The Major League Baseball general managers are generally meeting through tomorrow at the lovely O’Hare Hilton (Hey, I have a view of the United lost luggage counter from my room!). Cubs GM Jim Hendry is there to try to unload his batshit crazy right fielder–whom he gave a batshit crazy contract to. Now that seems impossible, right?
Why would anybody want to take on the world-class headcase that is Milton Bradley, especially with $21 million left, and two years, on his contract?
You would expect that Hendry is Typhoid Mary, or at least H1N1 Helga, at the meetings.
Did you see the rack on our waitr….shit, here comes Hendry, hide!
But he’s not. Other general managers are more than willing to talk to him about Bradley.
How could this be? Milton’s a complete turd. He is disruptive to a team. Even among selfish athletes he sticks out like a sore knee, or back or toe or whatever the hell is bothering him that day.
Why would anybody want to take that on?
Because there are a whole lot of other other general managers who have contracts as bad, or worse, than Milton’s, and right now he doesn’t look that bad to them.
Let’s run down the teams that might have a player or two that are such a burden on their payroll that suddenly two years of Milton and his theatrics don’t seem that bad.
Anaheim – Remember when Gary Matthews Jr. had that one good year in Texas? (2006, 19 HR, 79 RBI, .313 BA, .371 OBA, .866 OPS) He signed a huge, five year, $55 million deal with Anaheim. Then one of his HGH shipments got snagged by the feds, and yeah, he’s bad again.
Gee Man Joo has two years and $22 million left. Would you rather have him than Milton?
He’s been upset with his role (sitting on the bench a lot–because he sucks) in Anaheim, and he’s complained a little, but he doesn’t seem like a bad guy. But he’s also not a very good baseball player.
And, you have to figure that Mike Scioscia would want no part of Milton.
Toronto – The Cubs get a lot of crap, and most of it is deserving, for Alfonso Soriano’s contract. But have you seen Vernon Wells’? Here’s a guy who has had two really good and one pretty good season in 11 years in the big leagues and he must have the best agent in the universe.
He is owed $98 million between now and 2014. Ninety-eight! Those are yearly salaries of $12.5, $23, $21, $21 and $21. But hey, he did hit .260 with a .311 on base average last year. So, awesome?
If I were Hendry I’d call the new GM of the Blue Jays just to wait for him to offer a Wells-Bradley deal so for one time all week Hendry can laugh at somebody else.
Diamondbacks – Eric Byrnes sucks. He’s always sucked. But the Diamondbacks gave him $30 million two years ago. He’s still owed one year and $11 million. Maybe they’d rather have two years of Milton? Yeah, they probably don’t.
Cleveland – Remember when Travis Hafner was good? Not his brother Lance who made those strangely addictive sports simulation video games back in the day, but Travis. You remember him. Pronk! He’s owed $11.5 million this coming year, $13 million in 2011 and 2012 and has a club option for $13 million more in 2013. It’s obvious nobody wants him, because the Indians have dumped Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia the last two years, but not Travis. If the NL was implementing the DH rule, I’d think about it. For like nine seconds, then say no.
Cincinnati – The biggest way for a small or medium sized market to screw up their payroll is to pay a closer huge amounts of money. You know, like the Reds are doing with Francisco Cordero. Co-co (I hate that nickname) is owed $24 million the next two years with another $12 million option year in 2012 that can be bought out for a million bucks. Of course, they’re also wasting $3 million each year on Dusty Baker. I guess they just enjoy being bad, and spending lots of money to do it.
And, thanks to the careful handling by Dusty, they have a starting pitcher who is now useless to them, or anybody else, owed $12.5 in 2010 with a $12.75 club option in 2011. Don’t worry, Aaron Harang, they won’t be picking up that option.
The problem with trying to make a Bradley-Cordero trade appealing to the Reds is that it only saves them $3 million. And they get an old, injury prone outfielder to add to their young, injury prone outfielders. Walt Jocketty’s not dumb enough to do this. Hell, he wouldn’t have been dumb enough to sign Cordero in the first place, that was Wayne Krivsky. But maybe Dusty can dazzle him with tales of how great Milton would play for him? If nothing else, they can sit around and trade made up stories about how racist all of us are.
Boston – JD Drew is owed $28 million over the next two years. He’s just as injury prone as Milton, but no one has heard him speak for nine years. I have a hunch that the Red Sox like it that way.
Colorado – They don’t have anything that matches up here, but I wanted to share Todd Helton’s contract details with you. In 2010 he’s owed $16.5 million, $19.1 in 2011 and a $23 million club option in 2012 that the Rockies can buy out for $4.6 million. Holy crap.
Kansas City – They have a batshit crazy rightfielder, too. But they only owe Jose Guillen $10 million and one year.
White Sox – I would pay Milton’s contract to see him play for Ozzie Guillen. Or something like that.
Remember how the Sox were going to have all this money to spend this offseason because they were going to be rid of Jim Thome’s contract and Jermaine Dye’s and Jose Contreras’, etc.? They really only owe two guys big money now. One more year of Paul Konerko at $12 million and two years at $28 million for Mark Buehrle. Right?
Oh, but wait. They traded for Jake Peavy and got stuck with Alex Rios’ deals.
