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Paradise Lost?

2003/08/05

While we’re on the subject of Milton (Bradley, that is), what is TribeScribe to make of the persistent trade rumors surrounding our breakout centerfielder in the days leading up to last Thursday’s deadline?

Is Mark Shapiro batshit insane?

Apparently not, though Larry Dolan may or may not have talked him out of an irresistable deal for MB.

While it’s true that the injuries and/or ineffectiveness of Vizquel, Lawton, Burks and Gutierrez left Bradley as the Tribe’s most desirable commodity, what is there not to like about the guy? He’s 25, plays a mean CF and has developing power and speed.

Maturity issues? Pah! To that I have only two words to say: Albert. Belle. Bradley may never hit 50/50 like Albert, but in this season of failed promise he’s the best we’ve got.

Call me a pessimist, but things haven’t been so rosy for all the talent the Tribe has in the pipeline.

As chronicled here last month, Brandon Phillips’ first taste of the big leagues was a sour one. Since being demoted to Buffalo, Phillips has actually found a way to hit worse.

Travis Hafner’s wrist injury has kept him from showing the power he did last year in Oklahoma. I have to wonder if this is a recurrence of the injury he suffered in winter ball, which was initially rumored to be just an excuse to bring him back home and give him some rest. Perhaps it was worse than initially reported?

Victor Martinez took several months in AAA to regain the stroke that made him the best catching prospect in baseball, yet seems to have left it in Buffalo since being promoted.

Josh Bard made a regular out of Tim Laker for the first time in his career.

Jody Gerut has been a nice story, but still may not amount to anything more than a fourth outfielder. (And still, Jacob Cruz for Gerut/Bard will rank as one of John Hart’s best trades.)

And God, the pitchers! Jeremy Guthrie is fooling no one, Brian Tallet is headed for the knife, Ricardo Rodriguez flamed out, Jason Davis continues to baffle and frustrate. Cliff Lee failed to make the rotation due to a spring injury.

In short, the vaunted prospects have failed thus far to establish themselves in the major leagues. Dealing Bradley before any other impact players have emerged would be shooting ourselves in the foot. The whole dang raison d’etre of a rebuilding team is to develop prospects into impact players and contributors who can be on the cheap during their pre-arbitration-eligible years.

Milton Bradley is the first of hopefully many to blossom and has an excellent chance to be part of the next good Indians team. Trading him now for more prospects would be an admission by Mark Shapiro that the timeline to contention has been pushed back.

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