The Milton shuffle

OUTFIELD MAKEOVER: Mike Wilson, Carlos Peguero to replace problem child Milton Bradley, struggling Ryan Langerhans

May 10, 2011 

In a move that seemed destined to happen, the Seattle Mariners ended their relationship with Milton Bradley by designating him for assignment Monday.

In another move, outfielder Ryan Langerhans was also designated for assignment. Mike Wilson and Carlos Peguero were recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to take their place on the 25-man roster and give the team a new look in the outfield.

Bradley’s tumultuous tenure in Seattle comes to an end far short of the limited expectations the team had for him. Bradley, 33, was hitting .218 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 28 games this season.

“We just felt that Milton was not part of our future and not part of our present,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “Therefore, the move was made.”

The Mariners have 10 days to trade, release or send Bradley, who is making $13 million this season, to the minors. It’s hard to imagine Seattle finding a trading partner and even harder to think Bradley will stay with the organization, given the weekend he just had.

He was ejected Friday in a heated dispute at home plate during a close game, his second dismissal in a span of seven days. He was so incensed at the call he had to be dragged off the field by manager Eric Wedge. He followed Friday night’s fireworks with questionable defensive plays in left field the next two games.

Couple that with his continued struggles at the plate (.313 on-base percentage, .356 slugging percentage) and it was time for him to go.

“It was just an issue where we evaluated where we are and we evaluated where we are going and the parts that we thought were going to be a part of this. In our estimation, he did not fit,” Zduriencik said. “You just get to the point where you decide to make calls, and that’s where we are at this weekend.”

Bradley is a career .271 hitter with 125 home runs since breaking in with Montreal in 2000. He has played for eight teams in the majors, including five in the past five seasons.

Overshadowed by the news about Bradley was the release of Langerhans.

The 31-year-old veteran was a non-roster invitee to spring training, but made the team because of his ability to play all three outfield positions and first base. He played 19 games, hitting .173 (9-for-52) with three home runs and six RBI.

Langerhans could still remain with organization. There’s a chance he could pass through waivers and be optioned to Tacoma.

The duo of Peguero and Wilson could bring some thump to the power-starved Mariners. Both put up solid numbers in the minor leagues and Zduriencik said the duo would likely be a “left-right combination” in left field.

“I hope this works for them,” Zduriencik said. “I hope they do well.”

This will be Wilson’s first trip to the big leagues in a 10-year career. He was a second-round draft pick by the Mariners in 2001. He has spent his entire career in the organization, even re-signing a minor league deal with Seattle in the offseason.

“He had some other opportunities and chose to come back here,” Zduriencik said. “We know that he has some real power. He’s a great young man. He’s a hard worker. He’s obviously paid his dues. He’s done everything the organization has asked of him.”

Wilson, who spent the first 22 games last season in Double-A, hit .273 in 88 games with Tacoma. He had a .364 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage.

He hit 12 doubles and 17 home runs with 56 RBI for the Pacific Coast League champions. In seven postseason games, he hit .353 (6-for-17) with three homers and seven RBI and was named MVP of the PCL championship series, hitting a homer in each game of a three-game sweep.

“He’s a power right-handed bat, which we need,” Zduriencik said.

He earned this chance with his play this season for the Rainiers, despite missing a week after injuring his shoulder. In 16 games, Wilson was hitting .381 (24-for-63) with a .429 OBP and .683 slugging percentage. He has seven doubles, four homers and 14 RBI.

“He had a chance to call his mother (on Sunday) and tell her that after all these years of toiling in the minor leagues, to tell her on Mother’s Day that he was going to the big leagues,” Zduriencik said.

Peguero will be making his second appearance with the Mariners. He was recalled April 19 when Justin Smoak went on the bereavement list. He appeared in five games (three starts), hitting .182 (2-for-11).

In Tacoma, Peguero was hitting .282 (29-for-103) with six doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI in 25 games.

Bradley played in parts of two seasons in Seattle, appearing in 101 games. He hit a combined .209 (72-for-345) with 15 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs and 42 RBI.

He missed games with a multitude of injuries.

He also missed games in 2010 to go to anger management counseling after leaving the stadium in the middle of game when he was benched by then-manager Don Wakamatsu.

The Mariners acquired Bradley before the 2010 season from the Cubs, trading pitcher Carlos Silva to Chicago in an exchange of massive contracts and equally massive baggage.

Bradley was coming off a horrible season in Chicago in which he clashed with fans, teammates and then-manager Lou Piniella and never lived up to the three-year, $30 million contract he signed before the 2009 season. It got to the point where he was asked to leave the team before the season ended.

Zduriencik and the Mariners hoped Bradley might return to his 2008 form with Texas. Bradley put up good numbers with the Rangers, hitting .321 with a .436 on-base percentage, 22 homers and 77 RBI, earning a spot on the American League All-Star team. The hope was that he could some how reproduce similar numbers in a new situation back in the American League West.

It didn’t happen. Bradley struggled with his hitting, his health and his temper – all problems that also prompted the Cubs to release Silva this spring.

“We were trading in essence contract for contract and in hopes it would work out for both clubs,” Zduriencik said. “At this point in time, it really hasn’t worked out for either club in the way either of us were hoping for.”

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483
ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com
blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners

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