No word Tuesday whether Oakland will be issuing batting helmets and other protective gear to season-ticket holders seated near the field, but with temperamental Milton Bradley on his way, the words "Heads up!" won't necessarily mean that a foul ball is screaming their way.
|In Milton Bradley, the A's receive an efficient batter, a solid outfielder -- and a headcase. (Getty Images)|
Yes, two weeks before Christmas, baseball's very own Grinch is coming to town, furrowed brow and all, taking a swing at his fourth organization in five years. And the only thing we can know for sure is that this probably won't be his last stop.
This is a perfect Oakland move: Identify a deeply talented player who lands on the sales rack because of some kind of flaw. Then, strike.
Oakland gets a highly productive player for an AL West title run in 2006; Bradley gets yet another chance at redemption.
"Certainly, it's a part of the history," Oakland general manager Billy Beane said of Bradley's myriad anger-management issues. "It also provided us the opportunity, is the way I'm looking at it.
"This will be a great environment and a good, competitive team. We've always had a very welcoming clubhouse, one the players have thrived in."
Really, it should be a nice and convenient fit for both sides.
The A's don't even need to give Bradley, 27, his own locker. All they need is an extra trash can in the corner, Oscar the Grouch-like.
Look, the guy can play. He hit .290 with 13 homers and 38 RBI in only 75 games for the Dodgers last summer in an injury-shortened season, and .267 with 19 homers and 67 RBI in 141 games for the Dodgers in '04. He's a very good outfielder; he'll probably play right field, with Nick Swisher moving to first, though he's capable enough to spell Mark Kotsay in center when Kotsay needs a break.
And if it's a short-term rental you're looking for, maybe get a year or two out of Bradley before he soils his own bed again, then hey, go ahead and pull back the covers. Particularly a mid-market team with a strict payroll like Oakland. It's how the A's survive.
But this is a deeply disturbed young man who was jettisoned from one organization -- Montreal -- when executives deemed, according to sources, that he couldn't get along with white people (among other problems); was moved from another organization -- Cleveland -- because he couldn't co-exist with an authority figure (manager Eric Wedge); and now has been traded away from Los Angeles, his hometown, because of his rage at teammate Jeff Kent.
Former Dodgers manager Jim Tracy implored him late last summer to keep his disagreements with Kent in-house -- Kent snarled at Bradley for not hustling enough and Bradley went ballistic, accusing Kent of having problems with African-Americans. But even though Bradley's relationship with Tracy was a good one, he ignored the manager's advice and blew up Kent publicly.