September 20, 2009
A losing general manager usually waits until the final week of the season to issue his postmortem and reveal his thoughts on what went wrong.
Jim Hendry apparently couldn't wait that long.
In a move that was long overdue and basically admitted to making a giant mistake in signing Milton Bradley(notes), the Chicago GM suspended the always angry right fielder for the rest of the season and said he wasn't sure if the situation was "fixable" for the remaining two seasons on Bradley's three-year, $30 million contract.
Though Bradley had written his share of controversial headlines this season — from being sent home early by Lou Piniella during a game against the White Sox to accusing Cubs fans of racism — it took some negative comments made by Bradley to the Daily Herald on Saturday for Hendry to finally write out a bus ticket on Sunday.
Saying that he needs a "stable, healthy, enjoyable environment," Bradley told Daily Herald reporter Bruce Miles that there was too much "negativity" surrounding the Cubs and that "you understand why they haven't won in 100 years here."
Actually, the drought is now almost 101 years and it's more due to questionable front-office decisions like enlisting players with a poodle's mental fortitude to play in Wrigley Field's media pressure cooker, but other than that, Bradley was right on the money.
"I just decided late last night that's what I was going to do, and I didn't give it a lot of thought what's going to transpire moving forward. I just felt like it was time to do this."
The funny part — or not-so-funny part, if you're Hendry or a Cubs fan — is that the GM might have said the same thing during the press conference that welcomed Bradley to Chicago last offseason. The short-sighted signing has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster for the disappointing Cubs and, given the subsequent piling-on by Bradley's teammates, it's hard to think that the team has any other option than to cut ties. Really, if any team is willing to deal with Bradley's shenanigans, Bradley will come cheaper than a part-time bullpen catcher.
That decision to ditch Bradley will be made in the fast-approaching offseason, but it remains to be seen if Hendry will be the one making it. Though he made the right move in finally laying down the law with Bradley, it'll be an entirely different challenge to explain to the new Cubs' owners why they're writing out $20 million worth of checks to a player who tantrummed his way out of Wrigleyville. That Hendry made this move really speaks to his lack of options and just how big of a clubhouse cancer Bradley had become.
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