After three months of trying, the Chicago Cubs were finally able to complete the trade of Milton Bradley. Yesterday, General Manager Jim Hendry sent the troubled outfield to the Seattle Mariners for struggling starting pitcher Carlos Silva, who also sent $9 million to the Cubs. With one of the most hated players in Cub history finally being extracted from the team, you would imagine that today would be a day that was filled with nothing but celebrations from Cub fans. However, you would be wrong. There is a large percentage of Cub Nation that is enraged that in getting rid of Bradley, the Cubs brought back Silva. While I can understand both sides of the argument, the level that this has reached is very surprising, considering how much Bradley was hated.
Since the day that Bradley was signed, Cub fans were angry at Hendry for wasting money on a player who has been in more trouble than the rest of the ball club combined. Most Cub fans knew that this experiment with Bradley would end in a very ugly way, and he would not see the end of the three year deal in a Cubs uniform. They were right with their prediction, as thing started bad, and got far worse as the year went on. As Cub fans everywhere know, things got so bad, Bradley was suspended for the last 15 games of the season. This final act, most likely made the upcoming trade of Bradley all the more difficult.
From the moment everyone knew that a trade of Bradley was going to happen, there were several assumptions that were made. Everyone was sure, that there would be two things certain to happen. The first was the Cubs would have to eat a majority of his contract in order to get the other clubs interested. Secondly, the Cubs would have to take on another bad contract which likely came with another bad player. For the most part, I believed Cubs fans knew this was the case. I thought Cub fans understood this was how things would have to turn out. I thought this was accepted to be what was coming. However, something funny happened yesterday. When the plan was carried out, things did not go according to plan. Those two certainties which most of Cubs Nation believed had to happen to make a deal work, did not need to be done. At least not both of them.
When rumors started flying that the Cubs would send Bradley to the Mariners for Silva, things appeared to be going exactly as thought. The Cubs would be getting back another bad player with a bad contract, while taking on additional money. With Silva making $4 million more, fans had little reason to be upset. Everything was playing out as expected, but with the Cubs paying less than initially thought. Then, however, things took an unexpected turn. The Mariners picked up some of the tab, sending $9 million with Silva to Chicago, meaning the Cubs gained an additional $5 million cushion to add to their limited payroll. One would have thought that this added bonus to getting rid of Bradley would have made the Cub fans day. However, that’s not exactly the case. There are a large amount of fans who are still not happy, and would have rather Hendry and the Cubs would have just cut Bradley outright instead of making this trade.
What is trouble most Cub fans about this trade, is that they got Silva back in return for Bradley, and the numbers don’t match up. No, not the dollar amount, but the production numbers. They look at Bradley and see what he is capable of doing on the offensive side of the ball, instead of what he did for us in 2009. At the same time, they look at Silva’s statistics and see what he has done the past two years, instead of looking at his overall career and seeing what he can do. I say, if you look at potential for one player, you should also do so for the other. Both players have had success at one point in their careers, and have also had disastrous seasons as well.
Looking at Silva’s eight year career, he has had a mixture of success and failure. He has had amazing seasons, as well as those that would make you curl up into a ball and cry. The 2006, as well as the 2008 and 2009 seasons send shivers into Cub fans as they think of the disaster that is to come, now that he is one of their players. They fail to look at the remainder of his career to see that he is also very capable of having great success as well. The rest of his career he has put up solid numbers, especially when you consider he spent most of his career in the American League, which is the more offensive league. His overall career numbers aren’t great, but they aren’t all too bad when you take into account his previous two years have been pitching for a bad team in a hitters ballpark. He also has suffered through an arm injury during the 2009 season and has been rehabbing since. His over all ERA is an unappealing 4.72 and he has a WHIP (walk plus hits by innings pitched) of 1.41, which means he gives up about one and a half this and walks combined every inning. Not bad, but not that great. His batting average against is hovering around the .300 mark. Again, not great, but not bad either. He has had success early in his career while pitching out of the bullpen for the Philadelphia Phillies, and had a great season in 2005. He is capable of pitching well, and only time will tell if the switch back to the National League and a healthy year will allow him to return to pitching the way he is capable of doing.
When you look at Bradley, we all see the potential in having someone like him in your lineup. The numbers that he put up in 2008 are something to make teams drool, and are what led Hendry into his signing last year. Over his career, like with Silva, he has had a mixture of success and disappointment. Fans look at what he is capable of and stars shine in their eyes, and sometimes they forget about the headache he brings with him, as well as the less than desired games he plays due to various nagging injuries. However, the potential is always there. Fans know what he is capable of doing, and they covet a player who can contribute the way they all know he can. Bradley would be any team’s dream player if controversy didn’t follow him everywhere he went. The attitude that comes with him always has been, and always will be a big deterrent when teams are looking for an outfielder to add to their mix. Sometimes you may very well strike gold, like the Texas Rangers did in 2008. He has had success in limited playing time elsewhere as well, all seasons where his playing time fell short of what was desired due to injury. The talent is there though, you can see everything he is capable of doing. His potential is why there are a vast majority of Cub fans who are disappointed in this trade.
There is an old saying, be careful what you wish for because you may just get what you want. To those who are still happy that Bradley is gone, Merry Christmas. You wish has been granted. The Bradley Era has ended for the Cubs, and the Silva Era has just begun. For those who wanted him gone, and are now unhappy with how things turned out, what else did you expect? Were you hoping for a miracle trade in which the Cubs got a great player in return for Bradley? Even if they ate every cent of his contract, the chances of that happening were very slim and very unlikely. You knew we would either get a bad contract back or have to just cut him, which would limit us for the following two years. Look at the Brightside. The Cubs needed a starting pitcher to replace Rich Harden and to fill in for Ted Lilly. The thoughts of Jeff Samardzija taking over the open vacancy did not sit well with fans, so now they have another option.
In the end, the Cubs got rid of a player that not many wanted to remain, and they saved money in the process. How many of you honestly thought this would be the outcome when everything played out? The Cubs have extra money that can be used to signing players that are needed, such as Marlon Byrd or Matt Capps. The off season is half way done, and now they are able to start working on other needs. There hasn’t been many big free agent signings, other than Mike Cameron and Hideki Matsui. Unlike in 2005 when the Cubs tried to trade Sammy Sosa, they still have time to make things happen. Whether you like this trade or not, the time to move forward has come. Look towards the future, and prepare for the 2010 season.