When Ryan Langerhans was designated to make room for Mike Wilson, I wrote that Milton Bradley had survived. Milton Bradley did survive that move. He did not survive this one.
Mariners recall OF Carlos Peguero from Triple-A Tacoma; OF Milton Bradley Designated for Assignment
Peguero, we've already seen very briefly. The awkward giant has batted .282 in the early going with Tacoma with some power and a poor understanding of the strike zone. He is probably not ready to make a big contribution in the Major Leagues, but then neither are a lot of the Mariners' current major leaguers, so whatever. I'd expect to see the left-handed Peguero platoon with the right-handed Mike Wilson at least until Franklin Gutierrez is able to return, at which point Peguero seems like a possible demotion.
But this move is less about Carlos Peguero, and more about Milton Bradley. I could probably write ten thousand words on Bradley and still feel like I'm leaving something out. Alternatively, I could just post that picture of him from the other day and feel satisfied that it says what needs to be said. Milton Bradley is like Wikipedia - the more you learn, the more you realize what you don't know, and never will. The world is a complicated place, made up of complicated things and complicated people. Milton Bradley is a complicated person. He can be discussed in very simple terms, but he cannot be explained in anything less than a thesis, if he can be explained at all.
When the Mariners first traded for Bradley, we were excited, because the team was unloading one of its problems for somebody else's, turning a sure negative into a possible one. There was the chance that Bradley would hit. There was the chance that Bradley would behave better. There was the chance. With Carlos Silva, there was less of a chance. New homes and new teammates can do funny things to a guy, and we were happy to give Bradley an opportunity to show that he could be useful.
Ultimately, though, Bradley's been a problem just about everywhere, and in time - just as so many predicted - he became one of ours. He wasn't a problem in quite the same way he was a problem elsewhere. Despite the blowups, he usually maintained a cool head. But there were still the usual distractions, and Bradley wasn't making up for them with his play. Bradley batted .209 with the Mariners over 400 trips to the plate, with ten home runs and a .649 OPS. He missed the second half last year with an injury. This year he's struggled badly in the field. If Bradley were producing, the Mariners would've kept him around, but he played himself right off the roster.
Fans used to argue over whether or not Milton Bradley was worth the trouble back when he was good. Back when he was an Expo, and an Indian, and a Dodger, and an A and a Padre and a Ranger and a Cub. Although the discussion grew tired, the central issue was a fascinating one: how much must a player produce to make up for sundry other negatives? How well does a guy have to hit to offset an unstable personality and potential problems in the clubhouse? I don't think the argument was ever resolved. It probably never will be. Arguments that lean on the value of intangibles are argued forever.
But we no longer have to ask ourselves whether or not Milton Bradley is worth it anymore, because we have our answer. I don't know if he was worth it ten years ago or five years ago. This year, he's not worth it. Strictly in terms of performance, he's a bad player. He doesn't hit well, he's injury-prone, and he's slow in the field. Milton Bradley wouldn't be worth it if he were anybody else. Throw in the fact that he's Milton Bradley and it only tips the scales even further. He hasn't been playing well, and he's also recently been ejected twice and suspended. Who's to say what else might've happened? What indications were there that he was ever going to turn things around? Milton Bradley's 33, and he hasn't been a good hitter for three years. He wasn't going to turn things around.
So now he's finished. Not just with Seattle. Probably Major League Baseball. I don't know who would bother offering Milton Bradley a minor league contract at this point. There just isn't any upside. He might turn up with the Long Island Ducks, as all of these players eventually do, but as has so often been the case in recent years, it looks like Seattle is again the final resting place of another veteran's career.
The team will move on. The team will probably be happier. The team might've been okay with Bradley in the clubhouse, but I don't think there's any denying that people had to walk on egg shells around him, and now there's an excitable young rookie in his place. Players love rookies. Rookies are enthusiastic, and handy when you need shit to be carried from one place to another.
Bradley will move on. If his career isn't done, he'll move on to another organization, and if his career is done, he'll move on to life. He's earned a lot of money in the game. Maybe getting out of baseball will prove to be the answer. Maybe he'll find happiness on the sofa. Maybe he won't. Maybe he's already happy, with occasional ventings. Maybe venting some of the time allows Bradley to be happy the rest of the time. How should I know? How should anybody know? I suspect we'll hear more about his day-to-day life in ten years, when some brave and ambitious journalist writes up the Milton Bradley: Remember Him?
And I'll move on, and I won't. I'll move on with the team and I'll be excited to see if Peguero and Wilson can supply any power, but Milton Bradley was one of the most interesting players that's ever worn a Mariner uniform, and now that his chapter is over, I want to feel like I learned something. I want to take something out of the whole Milton Bradley experience so that I can grow as a fan, and grow as a person. But I don't know what to take. Milton Bradley is the very definition of misunderstood, in that nobody understands him. How can I learn from that which I don't understand?
I don't know. Maybe that's the lesson.