BY John Hickey 03:01PM 05/09/2011

Hickey: Bradley was Zduriencik’s albatross

The Mariners finally came to the conclusion Monday that Milton Bradley wasn’t going to be part of their future. It was about time.

Milton Bradley isn't part of the Mariner future, so he's not part of the Mariners present, either. / Getty Images

For every general manager, there is going to be a “worst trade.”

The Mariners’ Jack Zduriencik can only hope that Milton Bradley is his.

Zduriencik sent disgruntled, unproductive and expensive pitcher Carlos Silva to the Chicago Cubs two years ago for the disgruntled, unproductive and even more expensive Bradley, hoping the outfielder would bring some offense to the northwest.

He didn’t. Bradley did bring plenty of baggage, however. Monday the Mariners decided they didn’t need the extra cargo anymore.

It was a good call, if belated. Bradley had a way of taking the oxygen out of a room. His presence in the Mariners clubhouse was not helping teammates. He kept to himself for the most part, wore earplugs to keep out the sounds of fans booing and always seemed angry.

That anger expressed itself with ejections from two games and a one-game suspension in the last 10 days. The Mariners have won eight of their last 12 and are trying to show signs of life at 16-19 heading into Tuesday’s series opener in Baltimore. Bradley wasn’t helping the cause.

It was time to cut ties. Monday, the Mariners did that.

Zduriencik announced that the club designated Bradley for assignment list and recalling outfielder Carlos Peguero. Earlier in the day, reserve outfielder Ryan Langerhans, who hadn’t done anything wrong other than to be unproductive, also was designated for assignment – the club has 10 days to trade or release both men – and promoted outfielder Mike Wilson for the first time.

“We felt Milton was not part of our future and not part of our present,” Zduriencik said in a conference call. “Therefore, the move was made.”

Bradley is a troubled, tortured soul, or at least it seems that way since he’s a difficult man to get to know. Eight other teams have let him go despite the fact that when he’s on top of his game he’s quite a hitter. But as both the Cubs and the Mariners discovered, he has issues.

He essentially got himself booted off the Cubs’ roster in 2009 for getting in the face of management. Then last year, Bradley had it out with Seattle’s then-manager Don Wakamatsu, walking out of Safeco Field mid-game. A day later he was contrite and asked for help with what were described as anger-management issues.

He got help while off the roster on baseball’s restricted list, but once he returned he was essentially a non-factor and spent the final two months of the season on the disabled list with a knee injury.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge used Bradley as the Mariners’ No. 3 hitter for lack of another option this year, but even after two hits Sunday, Bradley’s average sat at .218 – it was only .159 over the course of the last three weeks – and after an early April surge, he wasn’t driving in any runs.

Beyond that, the counseling Bradley got does not have seemed to have helped noticeably. This winter he was arrested for allegedly making threats against his wife. Then twice in the last 10 days he got into arguments with umpires that resulted in ejections. Those, coupled with a monstrous lack of offense made Bradley useless to the Mariners, the money be damned.

Zduriencik wouldn’t say that the ejections were the tipping point, and in fact they may not have been. The Mariners are scoring three runs or less in 60 percent of their games, and if Bradley can’t elevate that number, it was time to bring in someone who might be able to. Wilson and Peguero both have good minor league power, although it’s unproven that either can hit productively at the big league level.

“I don’t think there’s any particular instance that gets you to this point,” Zduriencik said when asked if the ejections led to the move. “There can be, but not in this case. In this situation, we evaluated where we are and where we’re going, and in our estimation, he did not fit.”

That was the case with Silva two off-seasons ago. But rather than releasing Silva and eating his $8 million-per-year contract, Zduriencik took a gamble on Bradley at $12 million per season.

“That was a situation where we didn’t think Carlos would be part of the future,” Zduriencik said. “Obviously Milton wasn’t part of their future in Chicago. We were trading, in essence, contract for contract and hoping it worked for both clubs.”

It worked for neither. The Cubs released Silva earlier this year. And the trade was particularly bad for Zduriencik, because if he’d released Silva or buried him at the back end of the Seattle bullpen, he could have just pointed to previous general manager Bill Bavasi and said Silva was Bavasi’s guy and there wasn’t much to be done.

