The local MSM has been pretty adamant that the Rangers aren't interested in Milton Bradley -- no way, no how, at no price, and even though Ron Washington says he'd like Bradley back.
So I've assumed that was the end of that.
But one of the things we should have learned by now...this front office has never seen a decision it can't stop on a dime and reverse.
And according to T.R. Sullivan, Milton Bradley may be one of them:
The Rangers refuse to rule out the possibility of Milton Bradley coming back to Texas.
Club officials aren't expecting it to happen but it's something club officials are definitely talking about as they try to figure out a way to repair an offense that scored 115 less runs in 2009 than in 2008.
A month ago, it seemed impossible that the Rangers would bring back Bradley. Now there seems some hemming and hawing.
What does this mean? It may be that the Rangers think the impact on the clubhouse will be less than had been previously feared.
I think as much as anything, though, it is that Jon Daniels and Ron Washington know that 2010 can't be 2005 all over again. The Rangers are going to have a hard time maintaining their credibility if, on the heels of a breakthrough year, and with the team seemingly on the verge of being a serious contender, they just sit back, make no moves to improve the team, and hope things break their way.
I think the front office has looked at the options that are out there and figured out that for what the Rangers need -- a legit middle of the order bat who can DH, maybe play a COF spot in a pinch, get on base, and not require a heavy lengthy commitment -- Bradley is the best available choice.
Last season, I think there was a belief that you could hope to go into 2010 with Chris Davis and Justin Smoak as your 1B and DH options. With Davis's flameout in the first half of 2009 raising serious questions about his ability to contribute at the major league level, and with Smoak struggling initially in AAA -- along with Josh Hamilton being useless in 2009 -- you don't have that luxury anymore. You can't sit back and hope a Matt Stairs-type vet, or Smoak, or Max Ramirez, will stumble into contributing at the DH spot.
And you certainly can't do that on the heels of the 2009 season, with people expecting the Rangers to take a step forward, not a step backwards. A step backwards in 2010, with new ownership in place and heightened expectations, likely would cost some folks their jobs.
So it makes sense that the Board Game option is back on the table, and the Rangers would be looking at bringing him in if the Cubs ate the bulk of his salary. It allows you to start Justin Smoak in AAA, potentially start Julio Borbon in AAA, and bring those guys up when they are ready to grab a job, not stick them in the lineup because you don't have any other choice.
If it isn't Bradley, it is going to have to be somebody, because this team can't afford to go into 2010 with its offensive game plan being, let's hope Chris Davis and Josh Hamilton get back on track.