Let that sink in for a minute.
Milton Bradley, a 33-year-old corner outfielder with 125 career homers and 481 RBI, is making $12 million this year.
Credit Cubs GM Jim Hendry, who gave Bradley a three-year, $30 million contract after the biggest season of his career.
Even though Bradley was viewed by most as a head-case with major anger issues.
Even though Bradley was terribly injury prone.
Even though the one team that Bradley had played for that seemed to have no real problem with him and for which he had just enjoyed his career year and had the DH spot available for him wasn’t interested in offering him anything more than a one-year deal.
(That would be Texas.)
Three years and $30 million for a player who just a year previously had his season ended when he blew out his knee while being restrained by his manager so that he wouldn’t go after an umpire.
If Bradley is done as a major leaguer — and given the way he’s played since joining the Mariners, he may well be — he’ll leave the game tied with Michael Tucker and Tito Francona, among others, for 550th place on the all-time home run list. He wouldn’t even crack the top 1,000 in RBI or runs scored.
That’s an awful lot of ink spilled and money spent on a guy who only occasionally proved to be worth the hassle.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.