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Two Free Agents

Current state of the official rumor of the weekend, that the Cubs were about to trade Milton Bradley and sign Mike Cameronno no-comment. Cameron for Bradley isn't a major upgrade, but after a season in which Bradley was declared The Problem the Cubs are more or less forced to make it. 

I don't doubt, at this point, that team chemistry is important in some vague capacity, and starting from that viewpoint it's impossible to avoid counting Milton Bradley among the members of the un-sainted Dick Allen class. But I think the Cubs—and the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Mets—have a particular disadvantage when dealing with ostensible clubhouse cancers. Everything Milton Bradley did for an entire disappointing year bounced around among the fans and the media and the postgame comments until his exit became inevitable. In less demanding markets it's easy for a bounce-back year or a winning team to obscure things like this, but Chicago needed stories, and Milton Bradley became the big one. 

Cameron is, of course, one of the potential bargains of the offseason, and the Cubs, who trotted out three tweener corner outfielders last year, are in need of someone who can unquestionably handle center field. It would have been nice to see him playing right for the Cardinals, and spotting Colby, too young to be platooned, against the proverbial Tough Left-handers", but that was probably always wish-casting; I don't see any reason for him to play a corner so long as at least one suitor wants him in center. 

Meanwhile: I'm not sure this is a good thing, but the decision to offer arbitration to Mark DeRosa—uncertain after the Braden Looper non-move last year—is shaping up to be one of my favorite moves off the Cardinals off-season. Take a look at the friendly Rotoworld box and then follow the jump. 

I could see DeRosa getting $27 million after his 2008 season, during which he became a Chicago folk hero; he's three years older than Chone Figgins, but until then DeRosa was the better super-utility guy. (I was surprised to learn that Figgins has played so little second base of late, and done it rather poorly; I can only guess that a player's perceived versatility goes up as he steals more bases.)

But Figgins's 2009 was a Fangraphs-watcher's dream, a career year on defense and a career high in walks; meanwhile DeRosa played just two innings at second base and had a poorly understood wrist injury. The end result is that Chone is the proud owner of USS Mariner's heart, and DeRosa's desired contract, on the heels of a smaller deal accepted by a better second baseman, Placido Polanco, seems a year too late. 

Of course, if things play as they ought to, none of that is any concern of ours. DeRosa might be a minor upgrade to David Freese, but Julio Lugo is already making the minimum as designated Schumaker-platoon-partner-who-shouldn't-play-shortstop; whichever third baseman didn't earn the starting job would be basically irrelevant on the bench as it appears to be shaping up. 

Things will hopefully be a little less nebulous after today's Winter Meetings begin in force. Am I remembering this wrong, or are they usually held in places a little more seasonally appropriate than Indianapolis?