A Split Decision?

By Steve Kelley
Updated: December 19, 2009

Milton Bradley

Milton Bradley

SEATTLE — Rarely can two teams do what the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs did Friday.

Rarely can two teams make a deal that is cause for celebration in both cities.

Rarely can they swap migraines and have their entire populations feeling better.

But the M’s and Cubs pulled this off.

The Mariners traded Carlos Silva, the one-time, would-be, rotund savior of their rotation, and $6 million (that’s how desperate they were) for the switching-hitting menace who is outfielder Milton Bradley.

This was a feel-good trade for two players who had made their cities feel so bad.

It was an Advil deal. It was like trading a root canal for a punch in the mouth. One team’s damaged goods, traded for another’s.

And now, finally, with left-hander Erik Bedard nontendered and right-hander Silva traded, we finally can bid a foul farewell to the Bill Bavasi Era. He can’t hurt us anymore.

This trade is just another reason to celebrate Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik’s arrival in Seattle.

Sure, Bradley is a vial of nitroglycerin suddenly sitting in the finally tranquil Mariners clubhouse.

Sure, Bradley sometimes has trouble with numbers, like last season when he caught Joe Mauer’s fly ball in right field, with runners on base, and tossed the ball into the stands.

If there had been three outs, instead of two, Bradley would have been hailed as a hero, a man of the people. He probably still would be a Cubbie.

Instead, it cost the Cubs two runs and became the beginning of the end for Bradley in Chicago. He wasn’t exactly what Cubs fans thought they were getting in this three-year, $30 million deal.

Despite a career on-base percentage of .371, Bradley has traveled more than George Clooney in “Up In The Air.” The Mariners will be his eighth team in 10 years.

That’s what we call a red flag.

But Bradley is worth the gamble. If his head is right — a big if — he could be the steal of the winter.

And at this point in their resurrection, the Mariners are strong enough in the clubhouse that they should be able to absorb one volatile player. Maybe Bradley is incorrigible, but he will know, under manager Don Wakamatsu, that if he acts up, he is gone.

Seattle could be his Last Chance Corral.

The Mariners, at least, got a player. The Cubs got a dirigible.

Chances are, Silva will start the season in Chicago’s bullpen and be released some time in June.

But let’s not debate the merits of this trade. Let’s order up a Quarter Pounder and look back at what we fondly call “The Silva Years.”

Let’s not forget any of the 139 earned runs he allowed in his 183-2/3 innings with the Mariners.

Let’s think positively and linger over the five wins he had in Seattle, not the 18 losses. Let’s forget the 254 hits, and remember that day in August 2008 when he called out his Mariners teammates.

Silva speculated that he should “grab somebody by the neck and throw him into the wall.” He said he was “very close to doing that.”

He was 4-13 at the time.

Silva always was a cheerful presence in the clubhouse. How could he not be? He was pulling in $48 million for doing virtually nothing.

And who, I ask you, besides Silva could have hoisted Ichiro on his shoulders at the end of last season and paraded him around Safeco Field alongside Ken Griffey Jr.? That is the kind of intangible contribution you can’t find in Sabremetrics.

We should never underestimate Silva’s value to the Mariners.

After all, without him on the roster, without him foundering on the mound, the Mariners may never have fired Bavasi and hired Zduriencik.

For that alone, Seattle owes a huge debt of gratitude to Carlos Silva.