Milton Bradley has played just seven games for the Mariners, yet manager Don Wakamatsu has already had a pair of sit-downs with the troubled outfielder.
Wakamatsu met with Bradley after he flipped off the crowd in Texas last week and they had a late-night, closed-door session yesterday to talk about his 1-for-22 start to the season. Here’s how Wakamatsu described last night’s chat:
We talked about not fueling the fire, and relying on your teammates to help you out. That’s what we’re focusing on right now. There are going to be people looking for him and I understand that, but lead by example. I think he’s found a comfort level with this ball club, and doesn’t want to let his teammates down. A lot of fans don’t realize he cares sometimes too much about his performance, and what he’s supposed to be bringing to this club.
Either that or he’s just nuts.
Bradley should eventually get on track offensively, because he’s been an above-average hitter in each of the past seven years and bounced back from a similarly slow start with the Cubs last year to hit .271/.385/.412 in his final 113 games. However, his defense has been absolutely brutal in left field so far and that seems unlikely to change at age 32.
And of course the fact that he’s playing for his eighth team in 11 seasons and has had incidents at every previous stop isn’t simply a matter of “caring too much about his performance.” Still, if he hits something close to his .276/.370/.448 career mark and keeps the incidents to a minimum things will be just fine in Seattle. Unfortunately for the Mariners, history suggests that if Bradley’s slow start continues much longer the issues may begin to snow ball.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network said yesterday that the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs have been engaged in trade talks involving starting pitcher Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila. Morosi also noted that the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown interest in Verlander as well. Whether this is idyl chitchatting of serious dispute is unclear, of course. Everything is unclear in the leadup to the deadline.
The veteran right-hander is carrying a 4.50 with a 120/57 K/BB ratio over 124 innings. Verlander impressed last year, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award balloting, but he has fallen back to Earth in 2017. His velocity remains high, however, and it’s not hard to imagine him going on a solid run in a way that could help a contender. He is owed $56 million over the next two seasons, however, and has a $22 million option that could vest for 2020, so negotiations for him could be tough. If the Tigers want talent back, they’ll have to eat salary.
Verlander got an ovation from a Detroit crowd last night which seemed to sense that, yes, it’s possible he pitched his last game for the Tigers. Given that he has 10/5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade, that decision is ultimately up to him. It’s not hard to imagine him accepting a trade to a contender, however.
We wait see.
The Dodgers beat the Twins last night thanks to a Cody Bellinger three-run homer. But Bellinger was not the only Dodgers rookie who had a notable game. A far more unconventional one is worth mentioning as well.
That rookie is reliever Edward Paredes, who made his big league debut last night. What makes him unconventional: he’s 30. Turns 31 in September, actually. Paredes pitched professionally for 12 years before making it to The Show. Most of that time was in the affiliated minors in the Mariners, Indians, Angels and Dodgers organizations. He spent time in the independent Atlantic League in 2013-15 as well.
Paredes did not do anything heroic last night. It was more of a right place/right time kind of appearance, retiring the side in order with a fly out, line out and a ground out and remaining the pitcher of record while Bellinger hit that three-run homer. That’s enough for a W, though. A W that Paredes waited a lot longer for than most pitchers who notch one in the bigs.