In the trade with the Cubs, however, Bradley became Zduriencik’s guy. Ultimately, Bradley became Zduriencik’s albatross.

The weight around Zduriencik’s neck is gone, except for the remainder of that $12 million.

The wait for the future of the Zduriencik’s Mariners, however, is over. There are more moves to be made, but Zduriencik is committed to moving forward, to getting younger and to see if any of the minor league talent translates well to the Major Leagues.

It couldn’t have happened sooner.

Follow John on Twitter at @JHickey3


YourThoughts

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/CUWKXBQCUV23AUSQ724NFTQXGE Matt

    I wouldn’t say ”
    Bradley became Zduriencik’s guy.”
    Zduriencik was trying to make something out of the nothing (but clubhouse discord) that Silva brought to the organization. It was a bit of a gamble, but taking a shot on Bradley when he was just a year removed from leading the AL with a .999 OPS was worth the gamble. If it had had payed off, it would have greatly improved the M’s offense. As it is, it didn’t work out, but I must say that I like such creative thinking from a GM.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/CUWKXBQCUV23AUSQ724NFTQXGE Matt

    I wouldn’t say ”
    Bradley became Zduriencik’s guy.”
    Zduriencik was trying to make something out of the nothing (but clubhouse discord) that Silva brought to the organization. It was a bit of a gamble, but taking a shot on Bradley when he was just a year removed from leading the AL with a .999 OPS was worth the gamble. If it had had payed off, it would have greatly improved the M’s offense. As it is, it didn’t work out, but I must say that I like such creative thinking from a GM.

  • riddleboy

    The Silva-Bradley swap was a crap shoot, or maybe a turkey shoot based on its outcome. The Cubs had the pleasure of Silva’s early season win streak in 2010 before canning him this season and the M’s got to witness the validation of eight MLB clubs’ opinions of Bradley.
    Did Z-man really think he was wiser than everyone else in baseball? Or did he think he could pull a rabbit from a truly empty hat? Or implant something in the vacuous hat holder atop Bradley’s neck? If so, he and Mike Holmgren should set up shop together.
    Fortunately, Bradley can be viewed in the rear view mirror. Now Z-man can get down to the business of building for the future. Whoops, forgot Figgins, Cust, Kennedy, Ja. Wilson and probably several other retreads.
    Another possibility is that Nintendo’s financial losses and current M’s attendance might force the reclusive Japanese owner to sell the club to a knowledgeable individual or group which would shred the Lincoln-Armstrong management script, thus giving Z-man the latitude to build real major league team in Seattle.
    Ah, hope springs eternal in the human breast.

  • riddleboy

    The Silva-Bradley swap was a crap shoot, or maybe a turkey shoot based on its outcome. The Cubs had the pleasure of Silva’s early season win streak in 2010 before canning him this season and the M’s got to witness the validation of eight MLB clubs’ opinions of Bradley.
    Did Z-man really think he was wiser than everyone else in baseball? Or did he think he could pull a rabbit from a truly empty hat? Or implant something in the vacuous hat holder atop Bradley’s neck? If so, he and Mike Holmgren should set up shop together.
    Fortunately, Bradley can be viewed in the rear view mirror. Now Z-man can get down to the business of building for the future. Whoops, forgot Figgins, Cust, Kennedy, Ja. Wilson and probably several other retreads.
    Another possibility is that Nintendo’s financial losses and current M’s attendance might force the reclusive Japanese owner to sell the club to a knowledgeable individual or group which would shred the Lincoln-Armstrong management script, thus giving Z-man the latitude to build real major league team in Seattle.
    Ah, hope springs eternal in the human breast.

  • Alex

    Milton Bradley was released because he sucked at baseball and is not part of the the team’s future. He was not released for being a malcontent.

  • Alex

    Milton Bradley was released because he sucked at baseball and is not part of the the team’s future. He was not released for being a malcontent.

  • Sgos49

    The Cubs were smarter…Silva was gone March 27. 

  • Sgos49

    The Cubs were smarter…Silva was gone March 27.