Yes, it has been a while. I would say that I was staging a silent protest until the Cubs unloaded Milton Bradley, but that isn't the truth. Both of our teams have made some minor deals in recent weeks, though nothing that was close to what they needed to do.
Before the Cubs traded Bradley a few days ago to Seattle for over-ripe pitcher Carlos Silva, I had come to terms with the Cubs keeping Bradley for next season. As many of us--but apparently not Cubs GM Jim Hendry--realized when Hendry suspended Bradley near the end of the season, unloading Bradley during the off-season was going to be tougher than previously thought (and it was already going to be tough).
The only potential trade before the Silva deal was the possible exchange of Bradley for power-hitting Tampa outfielder Pat Burrell. That would not have been a great deal, as Burrell had a horrible 2009 in Tampa after two previously strong years with Philadelphia, but Burrell has at times shown plate patience and the type of HR-RBI potency that could be rediscovered in Wrigley Field. The problem was the Cubs would have had to throw in money. Amazingly, they actually got money in the Silva deal that they could apply to a free agent signing elsewhere, but as a pure baseball move, the Silva trade stinks. But, the Cubs really only wanted the money anyway.
Once promising, but now looking over-the-hill and with injury problems in his recent past, it's hard to imagine Silva paying off. Meanwhile, had the Cubs kept Bradley, at least they know his minimum contribution still involves a very good on-base percentage. Though I called for Bradley to be dumped last season, I thought the Cubs could get a decent prospect from a desperate team in play-off contention. Instead, they went about this all wrong, keeping him through the second half of last season and then basically labeling him as damaged goods by suspending him right before the end of the season. Then, they couldn't do much during the off-season until they got rid of him. That they actually got money in this deal could help them now sign one or two other players, but who's left? Oh, right, Marlon Byrd. Not Chone Figgins, Curtis Granderson or even Mike Cameron. Well, maybe Rudy Jaramillo, new Cubs hitting coach/former Texas hitting tutor of Byrd's, can get another career year out of him.
Interestingly, proven winner Johnny Damon is suddenly available as a nice solution for centerfield, but don't expect the Cubs to go after him. Another high-priced signing of an old free agent could be enough to sink Hendry--even if this one sounds much more attractive than the Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome or Alfonso Soriano signing.
I'll be back soon to size up all of the Cubs and White Sox off-season moves so far...
Brad Ausmus worked out as well as Robin Ventura
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