Milton Bradley, It’s Not a Game

When the Chicago Cubs signed outfielder Milton Bradley before the 2009 season I found myself scratching my head wondering what exactly the boys on the northside of Chicago were thinking. While Bradley is a decent outfielder with plenty of pop in his bat he brings enough baggage to outfit the whole team in new luggage.

Bradley is one of those players who has a tremendous amount of talent but is such a head case that every team he has played for has welcomed the opportunity to cut him loose. Diamondbacks fans have seen Bradley up-close during his stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.

There is no question that his offensive numbers have been impressive making the team better on paper. The problem has been how he conducts himself outside the foul lines that give him the reputation of being a cancer in the clubhouse.

During this past season Bradley struggled but instead of taking ownership for his poor production he chose to blame his teammates, the organization, and the fans. As has been his history, he played the race card challenging that he did not get the proper amount of respect due to the color of his skin.

I will give the Chicago Cubs credit; they met with Bradley and basically banished him from Wrigley Field and are now willing to cut all ties with the outfielder. This off-season the Cubs will attempt to trade Bradley to basically anyone who will take him into their clubhouse.

Bradley’s agent has come out saying there are numerous teams interested bringing in the troubled outfielder. Personally I find that hard to believe but in this day and age I guess anything is possible.

When word got out that the Arizona Diamondbacks were having internal discussions about bringing Bradley to the desert I was stunned. This story made no sense on so many levels.

The Diamondbacks have always prided themselves on being a franchise made up of players of good character. From the moment the team was awarded in 1995 management has publicly stated that they wanted players who were not just good athletes but good people concerned about the community and the fans.

Manager Buck Showalter put together a comprehensive manual outlining the types of behavior and conduct the Diamondbacks players should adhere to. And while he is no longer the manager, much of the code of conduct philosophy has remained.

Why then would Arizona choose to throw all of that goodwill out the window by bringing in someone such as Milton Bradley? He has in the past shown a propensity to polarize the fans and teammates. Whenever anything did not go his way he would play the race card and blame others. Accountability is not one of Bradley’s strong personality traits.

Looking over the Diamondbacks roster, you are left confused why the team would consider bringing in an outfielder. There is already a log jam with six outfielders vying for four spots so adding a seventh player to the mix makes no sense.

The only logical explanation is that the Diamondbacks were considering trading under-achieving outfielder Eric Byrnes to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Milton Bradley. This way they could eliminate Byrnes $11 million salary for 2010.

Of course they would be taking on an equally burdensome contract with Bradley who is owed approximately $21 million over two years. It would be assumed that the Cubs would be willing to eat part of that contract just to rid themselves of Bradley’s antics.

This deal does little to make the Diamondbacks better. General Manager Josh Byrnes has suggested his outfield for 2010 would be comprised of Conor Jackson, Chris Young, and Justin Upton with Gerardo Parra coming off the bench. It is doubtful that Milton Bradley would be content being the fourth or fifth outfielder in Arizona.

Perhaps Arizona believes they would be able to move Bradley but given his antics with other teams that would seem to be a huge risk. The Diamondbacks have enough issues to deal with this off-season without adding trying to move Milton Bradley to another team.

Hopefully the Diamondbacks reconsider and maintain their stance that character counts. Let someone else take on the reclamation project that is Milton Bradley. I have to believe that most Diamondbacks players and fans would rather suffer through another season of a struggling Eric Byrnes than having to endure even one game of Milton Bradley in an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform.

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