The Barry Bonds Issue
Though there might be a better chance of seeing Sammy Sosa patrolling left field at Shea next year, the fact that Barry Bonds is a free agent is intriguing enough to be covered at this Mets-only blog.
The San Francisco Giants, eager to begin a new chapter in their history, have all but cut ties with the somber slugger. With many old fogeys (Moises Alou, Ray Durham, Jason Schmidt, etc.) going out to the free agent pasture, combined with the steal of manager Bruce Bochy from the Padres (how the heck did that happen?), marks a definitive new beginning for the franchise, which most likely will not include Barry Bonds. Assuming that’s the case, where will Bonds wind up?
His agent Jeff Borris has a rather optimistic stance, believing that all 30 teams will be clamoring for his malcontent client’s services. Fat chance. The more realistic question is, will ANYONE sign Barry Bonds?
Borris claims that there have already been calls. From where? Japan maybe? Maybe the Long Beach Armada want to give Jose Canseco some protection in the lineup. Perhaps Hulk Hogan has gotten the WWF back together. Or maybe Mike Tyson is looking for a three-round exhibition — now THAT I would pay to see.
Let’s pretend that Bonds will not be blackballed by MLB, from Bud Selig down, in the same way Sammy Sosa was last winter. Let’s also pretend that Bonds’ 60-year-old knees, overall poor health, notorious reputation as a clubhouse cancer, high cost, and steroid allegations are not enough to scare a team away. Oh, we’ll also pretend that teams won’t be frightened by the potential PR nightmare and fan backlash that will occur upon his signing. In that fantasy world, what team might put in a bid?
First off, remove all National League teams from the list, as Bonds can no longer play the field. He is strictly a DH, and therefore we’ve already cut down Borris’ “30 teams” down to 14. Considering Bonds’ minimum salary demand to be in the $14M range, and his emphatic insistence that he will not take an incentive-laden deal, we can now eliminate Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Oakland, Cleveland, and Kansas City. Too bad, the A’s would have liked his all-walk, no-run style. Out of the nine teams left, who needs a DH? Go ahead and eliminate the Red Sox (who have David Ortiz) and the Yankees (they’re looking to get rid of lesser-cancer Gary Sheffield). Again, too bad, as it might have been fun to watch those two teams throw millions around in eBay style.
We’re now down to seven teams, most of which could use another bat. The World Series losers, the Tigers, certainly showed they needed a bat. Maybe a return to former manager Jim Leyland would lighten Barry’s mood? Possible, but would Leyland, GM Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Illitch — really want to mess with the good thing they have worked so hard to build? Not to mention have Bonds around messing with the young and impressionable heads in that clubhouse? Doubtful. The Baltimore Orioles might be a possibility — especially considering owner Peter Angelos’ ill-advised signings from the past — but do they really want to open up another can of B-12 … er, worms? If they sign Bonds, they may as well bring back Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa, and stop shopping Miguel Tejada.
The Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers have spent some stupid dollars on sluggers in the past few years, so maybe one of those teams are looking to be foolish again. Somehow I don’t think so. The Toronto Blue Jays could be a frontrunner, considering last year’s big splashes and their desperation to get over the hump and race directly with the Yankees. Though, instead of a Tyson-Bonds pay-per-view, we might see a Gibbons-Bonds smackdown in the dugout runway.
That leaves the White Sox and Angels. Somehow, I don’t see the Chicago fans embracing Barry Bonds. The Angels might be a good fit. They have needed a legit DH for two years now, their owner is crazy enough to make a huge splash, and they’ve already alienated their Anaheim faithful by claiming to be from Los Angeles, so no further harm can be done there. And hey, Barry’s home is the Left Coast, so it’ll be an easy drive from his home to his clubhouse easy chair. If Bonds isn’t blackballed, Anaheim might well be Barry’s final destination.
This is one blogging baseball fan who hopes for blackballing. Barry Bonds’ tainted performance and assaults on naturally achieved records have already placed a sour stain on baseball. Before he moves past and conquers another well-deserving icon of the sport, let’s hope he instead just goes away.