A Suspended Milton Bradley Has Saved Chicago Baseball

[from The A.V. Club Chicago / September 22, 2009]

In response to the disparaging remarks he made over the weekend to the Daily Herald regarding the sorry state of his team and its fans, the Cubs announced Sunday that outfielder (and frequent troublemaker) Milton Bradley has been officially suspended for the remainder of the 2009 season. Although the man the Cubs once pegged to solve all their offensive woes earning indefinite benching sounds bad at first, The A.V. Club finds that Bradley, in his own way, has actually done a world of good with his departure.

White Sox fans have yet another reason to mock the Cubs

Besides inexplicable belief in the value of the so-called “grinder” and expecting ridiculous chains of coincidences to allow their floundering team into the playoffs, few things fuel the lifeblood of a Sox fan like seeing the enemy suffer. With Bradley effectively stealing the $9 million owed to him in 2010, all while turning the Cubs into even more of a league-wide laughingstock for having signed him in the first place, the disgraced outfielder gives cold comfort to a South Side fan base still rooting for an inferior team to pull off an impossible playoff run.

Alfonso Soriano will seem less terrible

His outbursts and generally low ability have made Bradley the easier target, but fellow Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has actually had an awful season and, with a $17 million salary, has given the team the worst return on its investment imaginable. Bradley’s .378 on-base percentage is laughably low for a guy making $7 million, but leadoff man Soriano’s .303 means 15 Cubs players are doing his job better than he is—even though only pitcher Carlos Zambrano makes more money. But by keeping quiet and not blaming his troubles on umpires, fans, and the media, Soriano’s poor play and season-ending surgery can go unnoticed and unscorned, while Bradley takes enough heat for both outfielders.

The job outlook for useless Cub outfielders just improved considerably

Less than one week ago, Brandon Guyer, Tyler Colvin, and Micah Hoffpauir were just the names of long-shot minor-league prospects reserved for blog talk and Cub fan message board postings. With Bradley’s exit for the season (and likely departure from the team), these three can now be looked at as the future of underperforming guardians of the Wrigley Field ivy. Is Guyer ready to forget how many outs there are? Can Colvin strike out with the bases loaded more often? Can Hoffpauir blame his fans for his low number of home runs? Bradley’s departure leaves some big shoes to fill—loud, unproductive shoes, but big shoes all the same.