FanPost

Is Gameboard, In One Respect, A Victim?

 

As most of you know, I was not in favor of the Milton Bradley signing.  I am a big believer in clubhouse chemistry and didn't like the fit or Gameboard's lengthy injury history.  I'm also not a fan of people who suffer from "Victim's Syndrome".  Nonetheless, Milton Bradley is wearing Cubbie Pinstripes and claiming that he is the victim of unfair expectations, so I decided to investigate the possibility that he is truly a victim, at least in respect to his time with the Cubs.

 

First, I've made a few assumptions for the purposes of this exercise:

 

Assumption #1

Milton Bradley is a very high character individual.  He is universally loved by teammates and umpires alike, has never received so much as a speeding ticket from the police, and devotes many hours to charitable endeavors.  Ernie Banks is in awe of Bradley's character.

 

Assumption #2

Bradley is a very healthy individual.  He has no chronic injury issues and has never been on the DL.

 

Assumption #3

Bradley is a gold-glove caliber CF.

 

Assumption #4

Bradley's contract is very modest for a player of his stature.  He is, if anything, underpaid.

 

 

Background

The Cubs have spent the past several years searching for a LH power hitter to protect Aramis Ramirez in the lineup.  Since their 1B and LF are RHBs and very few MIs or CFs are power hitters, the logical place to play such a player is RF.  Their current RF, Kosuke Fukudome has proven to be more adept as a table-setter than as a #5 hitter.  Jim Hendry has decided that he must sign a FA as the asking price for LHB RFs on the trade market was too high.

 

 

The Candidates

I have attempted to make a list of people I thought were available last off-season either as FAs or on the trade market -- except that I included Z just for fun.  All of the candidates are LHBs or SBs.  I am ignoring the fact that some might have demanded too much money or had NTCs or might have required more prospects in return than the Cubs had.  All (except Furcal, Z, and maybe Winn) would normally be thought of as middle-of-the-order run producers.

 

Measuring the quality of a run producer is a highly debated topic.  Old school folks favor RBIs; SABRmetricians favor almost anything but RBIs.  Having some power is important, though, since one of the objectives is to force teams to pitch to Ramy.  Also, I am a believer that some players have a knack for driving in runs that others do not.  Not being a stat geek, I decided to look at three things:  AB/RBI, AB/HR, and AB/XBH.  (Note that these are career numbers for all players.)

 

Player.................AB/RBI..................AB/HR...................AB/XBH

Helton..................5.402......................19.88.......................7.434

Dunn....................5.650......................13.80.......................7.870

Ibanez..................5.936......................24.79........................9.439

Abreu...................5.941......................27.43........................8.862

G. Anderson........6.242.....................29.53......................10.094

Kubel...................6.266.....................24.67.........................9.774

JD Drew...............6.337.....................20.79........................8.874

Gameboard.........7.364......................28.04.....................10.244

Hermida..............8.052......................29.67......................11.052

Teahen................8.392......................42.11......................10.714

Winn....................9.345.....................55.72......................11.358

Z...........................9.945.....................27.35......................12.156

Furcal................11.282......................57.55......................13.066

 

 

In terms of AB/RBI, Bradley is 8th best out of 13.  He's also 8th out of 13 in AB/HR, though it must be a bit embarrassing to be worse than a pitcher.  He's also 8th of 13 in AB/XBH.  (Though I'm not including the numbers, he is also 8th in SLG.)  In other words, when being compared to the other candidates for the position of "Ramy's Bodyguard", he is in the bottom half.  Does this mean that Milton Bradley is a bad baseball player?  Absolutely not, because Milton Bradley is very good at not making outs.  I'm not including the numbers, but Bradley's .372 OBP is 5th best behind Helton, Abreu, Drew, and Dunn.  Milton Bradley is very good at reaching base; he's just not quite as skilled at bringing other players home.  He is a very useful player as long as no one expects him to be Ramy's Bodyguard.

 

Most teams expect to get their power from their "corner guys" (LF, RF, 1B, 3B), and have their "middle guys" (CF, 2B, SS) do the job as table-setters.  In the Cubs' case, their LF, 1B, and 3B do supply plenty of power when healthy; the only problem is that they are all RHBs.  Their CF and SS have done a good job of setting the table; 2B has been a vortex of suck this year.

 

So...

 

Is it possible that Milton Bradley is actually, at least in one respect, a victim?

 

I say "yes".  Milton Bradley is the victim of Jim Hendry's atrocious ML scouting department.  Let's look at Hendry's attempts to fill in the black hole that has been RF post-Sammy.

 

2005  Jeromy Burnitz, age 36

2006  Jacque Jones (more of a speedy CF than a power-hitting RF)

2007  Cliff Floyd (ideal candidate except that his body was completely broken down)

2008  Kosuke Fukudome (more of a table-setter)

2009  Milton Bradley (more of a table-setter)

 

That isn't a very pretty list, and it speaks volumes about Hendry's inability to be objective when trying to improve his team.  (See Heilman, Aaron for further details.)

 

Now, let's return to assumptions 2 and 3.  Milton Bradley is not healthy, and has not been healthy for several years.  In fact, he suffers from chronic issues with both knees and both hamstrings.  As a result, he is no longer the fine CF he was when he first came up.  He now has a CF bat and a RF glove.  That's not his fault; he is what he is, and his injury history is very well known.  It is certainly something that Jim Hendry should have known, especially since he claims that he did a lot of homework before signing Gameboard.  In that respect, Milton Bradley is indeed a victim.

 

Jim Hendry, I'm waiting for an answer.....

 

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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