Kap's Corner

More On Milton Bradley

After the Cubs suspended Milton Bradley for the remainder of the season several members of the 2009 Chicago Cubs spoke out about how Milton never really fit in with the ball club. Ryan Dempster, who is one of the leaders in the clubhouse, had some very interesting things to say when he was questioned about Bradley's suspension.  "At the end of the day, he was provided a great opportunity to be part of a really great organization with a lot of really good guys," Dempster said. "It just didn't seem to make him happy -- anything. Hopefully this is a little bit of a wake-up call for him, and he'll realize how good of a gig you have.

"It probably became one of those things where you start saying things that you're putting the blame on everybody else. Sometimes you've just got to look in the mirror and realize that maybe the biggest part of the problem is yourself."

Wow, those are some very pointed remarks from one of the best guys on the club and one of the easiest to get along with. Bradley has been a pain to deal with almost from the day he signed with the Cubs last January. He was a guest on the TV show that I host (Chicago Tribune Live) and on Sports Central (the radio show that I host) and he spent the time on the air asking the fans of Chicago to give him a chance to start over and to have a clean slate.
Well, he was afforded that opportunity and he completely wasted it. He was difficult to get along with for his teammates, for management, and for the media. He is a paranoid person who was never going make it in Chicago because of the pressure that a player must deal with playing for the Cubs. He is far too thin skinned to handle any type of a pressure situation, and now that he has been suspended, it is going to be even more difficult to trade him and the remaining 21 million dollars on his contract.

While Bradley is a complete jerk, this situation also has to call into question the way he was handled by the organization and by manager Lou Piniella. Bradley has played poorly all season long, and yet at no point was he ever in danger of losing his position in right field. For that, you have to blame the manager.

Lou Piniella makes out the lineup card.  And while he sat in the dugout and watched Bradley struggle, he continued to play him on a nightly basis. Don't forget that Lou also saw all of the BS that was going on behind the scenes, and he knew that Bradley was a terrible presence in the clubhouse. Jim Hendry signed Bradley and also saw what was going on all season long. Today Hendry mentioned the "issues we've all lived with during the year," referring to Bradley's publicized battles with umpires, fans and the Chicago media.

"The last few days became too much for me to tolerate," Hendry said. "I'm certainly not going to let our great fans become an excuse. I'm not going to tolerate not being able to answer questions from the media respectfully. Whether you feel like talking or not, it's part of all of our jobs.

"There's a right way to do it and a wrong way. I'm not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel, and I'm certainly not going to let a player, as was mentioned in the article today, (talk about) negativity of the organization." Hendry added the "only real negativity" was Bradley's production (12 HRs, 40 RBIs in 393 at-bats).

Yet no one ever did anything about it until the Cubs were out of the race and for that management should receive its fair share of criticism.

Suspending him now is not really taking a tough stand.  It doesn't really matter now, because Milton Bradley has been a divisive force since the season started. Furthermore, the Cubs enabled him by not controlling him or taking a stand against him until September 20th. For that, they should be blamed.

I'm glad that his tenure as a Cub is coming to a close, but this season really fell apart when the Cubs failed to realize the importance of clubhouse presence, which is essential in a sport where you play 162 games a season and you spend 6 months together virtually everyday.

I understood the move to let Kerry Wood go, but he was huge force in the Cubs clubhouse and his role was never replaced. Then Mark DeRosa was traded, and another clubhouse leader was gone and in his place came Milton Bradley who was an awful influence on the team. Add in the antics of Carlos Zambrano, the injury to Aramis Ramirez, and the poor performance of Alfonso Soriano and you can see why the 2009 Cubs were such a failure in so many ways.

Now the big question is how much money will the Cubs be forced to eat on his contract to get him out of Chicago, because there is no way he will be on the roster for the 2010 season. If the Cubs only off season move is to dump Milton Bradley, then so be it but he cannot be allowed to pollute this club for one more game. Bradley had a golden opportunity to be a star in a great city, but all of the lip service that he gave us about wanting to change and how much more relaxed he was after signing a multi year deal was just hot air.

