A deal on Milton Bradley? You're buying a lemon

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The Chicago Cubs are eager to get rid of Milton Bradley. That much is clear.

And here is Jim Hendry’s pitch to potential trade partners (as imagined by yours truly):

Milton Bradley is a fine young man who is generally misunderstood. He has a wealth of talent, much of it as yet untapped. Just look at his career line of .277/.371/.450! Who couldn’t use that on their team? I know there was some controversy surrounding him in Chicago this past season but I’ll tell you how I’m going to help you forget about that: I’m going to eat half of the remaining $21 million left on his contract. Just for you, because I like you. How’s that sound for a deal? Are you ready to sign? *Pulls out pen*

Hendry’s used-car pitch is apparently effective. There have been rumors of a trade in the works with Toronto, as Matthew detailed earlier today. And the Rangers, obviously remembering Bradley’s league-leading .999 OPS in 2008, have shown interest in bringing him back.

Enter Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, who makes a point-by-point plea for the Rangers to avoid such temptation.

Grant mentions the poor 2009 season Bradley had in Chicago, and his durability issues (124 games in 2009, 126 in 2008), but things get even more interesting when the author gets into chemistry issues.

Bradley said after signing with the Cubs that he didn’t play in some selected games with the Rangers down the stretch in 2008 to protect his statistics in order to put himself in the best negotiating position. The Rangers have harped on a team-first approach as a big rallying cry for the 2010 season. There is no way that Bradley’s comments and actions can be viewed as anything but selfish.

I hadn’t heard that story before, but from everything I’ve seen about Bradley, it’s hardly surprising. Wherever he goes, Bradley makes himself the centerpiece story. He never shies from telling everyone how the world is out to get him, or how he has been wronged in some way.

It has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. With 10 big-league seasons under his belt, Bradley does get ripped frequently, sometimes unfairly. But when you spend your career going on self-indulgent diatribes, hurling things at fans, throwing temper tantrums, trying to charge press boxes, and insulting your fan base, you’re going to get a lot less slack from fans and writers alike.

So if you’re the Blue Jays, Rangers, or any other team sniffing out a potential bargain in Milton Bradley, don’t be fooled by Hendry’s spin. And think long and hard about what kind of presence you want in your clubhouse and on your roster.

Remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Astros vs. Dodgers is a match made in heaven

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A lot of people who work at the league office or who take paychecks from the Fox network probably wanted to see the Yankees and the Cubs in the World Series. They won’t admit it, of course, but I suspect that many did, as the ratings for a Cubs-Yankees Series might’ve broken modern records. If they are at all disappointed by the Astros and Dodgers winning the pennant, however, they should let that go because they’ve been gifted by a wonderful matchup from a purely baseball perspective. Indeed, it’s one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve had in the Fall Classic in many years.

Before the Dodgers went on their late-August, early-September swoon, this was the potential World Series pairing most folks who know a thing or two wanted to see. At least I did, and I don’t think I was alone. It was certainly the matchup which represented the teams with the two best regular season records and storylines at the time. While Cleveland ended up winning more games than Houston did, for the first time since 1970 we have a World Series pitting two 100-win teams against each other.

Like that Orioles-Reds series in 1970, which featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and a host of other All-Stars, the Dodgers-Astros provide us with an embarrassment of big names and future Hall of Famers. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Astros DH/OF Carlos Beltran are destined for induction already. Astros ace Justin Verlander may very well join them, especially if his late 2017 surge is evidence of a second career peak. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve‘s first seven years and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen‘s first eight are the stuff upon which Cooperstown resumes are made as well. People will be arguing Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley‘s Hall of Fame case for years once he retires.

Youth is served as well in this matchup, with each club featuring a handful of the game’s best young players to accompany their big name veteran stars.

The Dodgers will bat their no-doubt N.L. Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger second or third in the lineup every game. 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who sat out the NLCS with a bad back, is expected to be activated for the Series where he’ll be the Dodgers shortstop. The Astros are actually an old team on paper — Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, starter Charlie Morton, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Josh Reddick and DH Evan Gattis are all over 30 while Beltran is 40 — but young players are essential to their attack as well. Shortstop Carlos Correa just turned 23 and he’s one of the game’s brightest stars. Third baseman Alex Bregman, also 23, made the play that may very well have broken the Yankees’ back during Saturday night’s pennant clincher. Age aside, the Astros are the product of a major, multi-year rebuild and many of their players are making their first national splash this postseason.

Beyond just the names and resumes, though, the Dodgers and Astros represent a fantastic strategic matchup. The Dodgers attack this postseason has featured admirable plate discipline, with third baseman Justin Turner, right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor all letting balls out of the zone pass them by while abusing pitches left out over the plate. Astros pitchers not named Justin Verlander, however, have lived by getting the opposition to chase bad balls. Game one starter Dallas Keuchel did this by relying on his very fast sinker. Lance McCullers pitched well starting Game 4 of the ALCS and pitched spectacularly closing out the final four innings of Game 7 mostly by virtue of his curveball, which Yankees pitchers could simply not lay off. Indeed, his final 24 pitches of Game 7 were all curves, many of them low and away. Who will give in first in this series?

On the side of things, Dodgers relievers have made a living by pumping in strikes. Particularly strikes high in the zone from Jansen and Brandon Morrow. There may be no better fastball hitter in all of baseball than Jose Altuve, however, and the team as a whole was one of the best in the bigs in dealing with gas in the zone. This was a big reason why the Astros struck out less than any team in baseball this year while simultaneously boasting the best offense in the game. The Dodgers throw strikes. The Astros make you pay when you throw them strikes. Again, something’s gotta give.

Maybe the suits in New York wanted the Yankees and Cubs. But everyone else is getting exactly what we want: a matchup of the two best teams in the game. A matchup of strength against strength. What is, from a purely baseball perspective, the best World Series we could’ve possibly hoped for.