, he says he wants to "move forward." But doesn't he say that everywhere he lands? Yet how can Bradley move forward without making peace with his past? Can his reputation as a bad character disappear simply because he wants it to?

Desperate teams make desperate moves, which explains the Bradley-Silva trade. But it was a deal with the devil for both the Cubs and the Mariners. Silva will hurt the Cubs whenever he pitches; and Bradley will serve as the ticking bomb in a Seattle clubhouse that has a lot more at risk than his bad contract. 

Winners here?

No, just two losers, and the Mariners lost more than the Cubs did.

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