All Milton Bradley ever cared about was the money he was being paid in Chicago. Well Milton, you will get your money. That much is guaranteed. You will also get one more guarantee and that is a one way ticket out of Chicago. Congratulations, you earned it.


Just Wondering Department....Why is Lou Piniella continuing to play Bobby Scales in the outfield over Jake Fox? That move alone is one of the most absurd things that I have seen in a season filled with strange occurrences. Fox has been extremely productive since he was called up from Class AAA on June 16th, yet Piniella has started Bobby Scales in left field for most of the past two weeks. Scales is not an outfielder, and he has no future as an outfielder with the Cubs. Fox, however, has an excellent bat and needs playing time to prove whether he can or cannot play in the outfield on a more regular basis next season. Why Piniella is playing Scales in left is another of the more questionable moves he has made this season.

If Bobby Cox and the Braves can do it why can't the Cubs? In case you missed this note out of Atlanta, Braves manager Bobby Cox pulled his starting shortstop out of a game a couple of days ago after he felt that Yunel Escobar didn't run hard to first after hitting a ground ball. We have had to tolerate guys posing at home after hitting a ball that they thought was a home run but was not, or not running hard to first after hitting a ground ball. Yet nothing seems to be done about it. This has to change if the Cubs are to change the culture on their baseball team. I know for a fact that two veteran players spoke to Alfonso Soriano about his posing at home plate and he told them "that's what I do" despite their protests.

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16 Comments

backslap said:

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Kap: Why take this shot at Lou "Yet no one ever did anything about it until the season was too far gone and for that management should receive its fair share of criticism." Lou sent the guy home in JUNE!! against the Sox. He berated him.... overheard by the media in May saying "The guy makes $30 million and its never his fault." You question why Lou keeps wheeling him out there all year...well they signed the knucklehead for $30 million dollars, he was their big off season acquisition were we going to play Micah Hoffpauir in right and sit this guy or do they hope he returns to form like they did with D. Lee early in the season when all the call in shows were screaming for Hoffpauier to replace him as well. We know the guy is a bad team guy but he put up numbers in the past and you are paying him $30 million so you had to keep playing him to see if he started to hit. I just don't get why you keep harping on Lou this and Lou that, comparing him to Bobby Cox /Tony LaRussa etc. Lou is the best manager we have had in the last 30+ years hands down and I am sorry he is not Joe Girardi...let it go. Milton Bradley was an aweful signing but that goes on Hendry, Soriano's contract was an absolute abyss because of the years (which was McDonough's fault for giving him 8 YEARS!!!) but don't forget this team doesn't even get into postseason the last few years without him. Why doesn't anyone in the media ask Lou why Scales is playing over Fox. I keep hearing all of the pundits screaming about it but no one ever asks him. And finally as much as I hate to admit it one thing I can agree with Bradley on is that the media in this town yourself included has gotten more and more negative than ever, just look at Jay Cutler the guy has one count em one bad game and the papers are running afront page articles about his Facial Expressions and his perceived sarcastic answer to dumb questions.

David Kaplan said:

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Hold on a second. Lou sent him home in June, yes but he was in the lineup THE NEXT DAY! Lou spent the pregame the next apologizing for getting into it with him. Please, don't tell me how tough Lou was with him. By Lou's own admission "I tend to look the other way more on stuff than I used to and I am much more patient" was what he said to us in August. Bradley should not have been playing everyday when it was obvious how much he was struggling both on the field and off. yes, Lou is a good manager but he has had a bad season this year. I agree that he righted the ship in 2007 and led the Cubs to a division title and he did a good job last season but his performance this season was not very good. Her's hoping that he can turn things around next year because I don't believe he is going anywhere.

