Bradley's Second Half

July 16, 2009 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

It's no secret that Cubs management and fans have had their fill of "Milton Bradley Drama" during the first half of the 2009 campaign. Whether he's bumping umpires, smashing Gatorade coolers, or leaving the ballpark mid-game, no one can say that they're surprised by his behavior. However, even the most stringent Bradley cynic would have a hard time arguing that he wasn't starting to put things together in the last ten games or so leading up to the All-Star break.

We all remember how Bradley was crushing everything in sight in Spring Training. So what switch flipped off when the season started? Was it really as simple as letting go of Gerald Perry and promoting Von Joshua as the Cubs hitting coach? Well, from what the Joe Morgans of the world tell me, yes, it's possible. Even bloody likely. Bradley has always had a great eye in the batter's box, which has been proven throughout his career by a solid .371 lifetime OBP (.436 last season). Maybe he picked up some bad habits, combined with his natural tendency to press too hard and his April leg injury. So let's push all that out of our minds. What's done is done, and no one can honestly attribute the team's position in the NL Central standings to Bradley alone. Pairing him up for extra sessions in the batting cage with Joshua has seemed to help, as was evident through the latest series with the Cardinals.

So what does Lou do with Bradley from here on out? Everyone will point to Milton's poor home run and RBI totals thus far and claim that he's not producing. So what? The man specializes in getting on base, not hitting the ball out of the park. He's only hit over 20 home runs once in his ten year career. Hendry knew that going into the contract negotiations. As it stands right now, Bradley is getting on base at the same clip as guys such as Mark Teixeira, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Bay.

For what it's worth (likely nothing), I would try batting Bradley in the two-hole behind Fukudome when facing a righty. You want your first two batters getting on base for Lee and Ramirez. Theriot is a fine hitter, with a solid average, but he may be more valuable hitting seventh when Soto is healthy. Granted, Bradley is probably not as adept as Theriot at laying down a bunt, much less running one out. However, if Fukudome and Bradley are drawing walks, as is their M.O., then you're putting your team in the best possible position to score, and score early. It seems like sound logic, or at least it wouldn't hurt to try out for a series. Piniella is always tinkering with the lineup anyway.

Thoughts from the readers?