Bradley Traded to M’s for Silva

The Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs swapped undesired contracts on Friday, as the M’s acquired OF/DH Milton Bradley for RHP Carlos Silva. Bradley is owed a combined $21M for the 2010-2011 seasons, while Silva is set to rake in $25M ($11.5M each in 2010 and 2011, plus a $2M buyout on a $12M mutual option for 2012). Apparently, Seattle will kick in $9M, saving Chicago $5M in the transaction.

(salary figures courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.)

Silva (he of a career 4.48 xFIP and a recent rotator cuff injury) isn’t of much concern to fantasy owners. But what’s left of Milton Bradley’s game? Let’s try to find out.

Bradley, of course, had a turbulent tenure on the North Side. He didn’t perform up to expectations in 2009, though he’s probably not responsible for global warming, swine flu and the financial collapse, as some Chicago columnists would have you believe.

The switch-hitter has long been a quality offensive player. His career wRC+ is 120, meaning Bradley’s wOBA in the majors is 20 percent better than average, once we account for park and league factors. Milton was an absolute machine in 2007 and 2008, posting wRC+ figures of 155 and 160, respectively. 2008 was the best year of his career, as Bradley set personal bests in home runs (22), Isolated Power (.242) and walk rate (16.2%). It was also just the second time in his career that he topped the 500 PA mark.

While Bradley annihilated pitchers in Arlington, we shouldn’t have expected a repeat of his monstrous ’08 campaign. His BABIP was an absurd .396, highest among all hitters. Milton’s Expected BABIP, by contrast, was .334. Bradley’s 2007-2008 power outburst was also well above his established level: his combined ISO over those two seasons was .241, compared to .170 from 2004-2006.

In a “down” 2009 season, Bradley was still above average with the bat (108 wRC+). He remained extremely patient at the plate (14.4 BB%). His pop, however, got lost at the airport terminal:

Milton’s ISO dipped to .140, his lowest mark since a 2001 season split between Les Expos and the Indians. During his 2007-2008 power surge, Bradley hit ground balls 40.4% of the time, while putting the ball in the air 37 percent. In ’09, his groundball rate rose to about 47 percent, while his fly ball rate fell to 33.3 percent.

During his banner ’08 season, Bradley had a humongous batting average on ground balls (remember that MLB-leading BABIP?) In ’09, not so much:

Bradley’s Batting Average on Ground Balls

2008: .323 BAVG (.242 AL AVG)
2009: .200 BAVG (.240 AL AVG)
Bradley’s Career Average: .228

Though Bradley was able-bodied enough to take 473 trips to the plate in 2009, he was rarely healthy. He battled quad, groin, hamstring, hip and knee ailments. Milton’s propensity to get dinged up was exacerbated by the lack of the DH. All of those bumps and bruises have taken a toll on Bradley’s wheels:

Bradley’s Speed Score, 2005-2009
2005: 5.1
2006: 4.9
2007: 4.5
2008: 3.2
2009: 2.6

Back in the AL, Bradley will likely patrol left field, while getting to rest his achy knees at least occasionally at DH. What can we expect out of Milton in 2010? CHONE projects a .369 wOBA, while Bill James forecasts a .365 wOBA. Thus far, the Fans call for a .373 wOBA.

Granted, Safeco Field is not a hitter’s haven by any means. According to the 2010 Bill James Handbook, Safeco depressed run scoring by 6 percent compared to a neutral ball park from 2007-2009. He’s not going to a great environment to get his power stroke back (95 HR park factor for lefty batters, 91 for righty hitters).

Still, Bradley (32 in April) has superb on-base skills. With a mild bounce back in the power category (not to his ’07-08 glory days, but around his career .172 ISO), he could be a pretty nice pickup for the Mariners and fantasy players.




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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.

7 Responses to “Bradley Traded to M’s for Silva”

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  1. At least the cubs SAVED some money and added something, but sigh, wouldnt it have just been better to keep bradley who should bounce back? That high OBP will be missed…As a cubs fan, I wish we had him as our GM. Bradley’s xBABIP adjusted 2009 slash line was (assuming all additional hits would have been singles) .270/.390/.410 (.800 OPS). That’s BEFORE any rebounds in power. A 390 OBP with even lg avg power is something to fear.

    More info on Jack Z:
    http://gameofinches.blogspot.com/2009/12/mariners-new-direction.html

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  2. David Golebiewski says:

    I’m a pretty big fan of this deal from Seattle’s perspective. The club acquires a hitter who’s potentially quite useful for an exorbitantly-priced starter who, IF healthy, is a back-end starter. I’m extremely impressed with Seattle. Just a total 180 from a a few years ago.

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    • Definitely. M’s will rule 2010, but what are your views for the AL West come 2011 and 2012? By then the A’s farm system should culminate into one of baseball’s best teams (Carter, Fox, Taylor, Donaldson and maybe Daric Barton on the hitting side; Anderson, Cahill, and Michael Ynoa on the pitching staff, with plenty of above average guys in the pen)

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      • alskor says:

        I dont mean to overstate the losses of Figgins and Lackey, but I could easily see the Halos finishing last in those years. Everyone else has smart GMs, good or great farm systems and is getting better. The Angels are signing guys like Matsui. They can ill afford the Mike Soscia BS anymore – no more playing Mathis over Napoli or Izturis over Kendrick or anybody over Wood. That **** now has the potential to cripple them.

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  3. KY says:

    What do ya mean no one is interested in how Silva will do?! The Cubs fans want to know if they just saw 21 million for a problem-ed but very good player turn into 17 million and no player.

    And the deep leagues will look forward to a Carlos Silva/Tom Gorzelanny battle of who can be less bad.

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  4. The Ancient Mariner says:

    Your math is off on Silva’s contract. 11.5 + 11.5 = 23, + 2 = 25 — Silva is owed $25 million, not $24 million, and the net cost to the M’s is $5 million.

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  5. David Golebiewski says:

    My bad. It’s corrected-thanks.

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