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Sign Barry Bonds (no, this isn't a re-post - this is brand new. July 2009. Seriously.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

My side lost the All Star Game for 119th consecutive year; my only salvageable moment was Lincecum's shaky start not turning into an Atlee Hammaker clip.  There aren't any SFG fans who didn't look at Josh Hamilton coming up with the bases loaded and not see Freddy Lynn or Bo Jackson or whomever it was that took Jason Schmidt's arm or Billy Swift's soul.  The ASG is bad news.

By WARP3, here is your top starting nine for all of MLB going into the break.

P Dan Haren

C Joe Mauer

1B Albert Pujols

2B Chase Utley

SS Marco Scutaro

3B Evan Longoria

OF Matt Kemp

OF Torii Hunter

OF Ichiro Suzuki

Note that neither Scutaro or Kemp made their leagues respective squads.

But really what I want to talk about is this:

From the 7-13-09 chat at Baseball Prospectus:

Jon (SF): Not going to happen, but do you think that even now, Bonds would be no worse than the third best hitter on the Giants, maybe second best?


Joe Sheehan: Maybe the best. Only Sandoval would have a chance to be better, and I'm not sure he would be.




What amuses me is that one of the criticisms of Bonds late in his career was that he couldn't run the bases. The Giants' best player, and the Giants' cleanup hitter, are slower than he was at the end.


Anyway, Bonds would make the Giants better, even at some .240/.390/.480 level of hitting.

Now, here's the thing, at the age of 44 after a year and a half away, even I (even I!) think Sheehan's a tad optimistic on what Barry could bring. But he knows more baseball than I do. And he's a real Trojan, unlike my inability to make it to my first class. The last time the greatest baseball player who ever lived swung a bat in anger his translated line for his 126 game season in 2007 was .265/.477/.565.

But lets assume Sheehan's right.  The Giants are 49-39; we have 74 games left.  Let's say Bonds could play in 50 of them at .240/.390/.480. 

That makes him our second best bat. 

Throw in the negative glove, and don't you still have an upgrade (particularly if he's the lefty half of a platoon)?

What were the arguments last year used by the Sports Industrial Complex as to why it would be unthinkable (unthinkable!) for any team to sign the greatest player who ever lived to the minimum salary?

That it would be a circus.

Well, here we are in a week where two members of the NL All Star team have PEDs on their rap sheets (Franklin and Tejada) facts that went completely ignored by the telecast (remember whenever Bonds took the field in a national game that there always had to be a disclaimer "we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the cloud....").

And more importantly, this year we've had ARod and Manny.

Was there any consideration given to not bringing them back?  ARod's a bigger celebrity (in a bigger media town) than is Bonds - and (unlike Bonds) he got caught.  Wouldn't the sideshow argument be better made with ARod's return?

Where's the sideshow been?  The Yankees are fine; ARod's not in the news - he's a sidelight to this season.

The consensus best player in baseball, a guy who started the season dating Madonna and is now (apparently) banging Kate Hudson gets a positive drug test, has a book written that alleges (still uncontradicted) some level of pitching tipping and PED use far beyond the admitted range - but yet the world keeps turning.  He plays, the Yankees play, and the game continues.

And something else happened - something else, I can't quite...

Oh yeah.  Manny Ramirez got suspended.  Slugging iconic leaden footed somewhat mercurial west coast left fielder got caught in the PED testing.  And came back.

Came back.  Got a standing ovation last night.

What about the circus?  What about distractions?  What about too much trouble for any team to take on, teams need to turn the page from the steroid era - Bonds certainly isn't being blackballed - what a naive reaction, blackballed - of course not - these are good, sound decisions!

Sign Barry Bonds.  We have never won a World Series in San Francisco.  We have a need for a guy who can get on base and bop home runs.  There's one around.  For free.  Just sitting there.

(here's where I shoehorn in an old blog, in my attempts to salvage my past work - I wrote this last October)

12 guys played LF for the 2008 Mets. Fernando Tatis, who had his best year in a decade, was the chief among them. His WARP3 was 2.4 (because he was 10 fielding runs below average) and his OPS+ was 125. Half a dozen of those guys also played the other corner for the Mets, as they ran 6 RF out in 2008. Ryan Church had the most plate appearances in RF, and finished with a WARP3 of 4.2. His OPS+ was 112.


The Mets finished a game out of the NL Wild Card. One game.


Let me ask you this - would the difference between Barry Bonds and the corner OF for the 2008 NYM have been worth one game?

Barry Bonds and his 170 OPS+ in 2007 was free talent in 2008. He would have signed for the minimum for any team in Major League Baseball.

There is no evidence, in Bonds's career, that his presence harms a clubhouse in a way that is quantifiable in wins and losses. None. And, even assuming the very worst, that somehow a baseball team who signed Barry Bonds in 2008 was worse on the field because of that - said baseball team could have simply released him.

Free talent. OPS+ of 170 in 2007. Willing to work for the minimum (and by the way, a proven box office draw).


And no one gave him a call.

The 2008 New York Mets finished a game out of the wild card with Fernando Tatis and Ryan Church as their corner OF while Barry Bonds sat at home.

The next time someone tells you that sports are a pure meritocracy, where it's performance that matters - where what organizations care about is winning above all - that organizations want to go to the playoffs, win the World Series - do all they can do to give their fans a championship -

Tell them they're wrong.

Hey Mets fans. How you doing today?

2 comments

John said...

I think it's a little too much of a handwave to just say you could release Bonds if he makes the team worse. I don't think this is the most likely outcome, but there's a very real chance his bat speed could have gone just over a tipping point and he puts up a line more like .180/.260/.280 or something over 100+ at-bats before you give up on the experiment. If signing Bonds flopped that badly, which I think it could at (ass-pull ahead!) maybe a 20-25% likelihood, the GM who does it does a ton of damage to their credibility, job security, relationship with jackass columnists and radio guys who (sadly) do have influence on fan opinions, and ability to get hired somewhere else in the future as they've pissed off the Old Boys Club by signing the steroid era's designated whipping boy.

Besides, after 4 straight losing seasons and not huge expectations for this one, I just don't see Sabean needing the WC this year to be able to present the season as a success (and isn't his contract up this off-season anyway?). Just finishing reasonably strong and a bit over .500 would probably do it for him. I just don't see the small potential upside being worth the huge risk.

Jim said...

Small upside for Sabean.

But I'm not looking out for his career; I'd fire he and Bochy at year's end and bring in DePodesta and Manny Acta.

Where the upside is for the ballclub; which was why, in that Mets piece from last year I attached to the bottom of this thing, I said this is evidence that organizations aren't really about winning. The upside is the SFG have never won a World Series and are in (as was evidence last night, 14 innings and six singles/1 run against the crummy Pirates) dire need of a bat.

Greatest player ever's within driving distance of the yard. I'm guessing he could be at the park by the time the road trip ends.

All he has to do is hit better than Rich Aurilia to be an upgrade.

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