Edelweiss said:

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With any chance of a playoff gone, Lou seems to be trying to take a look at some of his new players. He already knows what Fox can do, and is making some experiments with the lineup.

backslap said:

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Kap I know he was in the lineup the next day but in this day and age you and I know that management is not going to let the manager sit a $30 million a year veteran. He ripped the guy a new one behind close doors which I have heard fom my sources (Bob Grim of the White Sox, hey I am not afraid to tell you my sources he's my neighbor! :)) was allot uglier than was reported in the press and because of damage control he was put in the lineup the next day. I know about his comment about looking the other way more than he used to but with the incredible amount of money and all the media, blogs and twitters out there nothing is off the record anymore. Bobby Cox act all righteous and he may have yanked a Andrew Jones (in his second year in the bigs) but he aint going to do it in public to a veteran like last year when John Smoltz told him off in the dugout after taking him out after he was stinkin up the joint. The great Bobby Cox looked the other way, now what happened in the clubhouse is their business but Smotzie was back up on the hill his next start.

backslap said:

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BTW Kap I appreciate your give and take, kudos to you for responding to your fans, agree or disagree

DGRon said:

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Its pretty clear Milton was the clubhouse cancer. I haven't read a quote from any Cubs players defending this guy. (the normal reaction). Not even classy D.Lee. Aram said he didn't even know him. Milt is a selfish player. I think the I feel like $30M bucks comment said it all. I can't think of any scenario of mending this relationship between Milton, his teammates, his manager, upper management and cub fans.

Agree with other poster. Lou is the best manager we've had in along time.

Marquette hoops fan said:

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Mr. Kaplan,

You are speaking the truth on this whole season long debacle with Bradley. This guy is a mess. He's had problems with every team he has ever been on in the major leagues. Apparently Mr. Hendry never heard the old adage "...a leopard doesn't change his spots...", because signing this chronic malcontent was an ill-fated move right from the start. What a waste of money! The Cubs Mgt. needs to take a hard look at the make-up of their roster, and weed out the other bad attitudes too (e.g., Zambrano). It's a bad mix, and team chemistry has seemingly been an issue all season due to the horrible attitudes of M.B., and C.Z, especially. All I can say to conclude is I'm glad football season is here! GO BEARS!!!

Adrob said:

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Can't say I disagree Kap Milton should be gone.

BUT Hendry is a WIMP. He can't stand people not being "nice" to the Media? Give me a break. How many times has Pinella ranted at the chicago press for their questions? Zambrano? others too.

That "excuse" is as feeble as I have heard in a long time.

You want to suspend him because he refuese to pinch hit-ok

Because he is a detriment in the clubhouse-ok
other Baseball grounds-ok

because he doesn't want to play for the Cubs-Ok

But simply because he wasn't nice to the press or because he answered a question truthfully (if that is how he feels that is how he feels, you can't criticise him for stating what he believes)

What are we all supposed to be lovey-dovey? Kap don't ask any more pointed questions or maybe Hendry won't talk to you.

tbianco592 said:

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Perhaps this question is too simple, but why in the H*** did we sign him in the first place? And that falls on Hendry...

Good riddance!!!

*dan bradley said:

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Well... I'd like to thank Jim Hendry for finally taking action, in spite of the dollars involved. I said a couple months ago that Cub fans don't deserve to be berated and bashed by a guy who's been here only a couple of months - we've been through enough!

What team would be a good fit for Milton? Maybe Pittsburgh?

Saboia said:

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Great post Kap. Even better observation about Bobby Scales!!! I sent an e-mail to Paul Sullivan a week ago about it to his mailbag but did not get answered. What in the world is Piniella thinking playing a guy who, no matter how great of a story he is, has no future in the organization. Why not play Fox who has a chance to be big-leaguer, even fuld!!! I don't get it. It looks like sheer stupidity to me. Either that or he might just not like Fox. It took him long enough to put him in 3b, and now he has no shot to play LF either?!?! There is gotta something more.

