It’s time to move forward … without Milton Bradley
There’s no big secret as to why Milton Bradley no longer is with the Mariners today. Bradley simply wasn’t playing well enough to justify dealing with the other problems that come along with one of the game’s more difficult personalities.
I’m not going to claim to have any great insights on the man. I did take the above photo the day he arrived at Mariners training camp this spring. He immediately growled at me to stop taking his picture, which is just the way things were with Bradley. Along with other writers and photographers, I took photos of most all the Mariners in all kinds of situations on the practice field and Bradley was the only one who said a word to me all spring about it.
As things progressed, he made it clear he didn’t much want to deal with reporters this season and that was fine. I’d talked with him enough the previous year to understand him to be an intelligent, well-spoken man when he wanted to share his thoughts and I’m not sure where his increased anger stemmed from this year, but that’s just the way it was.
A lot of people walked on egg shells around Bradley. There weren’t a lot of outlandish problems with him this season and largely he was given a wide berth by those who understood he was dealing with issues that go beyond baseball.
But when onfield problems began creeping up — two ejections in a week’s span and a one-game suspension by MLB — topped by lack of production offensively and ongoing defensive struggles, well, at some point if you’re the Mariners you just look at the options and figure it’s time to cut bait.
Bradley’s errant throw in Sunday’s game cost the Mariners two runs — and a likely victory — in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the White Sox. His lack of mobility or desire, depending on your viewpoint, drew loud boos throughout the weekend in the field for a franchise struggling to regain its fanbase. And worst of all, for a guy being asked to shoulder a large load as a veteran No. 3 hitter in Eric Wedge’s lineup, he simply wasn’t producing enough there to offset the rest of the problems.
When Jack Zduriencik traded for Bradley, he did so with the hope that he was at least acquiring a professional hitter in exchange for another bad contract in pitcher Carlos Silva. If Bradley provided his normal high on-base percentage players and a little pop, his character issues might be overlooked.
But the guy who had on-base percentage of .414 in ’07, .436 in ’08 and .378 in ’09 never materialized in Seattle. His OBP with the Mariners over two seasons stood at .298. His batting average was .209. He totaled 10 home runs.
Coupled with his defensive deficiencies and personal demons, there’s no surprise here. Wedge was desperate enough for a veteran No. 3 hitter that he gave Bradley a legitimate shot despite their prior history. It just wasn’t working well enough to be worth the troubles that come along with the package and Monday brought the inevitable.
So we move forward. I know I’m interested to see how Mike Wilson and Carlos Peguero fare in left field. The Mariners have been searching for a left fielder for years and somebody, some day, is going to grab that job and make it theirs. Both Wilson and Peguero offer power potential the team is crying out for, though I have concerns about Peguero’s high strikeout potential on a team that already struggles in that department.
But there is hope with youth. And desire. And the willingness to buy into the team Wedge wants. It’s good to see this move coming now. The Mariners are 16-19, they’ve put themselves at least into contention in the AL West. But they aren’t going to just ride things out and see the same problems over and over.
So Monday’s moves bring a new look to left field. And we’ll go from here.
I’m skipping the Baltimore series and joining the team in Cleveland on this road trip, but it’ll be interesting to hear how Wedge plans to use Wilson. Zduriencik mentioned a right-left platoon situation with Wilson and Peguero in left field for the time being. But five of the next starting pitchers the Mariners face are right-handed, so that doesn’t open much playing time for Wilson.
Jeff Seidel will be filling in for me on Mariners.com from Baltimore, so keep an eye on the website for updates on that and everything else and I’ll head to Cleveland in a couple days to pick things back up as Wedge returns to his old stomping grounds, this time without Milton Bradley.