Check these out.
Peavy is owed $15M in 2010, $16M in 2011, $17M in 2012 and $23M in 2013 (with a $4M buyout). At least he has a chance of being worth some of that money.
Here’s Rios’s deal. Next year he’ll make (I almost wrote “earn” there) $9.7M, $12M in 2011, $12M in 2012, $12.5M in 2013, $12.5M in 2013 and he has a $13.5M option in 2014 with a million dollar buyout.
And when Kenny tells you they didn’t get “stuck” with that contract when the Blue Jays said, “Take him!” he’s lying to you.
Just remember that the next time Steve Stone tweets about just how recklessly Hendry was spending money. He wasn’t alone, apparently.
So that’s nine teams without a realistic landing spot for Bradley yet. But I think there are three places where the Cubs could actually move him. Whether they want to or not is up to them.
Dodgers – The already cash strapped Dodgers (the McCords were hanging on by a thread before the divorce) just got the great news that Manny Ramirez wants the $20 million he had in an option for next season. They have to be looking to get out from at least one of a pair of contracts they signed with an ex-Cub and a guy who has seemed destined to be an ex-Cub for a long time now.
I’m sure you’ve been yearning for the return of Juan for four Pierre to center field. He could be yours for the low-low price of $18.5 million between 2010 and 2011.
Awesome? The Cubs would have to eat some of Bradley’s deal. But the biggest problem here is that getting Bradley out of town was the very first priority of former Cubs PR wonk Ned Colletti when he became GM. He made a great trade, too. He dumped Milton on the A’s for Andre Ethier.
But what if Ned could also rid himself of the $20.5 (plus a $12 million option) he owes the guy who had a deal worked out with the Cubs, only to balk at their insistence on including a clause that would let them out of the deal if he got another DUI?
Would Ned trade Juan Pierre and Rafael Furcal to the Cubs for Milton? He’s save almost $18 million. Money he might very well need with some of his better young players reaching arbitration age. Hell, he pays Joe Torre all kinds of money, let Joe deal with Milton. (This was the same idea the Cubs had with Lou, and look how well that worked.) Hey, maybe Milton will convince Joe to retire after this season and Ned can hire Don Mattingly on the cheap and save even more money? Or, maybe Jamie McCourt will get Milton in the divorce settlement!
Nah…it’s not going to happen is it?
Giants – The trade that seems to make the most sense is just trading Milton to the Giants for Aaron Rowand. Rowand’s contract is awful for a guy of his middling talents ($36 million over the next three years), but he’s not an asshole, and maybe he’d run into the bricks and kill himself and insurance could pick up the remainder of his deal?
The amazing thing is that the five year, $60 million deal Brian Sabean gave Rowand isn’t even close to the worst one on his roster. We all know the Barry Zito contract is horrible, right? I mean he’s devolved into a guy they don’t even get five innings out of most starts. Check this out. He’s owed $18.5 million this year, $18.5 in 2011, $19 in 2012, $20 in 2013, $18 in 2014 (or a $7 buyout.) Yikes.
I think Milton’s inevitable destination is one that couldn’t be a worse place for him, but he deserves it. New York.
New York Mets – Ken Rosenthal had the three way trade rumor of Milton to Toronto, Lyle Overbay to the Mets and Luis Castillo the Cubs. That’s not going to happen. But it wouldn’t surprise me if later on this offseason, especially if the Mets deem Matt Holliday and Jason Bay too expensive, if the trade isn’t Milton to the Mets for Castillo with some cash to even out the salaries. The Mets want to sign Orlando Hudson to play second and are committed to Castillo for $12 million combined in 2010 and 2011.
The Mets would put Milton in left and have Hudson at second and basically not add a dollar to their payroll.
How much does it help the Cubs? A little. Not much. Castillo’s entire game is based on speed and he doesn’t have elite speed any more. He did put up a .387 on base average last year which was his best since 2005. He stole 20 bases in 26 tries. But he’s gone from an above average defensive second baseman to one that is average, or worse. Trading for him would leave Ryan Theriot at short for another year, at least. But I don’t think the Cubs are serious about moving him to second anyway. Our hope is that whoever is managing and general managing this team in 2011 sees that Theriot is not a shortstop and doesn’t move him to second, they move him another team who has not yet come to that realization. If such a team exists.
A lot was made at the end of last season when Milton was complaining about bad knees that the Cubs should have put him on the DL instead of suspending him for being a dick, because his contract stated that if he finished the 2009 season on the DL with an injury to his surgically repaired knee that the Cubs could void the third year of his deal, even if had already vested. Trying to trade one year and $9 million of Milton this offseason would have been a much less heroic task.
However, that same clause in that contract made it valid only if he was still on the DL with the same injury to start the 2010 season. So the odds of it ever being triggered were very slight. It’s too bad that he had to pick the worst possible season (performance and contract implication-wise) to be mostly healthy. Ahh, the luck of the Cubs. Who can fight it?
It does seem apparent that the Cubs will trade Milton. But you can see that the results probably won’t be pretty.
When the most appealing choices might involve two years of Juan Pierre back in center, or three years of Aaron Rowand there, or even two years of Luis Castillo hobbling near second…you can see that Hendry has created a huge mess for himself.