Today the Indians divested themselves of their mercurial young star, Milton Bradley, trading him to the Dodgers for minor-leaguer Franklin Gutierrez and a player to be named.
Both GMs can hold their heads high: Mark Shapiro got a great young prospect (#22 in BA) for a player the Indians had already promised to trade, and Paul DePodesta got the live bat that everyone was expecting since he took over. The deal looks good for both teams on paper.
However, that was just a happy byproduct of not-too-nifty management on both sides of the deal. I have already stated that the Indians botched the Bradley situation by allowing it to get too out of hand too publicly. They had already sent Bradley to the minor-league camp thereby reducing his trade value.
The Dodgers can feel happy that they got Bradley to replace the anemic Dave Roberts in center. But for them to give up a highly touted prospect for a player whose value should have been reduced. Consider also that Bradley looked tremendous last year but it was over only two-thirds of the season and that in parts of three seasons prior to 2003, his stats are hovering around replacement level.
This was a deal of desperation: The Indians were desperate to get something, anything, for the disavowed player and the Dodgers were desperate for a hitter, any hitter. With all the talk of the Mets, it was logical that Bradley go to the Dodgers were his value would be highest (according to Coase).
Both teams could get burned on this deal. It is not inconceivable that Bradley could fail in LA. His 2003 could have been a fluke. His personality could overwhelm his talent. Heck, he is playing in the worst hitter's park in baseball after all. Gutierrez has barely had a cup of coffee in Double-A. If Bradley continues to hit like he did last year and Gutierrez tanks, it will be a very black eye for the Tribe. Oh well, both teams can always go back and say it looked good on paper.