I don't like to use hindsight when assessing a situation because the result doesn't always justify the decision. In the case of Chicago Cubs' GM Jim Hendry, however, he simply has to be taken to task for some of his recent moves, namely the signing of Milton Bradley in the offseason when hitters like perennial Cubs-killer Adam Dunn was awaiting an offer (which turned out to be less than Bradley's).
While Milton Bradley would have you believe he is having a tough time adjusting this year because he has never "not" hit, the reality is that he is a talent akin to Trot Nixon or Carl Everett and doesn't always play well with others. Translating that into a 3-year, $30-million deal for a player known for interrupting clubhouses when they thought $13-million over 3 years for Mark DeRosa was too much explains why the Cubs are where they are right now - struggling around .500 despite receiving quality starting pitching all year. Rather than rehash the facts of Bradley's less-than-outstanding career numbers, let me simply republish my post from February 12 when the Cubs originally signed him. The logic is still the same:
Bobby Abreu signed a one-year deal with the Angels yesterday for a reported $5 million. That's right, the 34-year-old outfielder who has posted SIX consecutive 100+RBI seasons with a career .300 BA and .405 OBP just signed for $5 million. Meanwhile, the Cubs recently gave Milton Bradley $30 million over three years. Bradley is four years younger but has never even reached 80 RBIs in a season and has much worse career BA and OBP numbers, not to mention a somewhat troubled history with his public image. Am I missing something??
The Angels got a steal, and the Washington Nationals made a solid move as well, signing Adam Dunn for $20 million over two years. Everyone knows about Dunn's struggles with his batting average (.247 career) and high strikeout totals, but his career OBP of .381 is better than average and those almost-guaranteed 40 home runs don't hurt either. Credit Milton Bradley's agent because somehow he got a better deal than Dunn, and I can assure you that, barring injury, Dunn will finish '09 with more HRs, more RBIs, and a comparable OBP. The only thing worse will be his BA, and that is even factoring in that Dunn has to play in Washington.
With four kids, The Commish has to take the occasional break from watching baseball. Getting a break from the four kids, however, has proven much more difficult in recent years. Check out the latest Foul Territory and learn why "four" is the magic number to guarantee you will be home with your kids every Friday and Saturday night for the next 10 years!
With all of the steroid talk and fame being swallowed up by the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and others in the spotlight thanks to large media markets or controversial story lines, one man has been quietly putting up ungodly numbers since his debut in 2001. That man is Albert Pujols.
The biggest question mark about Pujols is his age. Listed as being born in 1980, this guy simply didn't look just 21 when he debuted in 2001. If he really is only 29 right now and is never linked to PEDs, Pujols has a chance to set many major records. Get this: he has eclipsed 100 RBI and a .314 BA in every season to date! Currently in his ninth season, Albert Pujols has never had a bad year. 2009 is no different. Sitting on totals of 26 HR, 70 RBI, and an OBP of .446 through this morning, the first baseman is firing on all cylinders. Yes, he can run a little too, as he has shown with nine stolen bases this year.
At this pace, while Pujols celebrates his 30th birthday next season, he may be approaching 400 HR and 1,200 RBI. One more decade of dominance will put Albert atop many "best of" lists.
The Colorado Rockies are showing brief signs of the streakiness they displayed in late 2007 en route to a World Series appearance. Currently, Colorado is riding an 11-game winning streak and in the span of two weeks, they have gone from also-rans to Wild Card contenders, standing just three games behind San Francisco.
It's only mid-June, but a steady onslaught from the Rockies this summer could make the Wild Card race even wilder than normal. It amazes me how different a ballclub plays when a manager is replaced. Regardless of the sport, teams always seem to display a little winning spurt shortly after the coach/manager is fired, even though common sense should prove otherwise. Despite the same pitchers pitching and the same lineup (for the most part) batting, the Rockies have managed to go 13-4 in Jim Tracy's (a guy accustomed to the firing line as well) short tenure after an embarrassing 18-28 under Clint Hurdle, the same guy leading the team in 2007 to an almost perfect September and an improbable playoff run. Things usually even out in the long run, but for now, Jim Tracy and the Rockies are taking full advantage of this run.
In the past week, Randy Johnson won his 300th game, Bobby Abreu got his 2,000th hit, and Bobby Cox won his 2,000th game as manager. The real story of the week, though, is Pittsburgh's constant willingness to restock young talent before any success is achieved. The Pirates dealt their All-Star outfielder Nate McLouth to Atlanta for more prospects, claiming it was a good move since minor league outfielder Andrew McCutchen is major league ready. Uhhh, so was Bay, Nady, and McLouth, but once they start putting up numbers, they get dealt.
Oakland and Florida, who have similar yet very different strategies than Pittsburgh, also deal their top talent when payday comes, but they try to negotiate small deals long enough to actually benefit from the talent before it leaves. Note Florida's TWO World Series titles and Oakland's handful of playoff appearances recently despite being dubbed a "small market" team.
Pittsburgh finally followed suit, signing McLouth to a reasonable 3-year deal this spring, giving the Pirates an offensive backbone while their other prospects matured. That strategy went out the window again last week, as more young pitchers were acquired, only to be frustrated in the coming years because even the best performances won't end in victories when the team sports a minor league offense year in and year out.
It's an embarrassing cycle that keeps repeating itself in Pittsburgh. If the Pirates don't strike lightning in a bottle somehow in the next few years, that beautiful new stadium will be better used for tractor pulls and rodeos than substandard baseball going on two decades strong.
Like a solar eclipse, Randy Johnson may accomplish something that you may not see again in your lifetime - a pitcher reaching 300 victories. If you want to see something that happens ALL the time, tune in to the White Sox - A's game tonight. Chicago will be facing a pitching named Outman (no joke) for the first time ever. In the last decade or so, it seems that the Pale Hose always have trouble with pitchers they haven't seen before. Maybe it's an anomaly, but the trend seems too long for just a coincidence. So far they are 1-5 this year in games against those pitchers, including a 5-0 loss last night. I'll be live at the park tonight to see if Chicago's advance scouts have started doing their jobs yet.
Phil Rogers (Chicago Tribune) is one of my favorite baseball columnists, already providing a solid Sunday read, even in the current day of constant internet updates and 24/7 news. So, in a "slapping my own back" kind of way, I must point out that my 05/26/09 entry, five days earlier than Rogers' column was published yesterday, I spoke of the abnormal amount of winning and losing streaks this year. Specifically, I referenced streaks of six games or more. Right along the same vein, Rogers pointed out streaks of - yup - six games or more this year, and even followed suit by acknowledging teams with winning AND losing streaks, just as I did.
The point? If you like what you read in the Chicago Tribune, just come to The Commish Online and read it five days sooner! Kidding, of course.