During this past offseason, I wrote an article suggesting that the Padres bring back Milton Bradley. I didn’t need much more evidence than his performance over the 2007-08 seasons. Unfortunately, before I could hit the Publish button, Bradley was off the market, signing a three-year deal with the Cubs.
I, of course, bring it up because he’s back on the market and the Padres have been brought up as a team of interest by both Buster Olney and John Heyman. While such rumors need to be taken with grains of salt, it does raise the question:
Do we want Milton Bradley back?
The first thing we need to address is that corner outfield is not a hole on this team. With Headley, Blanks, and Venable, the team would seem to be set. Where they’re not set is centerfield. While Gwynn, Jr. has been dependable in the field, his hitting leaves a lot to be desired, which would seem to explain Venable starting game after game out there. Unfortunately, while he’s been hitting, Venable has not shown the range you want out of the position (-17.6 UZR/150 in limited time).
The second thing we need to address is Milton Being Milton. Before insulting his way out of Chicago, he went after an announcer in Texas and prompted a season ending Rock Bottom from Bud Black here. It’s not a question of if something will happen but when, and how bad. But while we can only hypothesize about what happens behind closed doors, Ron Washington has said that he would welcome Bradley back to Texas and the Padres offered Bradley a contract following his injury shortened 2007 season, both suggesting that Bradley left these bridges intact.
Then there are the leftover concerns, such his injury history and the two year commitment the team would have to take on. But here’s how I see it:
The Padres do not need Milton Bradley for 2010.
As I said, there’s really nowhere to put him. Assuming that Headley moves either to third base or to another team, that leaves left field for Blanks and right field for Venable, and Bradley can’t play center. But Venable hasn’t shown that he can either, but that hasn’t stopped the team from running him out there everyday. Now, ideally, this offseason sees the Padres trading for a center fielder in the tradition of Mark Kotsay or Mike Cameron. But if the team thinks Venable is their man and the team is without a right fielder, Bradley could work. He would need regular time off, and regular coddling, but he has shown that he is unintimidated by Petco Park, and he could do some damage hitting in front of Adrian.
(This all assumes that the Cubs eat most of the contract and accept a marginal prospect in return.)
“I haven’t had any calls from Jim about him,” Towers told ESPN.com. “But I think people kind of know what players we target. We have to take chances sometimes. We took a chance on Milton the first time we had him, and he actually played pretty well [before the injury].
“We could be in the market for an outfielder. I’m not saying it’s necessarily Milton. But our experience with him was rather a positive one. It wasn’t really a negative one.”