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In case there was ever any doubt, the Chicago Cubs’ offseason is being held hostage by Milton Bradley. Until the Cubs figure out what to do with him, they can’t move forward with other plans. This is, of course, because the 2010 payroll is only going to edge up ever so slightly from 2009; so until and unless the Cubs can move Bradley, and save a little coin in the move, they can’t pursue other options.

Particularly in the outfield – after all, money issues or no money issues, if Bradley isn’t moved, there’s no spot in the outfield anyway. And boy howdy – after Curtis Granderson, the options are so very enticing (lame rolly-eyed face).

The Cubs’ offseason truly will kick off only after they trade outfielder Milton Bradley. Only then can they begin, in earnest, their pursuit of a center fielder.

A left-handed hitter would fit best, which is why a trade for the Tigers’ Curtis Granderson, a native of Chicago, at least will be explored. Among the free agents, Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel bat left-handed, while Coco Crisp is a switch-hitter.

From the right side, the free agents include Marlon Byrd — who played for new Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo with the Rangers — and Mike Cameron.

One agent who has spoken with the Cubs says the left-right issue is not as big a concern for the team as it was last offseason, when GM Jim Hendry was fixated on balancing his lineup with a left-handed or switch-hitter.

No, the issue now is how quickly the Cubs can purge the player who was supposed to solve that problem — Bradley — and how much financial flexibility they will gain through such a move.

Those factors, as much as anything, might determine the type of player they pursue. FOX Sports on MSN.

Mike Cameron, ironically, may be the most attractive of the options. Though he’s getting on in age, he is consistently good (if not great), and is very good defensively. Ankiel is also good defensively, but without his magic muscle juice, he can’t hit worth squat. Marlon Byrd is a disaster waiting to happen after hitting well in Arlington and nowhere else. Podsednik is a nonstarter (both in terms of discussion, and in terms of, well, being a starter). And Coco Crisp brings the great name and nothing else – folks keep talking about him as a “leadoff hitter,” despite not having exceeded a .345 OBP ever in his career, and hasn’t had an OPS+ over 93 (remember, 100 is average) in over four years.

And folks wonder why campaign so hard for Curtis Granderson?

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