JF said:

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Notions that a manager or the coaches can, at will, bannish a player from the team or bannish a player's playing time are ridiculous. A manager's plan or opinion might mean alot in some cases, but it never is the only say or the final one. The whole idea begs the questions of who could have been brought in to play RF better than Bradley did, how does sitting Bradley or sending him home affect the roles of other players and how does it impact the payroll. The notion is disguised as some obvious solution. Solution to what? This is not defending Bradley's inability to get along with other people, rather it points out the magnitude of Hendry's bad decisions. Was there a Cub outfielder who played better than Bradley this season?

drwallyball said:

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Let's hope that Tom Ricketts can say to Lou " I spent 140 million for the team of players you selected to come out of spring training, I hope you picked the best 25. Now put the best team on the field day in and day out, give us the best chance of winning period. If filling out the lineup is done by salary, I can do that, and I don't need you."

TracyT said:

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To me this story is more about Jim Hendry and less about Bradley. There is no doubt in my mind that Hendry had his worst year as an executive. Consider these points:

— He let Wood leave. And no, he is not a very good pitcher, but he definitely was a great clubhouse leader and a fan favorite. And he brought in Gregg to replace him.

— He sent DeRosa packing and brought in Aaron Miles, who probably had the worst season among all veteran ballplayers. The stats don't lie. DeRosa, on the other hand, has had a sub-par year due to a hand injury. But again, a great clubhouse guy who would have filled in nicely after Ramirez went down. Did bring in Baker, though.

— The outfield disaster. How many untold millions have been wasted, and will be wasted, on a guy who has no business being out there, a Japanese import who can catch it but cannot drive in runs, and a player who will reap in millions but will never be seen in a Cub uniform again.

Other points to consider: he is shelling out tens of millions to a pitcher with tremendous physical ability but nothing between his ears, his farm system is mediocre at best with perhaps one impact player that may make a contribution some day, and two trips to the post-season but zero wins.

I have been an admirer of Jim over the years and I believe he deserves the chance to redeem himself, but I don't see how this team is going to get to the World Series in the next three-four years under his guidance.

willemaze said:

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Re Jake Fox: Kap you asked the right question. I've been asking it for weeks now. What I can't believe is that there isn't a reporter in town that can get a good answer to that question.

All I know is after two very good games in late August, Lou was asked if Fox was going to see more time, and Lou said they were going to go with the veterans. Since then Soriano has gone down and Bradley is out - but still no regular PT for Fox. Why??

And while you're getting the answer to that, I still havn't heard the answer to the question Bob Brenly raised on air in June: when Aramis went down in May, why did it take the Cubs three weeks to call up Fox despite the fact that he was leading all of AAA in the triple crown? And, why in those three weeks was he not given any time at AAA at 3rd base, instead making him learn on the job once he got here??

I think I know the answer: Fox had been labeled by the "organization" as a player who didn't have a position. All he's done is play 3rd, 1st, LF, RF and even C in a capable fashion - nothing anymore egregious than we see from Soriano on a regular basis.

The Cubs mis-evaluation of Jake Fox is one of the most under-reported stories of the year. It's almost as if the better Fox does, the worse he makes the organization look. It won't surprise me in the least if they move him in the off season.

Maybe there's some disciplinary issue with Fox we don't know about, but that would be a story worth knowing. Fox seems like a guy who is genuine and "gets it" (as Hollandsworth has said). So until I'm proven wrong, my conclusion is the Cubs are trying to cover up their own mis-judgments, going back to when journeyman Scott Servais informed Fox he wouldn't make it to majors and tried to bury him in reports to management, which Hendry later admitted he only knew what he read about Fox (see Carrie Muskat's story a couple of weeks ago on mlb.com.)

There is a story here that isn't being told. Come on, tough guy reporters, do your job!!!!

gorku said:

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I agree about Jake Fox. Lou doesn't have confidence in him as an outfielder, and I don't either, but he's not going to get any better sitting on the bench. Also, he's needs to see as much live pitching as he can. We need to know if he can adjust to the breaking pitch, specifically the slider low and outside.

Scales is a great guy, and I'm very happy he has gotten, however briefly, to live his major-league dream. He possibly has a future as a utility man for a few years, but he has his own problems in the outfield. Fox could become a 30HR, 100RBI man, if not here, then as a DH in the AL.

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