Cubs’ problem becomes Mariners’ project

The Cubs got rid of their worst contract. The Mariners got rid of

theirs. How could something so obvious take so long to complete?

The answer, of course, is that Milton Bradley is involved.

And nothing is simple or straightforward when Milton Bradley is

involved.

That said, fans of both teams should be happy with the trade

of Bradley for Carlos Silva, first reported by Larry Stone of the

Seattle Times. Bradley no longer fit into the Cubs’

plans. Silva no longer fit into the Mariners’ plans. The

terms of their contracts were similar. Let’s make a deal.

At his best, each player fills a need for his new team.

Seattle needs run production, and Bradley is a switch hitter with

power. (Aren’t you curious to find out what position he will

play?) Chicago needs another rotation arm, with Ted Lilly set to

miss the start of the season, and Silva may find his way again in

the National League.

What if Bradley misbehaves? The Mariners can release him.

What if Silva can’t pitch anymore? The Cubs can release

him.

From a public relations/explain-this-to-your-owner

standpoint, it’s easier to part with someone else’s bad

investment than your own. This trade will enable the general

managers involved — Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners, Jim Hendry of

the Cubs — to do that in the worst-case scenario.

But here’s the thing: Maybe Seattle will become

Bradley’s best-case scenario, a place (like Texas) where he

feels loved and supported. Maybe a return to the American League

West will help him produce like he did in 2008, when he led the

league in OPS and made the All-Star team.

Bradley will have every reason to succeed with the Mariners:

The upbeat Don Wakamatsu, who inspired great loyalty among players

in his first season with Seattle, will be his manager. Bradley will

be back on the West Coast, where he was born and still resides. He

should enjoy Seattle, a smaller town with understanding and

compassionate fans.

What’s the line? If Milton can’t make it there,

he can’t make it anywhere.

Now the Mariners have a new project for Ken Griffey Jr., the

Hall of Fame-bound part-time player/ambassador/clubhouse sheriff.

To his credit, Griffey understood that part of his role with the

’09 team was to become a merry prankster and put his

teammates at ease. He did that.

Bradley will be his next task, one that will require plenty

of time and attention. If it is possible to put Bradley in the

right frame of mind at the ballpark, I suspect the Kid will find a

way.

Bradley imagined bogeymen among the Chicago media when they

didn’t exist, which made for a lousy experience for a lot of

people associated with the ’09 Cubs. Now that’s over.

The gentler Silva, who had his greatest career success in the

midwest (Minnesota), will be a much better fit.

And they’ll really love him at Wrigley if he can become

the reliable sinkerballer he once was. But he has allowed a .410

batting average to opponents in the Venezuelan Winter League, so

I’m not sure how realistic that would be.

Who knows? At the very least, maybe Silva can help settle

down countryman Carlos Zambrano.

All right, all right. Let’s not get too carried away.