Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the long-rumored deal of Pat Burrell for Milton Bradley is “still a strong possibility.” The sticking point appears to still be how much of Bradley’s contract the Cubs are willing to swallow.
Both Burrell and Bradley make $9 million next season. That is the final year of the deal for Burrell while Bradley is set to make $12 million in 2011. The hold up is likely how much the Rays would be responsible for the 2011 salary.
There have been several reports that the Rays will only do this deal on their terms. The Cubs on the other hand may be trying to be creative without meeting the Rays price. So while the two sides may be “close,” they may not actually be that close.
Of course, the big debate among Raysheads is whether the Rays should make this deal. Most seem to agree that Bradley represents a significant upgrade over Burrell on the field. The disagreement seems to lie in how much of a distraction and detriment Bradley’s well-documented temper-tantrums will be.
Make no mistake…There is much more to this trade than just Bradley’s bat and attitude. Let’s break it down…
- Bradley is 18 months younger.
- Bradley has the better bat. In 2007 and 2008 Bradley posted OPS seasons of .947 and .999. Burrell’s best single season OPS was .920. Back in 2002. And Bradley can get on base. He has had 3 seasons with an OBP greater than .400. Burrell has done that once.
- Bradley can play the field if necessary.
- Bradley is a switch-hitter.
- Bradley might miss some games, but he will still out-produce Burrell even if he plays 30-40 fewer games.
- Burrell is not well-liked in the clubhouse either and had a much-publicized run-in with Carl Crawford last season.
- Bradley’s attitude problems are overrated. He seems to do fine in smaller markets. Joe Maddon is the perfect manager to keep him happy and in-check. And even if his attitude problem is a problem, there is still a net gain between the upgrade in production as compared to any cost to the team as a result of his attitude.
- Did you see Burrell play last year? That dude sucks.
- Much of Burrell’s problems in 2009 can be attributed to nagging injuries.
- He is only 33 years old and there is no reason to think that his career would just fall off the cliff that quickly.
- While Bradley was great in 2007 and 2008, his 2009 was not so great. He lost much of his power last year. His OPS went from .999 in 2008 to .775, due in large part to a 170 point drop in SLG. His corresponding Isolated Power (ISO) went from .242 to .140 without a significant dropoff in flyball rate. In fact, his home runs per flyball were way off from 21.2% with Texas to 12.2% with the Cubs. That number was 18.3% in 2007 in pitcher-friendly parks in Oakland and San Diego.
- Playing the outfield is not necessary as the Rays need a DH. However, if it does become necessary (inter-league games, playoffs, injuries) Burrell’s shortcomings in the outfield are not much worse than Bradley. Bradley played 109 games in the outfield last season and posted a -4.1 UZR. In 2008, Burrell played 155 games in the outfield with a -4.3 UZR.
- Bradley is injury-prone. He has played 110 games three times in 10 seasons. Even in 2008 when he was primarily a DH for the Rangers, he missed 36 games. And keep in mind how cautious the Rays are with injuries. When was the last time a stint on the 15-day DL lasted only 15 days? Missing 30 games with other teams would probably translate to 45 days on the DL with the Rays.
- And while Bradley may give the Rays a better chance to win in 120 games he plays. His time on the DL puts the Rays in a big hole in the 40 games he will miss. Not only will an inferior player take his spot in the lineup, but there is also the cost of shuffling the roster and adding another player to the payroll.
- 2009 should be an embarrassment to Burrell and he should be motivated to come back in better shape and ready to prove that last season was a fluke.
- Burrell is a free agent at the end of the season and will be motivated to play for his next contract.
- Keeping Burrell means the Rays are not on the hook for any money in 2010 that can be spent elsewhere on the roster.
- Have you seen Bradley play? That dude is batshit crazy.
Our stance all along has been that Bradley WILL do something to annoy his teammates and piss off the fans. If you are cool with that, then fine. But once you get past the tantrums, there are other reasons to be concerned. Is he still a better option than Burrell? Maybe. But we don’t think it is as clear-cut as some want you to believe.