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A Player For the Ages….
No it wasn’t as sexy as, say, setting a new hitting streak
record, but what Derek Jeter accomplished last week was monumental in its own
right. Think of the most storied franchise in the history of the game and of
all of the Hall of Famers who passed through Yankee Stadium: Ruth, Gehrig,
DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra. These names are synonymous with the Yankee tradition.
Now comes Derek Jeter, the team’s all-time hits leader, breaking Gehrig’s
record, which stood for 70 years.
Derek Jeter is now a true Yankee legend. Yet is doesn’t seem
like it, because his low-key and modest persona does not attract media scrutiny
like, say, Manny Ramirez.
Ten years from now it will sink in when a tour of Monument
Park will include seeing the number two included on the wall of retired
numbers. Maybe then we will appreciate what an asset to the game Derek Jeter
Pity Milton Bradley?
Should we be surprised that Milton Bradley proved again that
he is his own worst enemy? Another meltdown has led to his season ending
suspension. He lambasted the press, the fans, and his teammates. He has left a wake of chaos and
discontent wherever he has played. Yet, one can’t help to have some sympathy
for the man. He has a mental health disease that needs to be treated quickly
and aggressively. The Cubs’ fans shouldn’t be surprised by this since they have
booed him unmercifully almost since opening day. The sensitive nature of his
fragile makeup almost guaranteed this unfortunate outcome. While it is easy to bash someone and
call them vile names, people need to understand that Milton Bradley is not a
bad person, he has a real medical condition that needs treatment.
Please, Milton, for your own sake, get some help.
The Brewers Are Mailing It In
Today, September 21, the Brewers open a three game series
against the Cubs 12 ½ games out of first place. They have effectively been out
of the race since the beginning of the month. Everyone knew that the starting
pitching has been woefully ineffective. GM Doug Melvin’s failure to improve the
rotation was unfathomable. He appeared during the telecast tonight defending
his inaction by saying he still has faith that the starters will bounce back
next year. Yah? If you believe
this, you also believe that national health care will be cheaper and more
The team is mailing it in. They might as well pack it up and
go home since they are playing like they can’t wait to get there. Manager Ken Macha’s use of the pitching
staff is like a house painter using a different color paint in the middle of
doing a room. He lets the starters get pounded and when the game is all but
officially over goes to his “tired” bullpen. He will not give Yovani Gallardo
another start citing the number of “pitches” he has thrown! This is another
trend that is unsettling. If a team’s good players are not going to be used,
why don’t we just end the season a month earlier or give the loyal fans a
discount, like minor league ticket prices. Who needs to pay full price to watch
A promising start has been reduced to protecting pitchers
for next year. Do you feel as cheated as I do?
Should The Brewers Trade Prince Fielder?
This will be the hottest topic in the hot stove talks this
winter. Getting a jump on the speculation, I believe that the team should seek
legitimate offers. There are a few logical reasons for this.
First, when he is eligible for free agency he will seek and
probably get Teixiera money, his agent being the notorious Scott Boras. That,
of course, is out of the club’s price range.
Second, with the club in dire need for quality pitching, a
Fielder trade could reap a harvest of good young arms.
Third, not many teams will be able to afford Fielder and
among those who can, most are set at first base. The most likely pursuers will
be the Red Sox and the Mets. The
Sox could upgrade the position since right now they are working a rotation
there between Youkalis, Martinez and Kotchman. The Mets will have money to burn since they will show Carlos
Delgado and his $19.2 million expired contract to the door.
Who has the best pitching prospects? With Boston, it starts
with Dan Bard, Clay Bucholz and Michael Bowden. With the Mets, there’s not much
to offer. A Jon Niese or a Tobi Stone is about it. If the Mets had any other
good prospects they would’ve been up this year.
Trading Fielder will create a crater in the offense that
will not be easily replaced. And it will be spectacularly unpopular with the
fans. But he’s going to leave eventually so upgrading the pitching staff sooner
than later is the best outcome.
I never thought that I would come to the defense of Milton Bradley but the recent euphoria over the return of Manny Ramirez has me doing just that.
The ridiculous fawning over Ramirez is a nauseating reflection on today’s baseball fans and the media who choose to idolize a self-centered sham. I guess now that they no longer have Barry Bonds to ingratiate themselves with, Ramirez will do.
What is it nowadays that makes a self-centered cheat so popular? What exactly has he done recently to deserve such allegiance?
1. Last summer he quit on the Red Sox in the middle of the season because he was unhappy with the direction of contract negotiations. His bizarre behavior included spending time between Red Sox pitching changes inside the Green Monster doing God knows what.
2. As a going away present, Ramirez cuffed a front office lackey in Houston because he had the misfortune of telling him he could not get all of the comp passes he requested.
3. Upon his arrival in Los Angeles, he was immediately greeted as some sort of matinee idol which, I suppose, is only logical seeing that the city is a vast fantasy land.
4. In the offseason he held out until he got a farcical contract.
5. In April, he was caught using a banned substance leading to a 50 game suspension. Then he wanted everyone to believe that he was unaware that the substance was forbidden.
His return last Friday bordered on the bizarre. The media frenzy was akin to the paparazzi following some celebrity icon. Every move was documented. Every swing, every at bat, every crotch scratching was photographed and reported on. “Here’s Manny picking his nose!”
What kind of example is being set for the kids that it’s OK to cheat?
Meanwhile Milton Bradley is also a target for the fans and media but for an entirely different reason. While Manny can’t do anything wrong, Bradley can’t to do anything right. I listened to Cubs’ fans constantly boo him this weekend. Why? He’s not living up to his lofty contract. Plus, he’s always expected to act like a Boy Scout because of his anger disorder. Any deviation from this results in a chorus of boos. Lose track of outs? Get booed. Pop out with runners on? Get booed. Question an umpire’s call? Get booed. Have a confrontation with the manager? Get sent home!
Bradley is guilty only of not being able to control his emotions. While I’m not making excuses for his past incidents, he should not be held to a higher standard than Ramirez.
He goes to anger management meetings. He recognizes this is an issue. He admitted he was wrong with his face-to-face with Lou Piniella. He is a man aware of his shortcomings and trying to do something about it. Yet the media vilifies him.
Ramirez fits the twisted logic of getting a pass on his actions because he has been chosen as a cultural celebrity. Meanwhile, Bradley is booed because he has an emotional problem that he has admitted and is trying to treat. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?
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?