Playing time for bad players

Watching Milton Bradley play some really horrible defense in left field last night had me scratching my head trying to figure out why he’s still playing LF. His UZR is already -4.6. That’s not just bad, it’s scary bad. His UZR/150 is -31.6. While the small sample size problem is in full effect here, it’s hard to make any argument that isn’t that Bradley is nothing but a DH at this point in his career.

The problem with making Bradley the full time DH is that the M’s already have a full time DH in Jack Cust. Well, that’s not the only problem. He’s also been awful at the plate over the last month. Plus, removing Bradley from the outfield also means that both Michael Saunders and Ryan Langerhans will be playing everyday. And it’s not like either of them is doing anything that would warrant additional playing time.

Take a look at the season stats for the four players in question:

3 out of those 4 are playing almost every night in either LF, CF or DH. Even once Franklin Gutierrez comes back in a week or 2, half of the players on that list will still be playing in each game. But which ones?

For my money, I leave Cust in as DH, at least against righties. I’d also play Saunders in LF against right handed pitching. He’s convinced me that he’s never going to turn into a decent ballplayer, but at least he plays good defense.

Against left handed pitching the situation is pretty poor. Saunders, Cust and Langerhans are bat left handed. Bradley is a switch hitter, but his OPS is actually 80 points lower against lefties than against righties. Looking at the splits, it would actually seem like Cust and Saunders should be playing against lefties as well, even though neither would be doing so on a good team.

Is this a good time so ask why Adam Kennedy and Luis Rodriguez aren’t playing more? I’m also left wondering why the M’s don’t call up Mike Wilson and left him platoon in LF against lefties. I know he’s not a prospect, and that he’s just a AAAA player, but it’s like like he could be worse than the other options in LF, right?

So where does this leave Bradley? I’m not sure. DFA is always a possibility.

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Tags: Adam Kennedy Jack Cust Luis Rodriguez Michael Saunders Milton Bradley Ryan Langerhans

  • Brett Miller

    Dude. Bradley should definitely play every day against LHPs. Yeah, he’s struggled this year, but that’s in a ridiculously tiny sample size. Look at the career splits and you’ll see Bradley has been great (.859 OPS) vs. LHPs as a righty and just slightly above average (.781 OPS) vs. RHPs as a lefty.


    Mike Wilson is crap. There’s a reason he’s never sniffed the majors despite being 28. If you want to see someone hit like Jack Cust without the walks, Mike Wilson is your guy. Plus, who do you want to remove from the 40-man to get him up here? A bad career minor leaguer who is 28 maybe warrants a September call up for a bad team, as a reward for being an organizational soldier. But now? This team has enough problems, let’s not fill one hole with a worse player.

    I agree that we don’t have good options, and Luis Rodriguez might be able to play some corner OF or something. But Mike Wilson isn’t the answer. If anything, based on career splits, Bradley/Langerhans should play vs. LHPs and Cust/Saunders should play vs. RHPs. This is because Langerhans hasn’t shown a platoon split in his career, posting a .712 OPS vs. lefties and .703 against righties.

    Cust has a career .853 OPS against righties and .720 against lefties. 76 PAs vs. RHPs and 47 vs. LHPs isn’t enough to say Cust should stay in there against lefties over Bradley. I agree with your research: these guys all suck and shouldn’t play so much. But your conclusion of who plays against what handed pitcher, in my opinion, is totally backwards.

  • Keith Myers

    I don’t think you can look at Bradley’s career numbers as a representation of what we can expect from him this season. It’s been 2+ years since he’s been a good player. By your argument, Griffey should have been a great DH last season and he wasn’t. It’s obvious watching him play that Bradley’s skills at the plate have deteriorated greatly.

    As for Wilson, I know he’s crap. But the team needs a right handed bat with some power and Wilson fits that bill. Plus it doesn’t matter if you lose him after this year when you take him off the 40 man roster for someone with actual talent. DFAing Bradley to make room for Wilson wont hurt this team. Besides, if Wilson completely flops (which is the probable outcome) it’s not like he’ll be worse than Bradley has been.

    In my mind Langerhans just shouldn’t be playing regularly. He’s the outfield version of Josh Wilson. Replacement level or worse at all aspect of the game. I’d rather have a weaker bat in Saunders against lefties with good defense than a marginal offensive upgrade and poor defense with Langerhans.

    • Harrison Crow

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say that career numbers don’t matter. Griffey had obvious issues with health and obvious decreases in bat speed. Bradley still has average bat speed. If we start seeing it decrease on either side of the plate then it becomes an issue.

      Langerhans is better as an all around player than Wilson. He’s a traditional above-average defensive center fielder. While Saunders has been good statistically so far this season, Langerhans has just had a few hiccups in the field. He’s on par in my book with Saunders and I think a better hitter than Saunders.

      Bradley is worth keeping over Wilson until August in hopes that he turns it around and someone gets desperate.

      I’ve had a few discussions on twitter and someone brought up the whole point that this would be the perfect time for Halman had he not been hurt. I quiet agree.

  • http://Retired maqman

    There are some serious questions about all the players mentioned and few obvious sure-fire answers to them. Hopefully Figgins gets back on track sooner rather than later this season and when Guti gets back he can contribute at the plate. Compared to Cust, Bradley, Saunders and Langerhans some of our farm hands such as Wilson, Peguero or Liddi might be options if they continue at their present levels much longer. Luis Rodriguez and Adam Kennedy might be better choices as well.

  • http://Retired maqman

    Okay so what do we know? Mr. Wilson come on down! Mr. Langerhans thanks for stopping by. Hey if Wilson stuck it out to age 28 then he deserves a cup of coffee in The Show. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he just rakes? Got to like that story.