[Milton Bradley, valued by Piniella both as left-handed hitter and shake-up artist for his “nice” clubhouse.]

In the wake of the dead-in-the-water Peavy deal, and the Cubs barely begun inquiries into Randy Johnson’s AARP status viability, the name Milton Bradley now looms as the Cubs’ biggest possible pick-up.  Former South Side star Frank Thomas, who now plays on the nationally recognized Oakland American League team, tells The Tribune’s Paul Sullivan, œCubs fans would love [Bradley] … He™s one of the best hitters I™ve ever seen.

Considering what most White Sox players think of Wrigley and Cub fans, I’m not sure I’ll take Frank Thomas’ enthusiastic push for Bradly at face value. That said, Sullivan sizes up Bradley and the Wrigley “nice guys” this way:

… Cubs manager Lou Piniella also likes Bradley, who is the kind of agitator who could shake up a clubhouse full of œnice guys. One of Piniella™s favorite compliments about colorful players is œhe™s a pistol, and Bradley certainly fits that description.Bradley is considered the top choice of the Cubs, though they are also exploring other options via free agency and trades, and Tampa Bay is making a push for the switch-hitting free agent. Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry was at Oakland when Bradley played there, and the two had some interesting moments, but worked together well.

Bradley made $5.2 million last year, and declined arbitration from Texas. He™s a centerfielder who can play all three outfield spots, making him more attractive to Piniella, who likes to double-switch and can move Bradley around without worrying about a drop in defense.

Bradley™s history of controversy is well known and would be tested in Chicago, though the city has embraced similar characters like Dick Allen, Dennis Rodman and Jim McMahon in the past.

Bradley™s anger issues were more glaring in his younger days, which is one reason why he™s played for six teams over the last eight years. His own hitting coach in Cleveland, Eddie Murray, once said: œHe™ll bark at you for no reason at all. I don™t like the way he treats people.

Bradley was eventually traded after an altercation with Indians manager Eric Wedge. He also had a notorious incident with fans in the bleachers in Los Angeles, and tore his right ACL in San Diego in ™07 while being restrained by manager Bud Black from first base umpire Mike Winters, who was later suspended by MLB for directing an obscenity towards Bradley.

But Bradley had no problems fitting in with Texas this year, and was considered a good influence in the Rangers clubhouse. His only lapse of reason was a day when he tried to confront Kansas City Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre over something that was said on the air about him.

The Cubs don™t like controversy, but they do like switch-hitters who work the count and have a high on-base percentage. If Bradley can be signed at a reasonable price, there™s really no reason for Hendry not to consider bringing him to Wrigley Field.