There are three things fantasy baseball owners can always count on: Milton Bradley going on the disabled list, Bradley getting suspended, and Bradley hitting reasonably well on those odd occasions when he is on the field.
It might be time to count on a fourth certainty from Bradley.
Baseball's hottest hothead, its baddest of the bad boys, its champion of temper tantrums, has done it again. No, he did not tear another ACL arguing with an umpire or chase after an announcer that badmouthed him.
He was taken out of a game and then told to go home by Chicago Cubs manager Lou Pinella after a tirade that even made Carlos Zambrano sweat.
Bradley missing parts of games or seasons is not news to fantasy owners. This is as routine as the sun shining during the day and the moon glowing at night.
Bradley has always been the anti-Ripken. He has never met a muscle he has not pulled.
He makes you cringe when he does not run out a ground ball, yet he makes you cringe MORE when he does run out a grounder, because you fear he might pop a hamstring or tear a testicle.
Bradley has been in the majors since 2000. You know how many seasons he has appeared in 150 games? Zero. 140 games? Once (141 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a year where he was caught stealing 11 out of 26 times!).
In fact, when Bradley played in a meager 126 games for Texas last season, that was the second-healthiest season of his career. Somebody tell Santa to bring Bradley a carton of milk and a case of multi-vitamins for Christmas this year, will ya?
But fantasy owners and major-league clubs have lived with Bradley’s penchant for injuries and nuclear meltdowns, at least for short spurts, because the guy can hit.
Last year his .321 batting average, .436 on-base percentage and .999 OPS made him one of the top hitters in the American League and garnered him his three-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs.
The problem now is Bradley is not hitting like he did last year. He has a .236 average, .351 OBP and .725 OPS, and he has been lifeless lately (no homers, two RBI this month). This buffoon is the walking advertisement for the "June Swoon."
If you are a fantasy owner that has above-average intelligence, you should never, EVER have Bradley on your fantasy roster.
I do not care if it is an NL-only league or even a Chicago-only league. Bradley can be trusted about as much as John Edwards, Vince McMahon, or the shell game hustler on the corner.
Bradley will always find a way to get himself hurt and will constantly make you wonder whether or not to use him in your lineup, because most of his injuries are those nagging day-to-day types where he could miss a day, a week or go on the disabled list for a month.
And look hard at Bradley's numbers. Is he worth all the aggravation? He only has one 20-HR season and one 17-SB season to his credit.
His career batting average is .277. He’s never topped the 80-run or 80-RBI plateau in all these years with all these teams. Why would a fantasy owner (let alone the Cubs) put up with his daily nonsense?
You want Bradley on your fantasy team? OK, enjoy him. If that's the case you are either the most patient person in the world, the dumbest person in the world, or someone who wants to prove he/she can win his/her fantasy league in spite of Bradley.
Hitting and Running
Hitting and Running
Here are two pitchers rebounding from god-awful starts to the season:
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins:
Someone pat me on the back and buy me a drink! I predicted in this column three weeks ago that Nolasco should be picked up in fantasy leagues because he had straightened out the mechanical problems that led to a 9.07 ERA early on thanks to a short stint in the minors.
Nolasco has been a totally different pitcher since returning from Triple-A, although he looks just like he did during the second half of 2008 when he was one of the top starters in the National League.
Since re-entering Florida’s rotation, Nolasco has a 2.88 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over a four-start span. Look for his numbers to improve, too. Nolasco’s next two starts are home against Washington and Pittsburgh.
Luke Hochevar, Royals:
This kid was not the first overall pick in the 2006 draft because he throws 85 mph and has the accuracy of Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams.
Hochevar has tools, and although Kansas City has seemingly stunted the growth of many of its "future stars" and "can’t miss prospects" in the past (Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, countless others ...), and has done the same with Hochevar (career 8-16 record, 5.87 ERA), it seems like the phenom is turning the corner.
Hochevar, like Nolasco, has come back from a minor-league vacation and begun throwing like the ace he is capable of becoming. During a four-start stretch he pitched great at Toronto and Houston (four ER in 13.2 innings) and twirled a complete-game three-hitter at home against Cincinnati.
Do not be surprised if Hochevar pulls a Zack Greinke and becomes K.C.'s second-best starter from here on out, although he still needs to miss more bats (16 strikeouts in 38.1 innings).