Sunday, July 26, 2009

The case for keeping Milton Bradley

There was a rumor in the last few days--now shot down by just about everybody--that the Detroit Tigers were looking to acquire free agent disappointment Milton Bradley from the Cubs. I think most people have viewed Bradley as basically untradeable at this point unless the Cubs are looking for nothing better than a set of steak knives. Heck, that's what I thought.

In any case, there won't be a trade, apparently, and after seeing Bradley sometimes succeeding/still essentially struggling in the last several games, I'm starting to like the idea of keeping him. Why? Three little letters: OBP.

Bradley's on-base percentage going into Sunday's game was .377, the second-best of any player on the current roster (second to Aramis Ramirez). With 44 walks, Bradley has only six fewer walks than team leader Kosuke Fukudome. I think that, used pretty strategically, which Lou Piniella has begun to do by limiting Bradley's left-handed at-bats against righty pitchers, Bradley could be a very valuable contributor down the line even if he continues to hits around .250 (at .246 now)--as long as he keeps the BBs coming and keeps that OBP at a healthy level.

Bradley's current .131 spread between his batting average and OBP is a remarkable stat. Without Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, among others, hitting well, it may not amount to much, and when Bradley was slumping along with Lee and A-Ram was out with his shoulder injury, Bradley's few walks and a whole lot of nothing otherwise wasn't acceptable.

But, now, it's another cog, an important one, in the run-scoring machine that the Cubs finally having running smoothly. And, if Bradley starts to hit a little more--let's just say the Cubs visit to first place today, could be a long-term visit.

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