The recent steal of Bobby Abreu by the Angels for the measly sum of $5 million for one year raises two questions. One, why did it take so long for a team to sign a player who has averaged 22 HR/98 RBI and .300 over his 13 year career, seven in which he has driven in over 100 runs including last year? Two, why do the Cubs think Milton Bradley is worth more? Bradley, you may recall, signed a three year contract in which he will make over $5.2 million this year.
Entering his tenth year as a major leaguer, Bradley will be playing for his seventh team. His longest tenure with any team has been two years – with Cleveland and the Dodgers.
Bradley’s reputation for questionable behavior is well founded. In addition to his highly visible run-ins with umpires, Bradley appears to be the Randy Moss of baseball. His OPS (Only Plays Sometimes) is among the best. According to reports, last year Bradley would take days off with one questionable malady after another. While never on the disabled list, Bradley sat out with “light-headedness”, an injection, shoulder pain, and a hamstring tweak. And that was just in May!
In June his quad suddenly flared up, and in July he had another injection, a forearm bruise and a sore knee. When August rolled around with the scorching Texas heat, Bradley begged off with back stiffness, a sinus problem and more knee soreness. In early September he sat out with a sore wrist, pain from a cortisone shot, a sore back again and yet another injection. His creative ways to stay out of the lineup would make Cpl. Klinger of M*A*S*H fame proud. Then nearing the end of the season he realized that he was short PA of qualifying for the batting title. Suddenly he found a secret elixir that kept him going with nary a hangnail.
For this he gets more than Bobby Abreu? There were no other teams willing to pay more than $5 million dollars to a steady and consistent performer? Did anyone notice last year that the Yankees emerged from their lethargic play when he began to hit?
When Hal Steinbrenner opened the vault at YankOne a line formed and when it got to Abreu it suddenly sealed shut. Now the platoon of Xavier Nady (.305/.357/.510) and Nick Swisher (.219/.332/.410) will need to replicate his production (.296/.371/.471). That’s what Brian Cashman is banking on.
Meanwhile, the Rays, Indians, A’s, Braves, Marlins, Pirates and Giants passed on Abreau despite the fact that all are in need of an upgrade in rf and all, even the Pirates can afford to pay an “A” level free agent at least $5 million.
Will Cubs GM Jim Hendry have second thoughts come June when Bradley baits umps, calls out Alfonso Soriano, gets in a scrap with Carlos Zambrano and angers Lou Piniella (and Cubs fans) when he sits out with assorted walk-in clinic ailments?