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Cubs Quiet at Winter Meetings

By Garrett Monaghan

If you were to judge by the amount of laughter surrounding Jim Hendry this past week, you'd think the Cubs GM was the funniest guy at the Winter Meetings. Unfortunately, this might have been a case of people laughing at Big Jim rather than with him. Hendry failed to secure a deal to move Milton Bradley, and didn't seem to impress any potential trade partners with his offers.

Failing to deal Bradley during the Winter Meetings is hardly a disaster in and of itself. The yearly meetings are used as a springboard for deals later in the off-season as much as anything else. What I'm a little concerned about is how close to the vest Hendry seems to be playing his effort to deal Bradley. The Cubs have virtually no leverage in any deal involving Bradley, yet Hendry appears to be behaving as if he actually has a valuable commodity to trade.

On more than one occasion in the last week, Hendry commented on "several" teams being interested in Bradley, and on at least one occasion seemed to indicated that a deal was less than 24 hours away. Nothing, noticeably the mystery suitors, materialized. The few public offers that surfaced (Bradley for Mike Lowell, and Bradley for Luis Castillo) were publicly derided by the Red Sox and Mets respectively. At least one reporter publicly, and somewhat tastelessly, asked Hendry if the Cubs had any offers for Bradley from the Negro Leagues. Bradley went into the Winter Meetings having been voted the player most likely to be dealt (by the attendees themselves, no less) and came out looking less desirable than a case of the plague.

It should be clear to all parties involved by now that moving Bradley is going to require the Cubs to either get really creative. Personally, I still think the Cubs should just cut him loose. Failing that, however, their best bet is to find a team that's never even heard of Milton Bradley, and try to work out a deal from there. At this point, if the Cancun Ospreys of the Yucatan League offered the Cubs a timeshare in exchange for Bradley, Hendry would probably listen.

The bigger issue with failing to line up an offer for Bradley is that until the Cubs know how much of his contract they'll have to eat, their hands are tied when it comes to making any other significant moves. Hendry has said he's interested in acquiring another reliever and a center fielder, but he'll likely be unable to do either until he can move Bradley.

I just hope the Cubs didn't burn any bridges this past week, because moving Bradley is only going to get harder and more critical the later into the winter we go. But hey, we might get lucky. The Medellin Narcacitos of the Colombian Drug Leagues might need a right fielder. I'd suggest shipping Milton to the UFC, but they probably only want people who can hit something now and then.

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