Cocktail Napkin Trading
My how the sports writers love to speculate. They don't start a rumor mind you, they get a few out of context quotes to make it seem like it's from a real "the trade's just about ready to be completed" source. We all know Captain Wrongway Phil Rogers loves to do this stuff in his Sunday 'mlb whispers' column. The newest wanna-be GM rumor comes from Paul Sullivan, the Cubs beat specialist from the currently bankrupt (can I count the ways) Chicago Tribune.
Pseudo GM, 'Paul Sully-My-Reputation' pulls out the two martini cocktail napkin and draws up trade possibilities for Milton Bradley this offseason. On a bigger picture level he categorizes two "how to unload Bradley scenerios". Then he paints a classic bad contract for bad contract, real dollar salary swap with the Giants that oddly makes some sense (accent on odd).
Sully Scenerio #1:
A reverse salary dump or more accurately a salary eat and swallow (definitely not tasty). The team that will take on Bradley and the $20+ million remaining on his deal has no "bad" contracts of near equal value (because their inherently low payroll doesn't have any big contracts of similar value). Kansas City and San Diego get mentions here. KC will have 2 years remaining on Gil Meche's 5/55 deal but Meche has let everyone know he doesn't like the big market spotlight. He was a passing consideration during the 2006 off-season where the Cubs rightly preferred to sign Bulldog Teddy Roosevelt Lilly. A deal with these teams would essentially be the Cubs unloading Bradley but still paying the rest of his contract for minimal minor league talent in exchange. I'm not sure if it's worth discussing this since it's probably about the same as just releasing him and eating the collard "green"(s). The Cubs have done this before and gotten Jerry Hairston Jr., Mike Fontenot and Jose Ceda level value as players on previous trades to get bigger salary players out of town. So current GM Hendry has gotten something out of that situation before with the most value extracted from the unloading of Todd Hundley's big contract (2 years remained on a 4/24 deal) for Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek.
ESPN even got Padres GM, Kevin Towers to add this nearly tampering quote:
"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 his knee 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."
So it looks like Towers is trying to 'target' ex-Cubs in a paint-by-numbers fashion, starting at #22. That makes Bradley his obvious next target. I'm thinking Ryne Sandberg will be the Padres next manager based on this logic.
Here's the inside poop from KC:
According to Royals insiders, upper management still considers Bradley a talented hitter who could thrive in a low-key environment such as the one in Kansas City.
Sully Scenerio #2:
Finding a trading partner with an ugly contract that makes a bigger financial committment than the current Bradley deal...and Sullivan seems to have found one!
So here's the punch line:
Aaron Rowand for Milton Bradley. Doing the math it's a 3/36 vs 2/21 swap. The Cubs would be on the hook for an albeit deferred, $15 million more. Hey, everybody likes Rowand and we all knows how laid back things are in northern California. Bradley would look a bit small (but comfy) in the Barry Bonds barkalounger. Hitting in front of happy go lucky Kung Fu Panda just might work for Milton.
If the Cubs want to swap bad contracts, as they did in the Hundley deal, the Giants may be Hendry's best option. Center fielder Aaron Rowand has not put up the kind of numbers expected in San Francisco and has three years remaining for $36 million.
Rowand is two years removed from a 27-homer, 89-RBI season for the Phillies and would be a good fit in the Cubs clubhouse.
(addition: and Bradley would be two years removed from a 22-homer, .321/.436/.663/.999 line in Texas)
I hope that Paul Sullivan uses the napkin on that blue cheese (from the olives) dribbling down his chin. A deal like this would make Hendry's biblical acquisitions: 3 Aaron's and 1 Moses...shouldn't the counter move really be a Pharoah Ramses II? That should get the Cubs a player who can really provide "protection" for the middle of the order (of course, that depends on how well the late Yul Brynner can hit).
One last thing...
As suspended Milton Bradley isn't with the team, I'm thinking I should be looking for him under the bus. Shouldn't players (in this case Reed Johnson) just keep their mouths shut rather than putting broken feet in them?
"Cubs fans would fall in love with him (Rowand), for sure," Cubs outfielder Reed
Johnson said. "He did well on the other side of town, and I know people
... appreciate the way he plays the game."
"But he (Rowand) takes responsibility for stuff," Johnson said. "If you ask him, he'll tell you he could be playing better than he is now."
**The Grand (where's) Waldo Hotel Bus**
Oddly, if they do get Rowand, it might just mean Reed Johnson might not be affordable as a 4th outfielder with Sam Fuld as a much cheaper option for that roster spot. With Fuld, the Cubs would be one player closer to a minyon, so that prayers for a World Series win could possibly get answered.