Given my prior rants on Barry Bonds, you probably aren’t surprised that I’m currently taking a lot of delight in the fact that Bonds isn’t getting his way right now and still remains a free agent. Apparently, the market for a 42 year old clubhouse cancer who will probably play around 100 games a season—with stipulations on day games following night games—isn’t as high of a priority as signing overpriced leadoff hitters (id est Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews Jr.).
What’s great to see is the Giants calling Bonds’ bluff that there is a mystery team out there interested in him and so the Giants should be offering him more money. In short, Bonds wants 2 years and $40 million while the Giants are prepared to offer him half of that with a lot of incentives to get him to actually try to play out his contract. It seems that the Giants are finally tired of Bonds sapping their funds and only creating problems with the media while the team struggles.
Nonetheless, what surprises me is that there isn’t another team (or 5) that are actively trying to sign Bonds for his last 2 years of his career. Plenty of American League teams could definitely benefit from his bat at the DH position while ensuring that he would play more than 125 games. Despite my previous statements, I still believe Bonds could hit 30 hrs and drive in a 100 runs this next season, not to mention provide plenty of protection and draw plenty of walks. And if you consider that the Giants are probably offering him in and around the $10 million per year mark while J.D. Drew just pulled down a $14 million per year contract for only hitting 20 homers and driving in a 100, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.
But like I was saying, there are plenty of teams in need of that kind of a presence in their lineup and the free agent market isn’t providing many other options. The Angels are still in need of protection for Vladimir Guerrero[i] and the Yankees are always up for making ridiculous signings every year. Besides being a helpful power addition to the lineup, there are plenty of other teams that could benefit from simply having him on their roster. If I were the Kansas City Royals, I’d be at least offering the dude a 2 year, 10 million dollar deal just to put some fans back in the seats. They’d see an immediate increase in ticket sales especially as he approaches the all-time homerun mark.
And yet, the Giants appear to be the only team pursuing him, which begs the question: since when did teams really care about the clubhouse-cancer moniker? The Yankees have always been willing to pay big money for troubled players as long as they produce. The Nationals didn’t care when they traded for Jose Guillen from the Angels back in 2004. And the fact that A.J. Pierzynski even has a job should signal that the White Sox wouldn’t mind adding Bonds to the lineup. And it’s not just the MLB that has ignored the “troubled player” stigma either. The NFL and NBA have acted similarly with players like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Latrell Sprewell.
It seems that the motto of competitive teams has always been “whatever it takes to win.”[ii] Suddenly, we are faced with a much different picture that leaves me to conclude that either something has changed within competitive ball clubs that have always desired to do whatever it takes to make them better, or (and I’m putting my money on this one) Bonds is that disliked of a human being that teams would rather steer clear of him and pass on adding a 30 hr, 100 run, 100 RBI bat to the team.
Consequently, it’s down to one team for Bonds: the Giants. However, it’s for that reason that I think it’s actually plausible to imagine Bonds playing for a different MLB team in 2007. You see, if the Giants aren’t willing to up the pay, I don’t think Bonds can put aside his ego for the two seconds it would take for him to sign a contract that he doesn’t agree with. And in that case, he might decide it’s more important to show the Giants up and sign somewhere else for even less money.
It may seem crazy, but then again, roids can make you do crazy things.
[i] I’ve thought about this possibility of the Angels signing Barry Bonds long and hard. There are two sides to the coin. First, I’m an Angels fan and I’m tired of seeing the Angels squeak through the season with marginal hitting, especially when Vladimir has minor slumps. Second, I hate Barry Bonds more than any other player in professional sports. I’ve come to the conclusion that putting Bonds in an Angels uniform would create such a divide within me that I would probably go into a coma.
[ii] The exception to the rule in this case is the New England Patriots who have be able to show that one can be competitive while refusing to put up with players who won’t think of the team first and foremost.