Milton Bradley and Eric Wedge clashed numerous times while in Cleveland in 2003 and 2004, leading to Bradley being traded by the Indians, and now that they’re together again in Seattle it seemed inevitable that the Mariners would try to deal the oft-disgruntled outfielder as well.
However, shortly after Wedge was hired last month Bradley said he was “over it” and willing to work with Wedge again, and general manager Jack Zduriencik recently told Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse that Bradley is being given a “clean slate” on his various issues:
That’s water over the dam. That was several years ago. He and Eric talked since Eric got the job. They are both grown men. They are both pros. They will turn the page and move on and play baseball.
First of all, since when is “water over the dam” a thing people say?
Secondly, I’m still very skeptical. The problems Bradley and Wedge had in Cleveland weren’t exactly minor issues. Wedge pulled Bradley from a spring training game, Bradley wore a “F*** Eric Wedge” shirt around the clubhouse, and the Indians banned Bradley from their spring training complex.
My guess is that the Mariners would love to move Bradley, if they could. Instead he’s coming off the worst season of his career that included a .205 batting average and injuries, and the number of teams interested in him was fairly limited even when he was playing well. Bradley and Wedge co-existing seems awfully unlikely, but when the alternative is simply eating the $12 million remaining on Bradley’s contract the Mariners probably figure they might as well give it a shot.
Three weeks after hiring Eric Wedge as their new manager the Mariners announced his coaching staff:
Hitting coach: Chris Chambliss
Pitching coach: Carl Willis
Bench coach: Robbie Thompson
First base coach: Mike Brumley
Third base coach: Jeff Datz
Bullpen coach: Jaime Navarro
Willis served as interim pitching coach after the Mariners cleaned house at midseason and previously held the same job under Wedge in Cleveland, so keeping him on board was a no-brainer.
Chambliss beat out Milt Thompson and Leon Durham for the hitting coach gig. Daren Brown lost out to Wedge after serving as interim manager down the stretch, but is expected to remain in the organization as the skipper at Triple-A.
Hired as the Mariners’ new manager yesterday, Eric Wedge’s ugly history with Milton Bradley from their time together with the Indians in 2003/2004 seemingly makes it unlikely that they’ll be asked to co-exist again in Seattle.
That may prove true–Wedge hasn’t even been officially introduced to the local media yet–but in the meantime Larry Stone of the Seattle Times reports that after hearing about Wedge’s hiring yesterday Bradley did his best to clear the air by text messaging the following note to an unnamed member of the Mariners organization:
Whatever took place was six or seven years ago and I’m over it. He was a disciplinarian and I felt our team lacked discipline last year. Hopefully, he instills some of that.
That’s nice and all, but coming from a guy who’s worn out his welcome with seven different teams and engaged in some pretty serious insubordination against Wedge the first time around … well, it doesn’t carry much weight.
Stone suggests that “perhaps this marriage can work the second time around” but I’d certainly bet against Bradley and Wedge being in the same dugout come Opening Day.
Now that Eric Wedge has been hired as the Mariners’ new manager Milton Bradley’s odds of playing a second season in Seattle are seemingly extremely slim. That is if they weren’t extremely slim already, of course.
Back in 2003 the Indians had Wedge as their manager and Bradley as their center fielder, and while the team wasn’t very good Bradley had one of the best seasons of his career, hitting .321/.421/.501 in 101 games.
He also reportedly clashed with Wedge on numerous occasions and their poor relationship boiled over the next spring when Wedge pulled Bradley from a spring training game for failing to run out a pop up that dropped for a hit. Bradley was barred from the Indians’ spring training complex after reportedly wearing a t-shirt in the clubhouse that read “F*** Eric Wedge” and was traded to the Dodgers a short time later.
In other words, Eric Wedge knows all about life with Milton Bradley and I can’t imagine he wants to re-live the 2003/2004 experience at his new job. Of course, the Mariners’ ability to get rid of Bradley is another issue. They have him in the first place because they agreed take him back from the Cubs in exchange for Carlos Silva’s bloated contract last offseason and since then Bradley turned in the worst year of his career, hitting .205/.292/.348 in 73 games.
He had essentially zero value–and perhaps even negative value–last offseason, so after a terrible, injury filled year the Mariners may be forced to simply cut him loose and eat the $12 million he’s owed in 2011. If they can get anything for him, or even swap him for another bad contract, general manager Jack Zduriencik and company would no doubt jump at the chance. Anything short of that would be setting Wedge up for trouble from Day 1.
Seattle decided to hire Eric Wedge as its new manager last week, but no official announcement was made because MLB generally frowns on teams overshadowing playoff games with that type of thing.
However, according to Jim Street of MLB.com “the Mariners have received permission from the commissioner’s office to announce the hiring” and could make things official as soon as today, with a press conference slated for tomorrow.
Wedge is expected to get a three-year contract and will likely retain at least one member of the Mariners’ current coach staff in pitching coach Carl Willis, who served as Wedge’s pitching coach for seven years in Cleveland. Wedge had a 561-573 (.495) as the Indians’ manager and was fired after going 65-97 in 2009.
UPDATE: It’s official now.