Barry Bonds is definitely one of the most polarizing and controversial sports figures
of this generation. He is at best
surly and it is widely known that he is not the best of teammates.
As the St. Louis Cardinals look for a power bat and
most of baseball turning their back the Home Run King, maybe Bonds and all his
baggage would be a fit in St. Louis. This is Albert Pujols’ team and Bonds seems to
have respect for Pujols (In 2006, he was quoted as telling Pujols to “shatter
it” referring to the Major League home run record). The Cardinals are perennially one of the
top teams in the National League and in this stage of his career, Bonds could be
best benefited in not being in the spotlight and has stated numerous times he
wants to win a World Series.
Let me state from the beginning, Bonds
is not a perfect fit. He brings a
lot of baggage, including possible perjury charges and the suspicions of
performance enhancing drugs. But,
if Cardinal fans can keep an open mind in regards to Mark McGwire and Rick Ankiel, would it not be hypocritical to not to keep an open mind in regards to
Bonds? Remember, he has not been
convicted of anything, nor has he even been
La Russa is open to bringing in Bonds.
During last year's winter meetings, it was widely reported that La Russa
requested a meeting with Bonds about coming to St.
Louis. Recently after signing an extension with
the Cardinals, La Russa mentioned interest in Bonds, but concedes that he
probably wants a large yearly salary and may not want to play the field at this
point in his career.
where he is in his career, Barry Bonds is a part-time player. No longer is his 43-year-old body
capable of 500 at-bats; in fact he has not managed over 450 at bats since 2001,
the year he hit 73 home runs. In
2007, Bonds played in 126 games, notching 340 at bats. The former
hit 28 home runs or one in about every eight trips to the plate. He is still an on-base machine and had
an OPS of 1.045. In almost 200 more
at bats, Pujols hit only four more home runs and his OPS was .997. Could there be better protection for
Pujols in the cleanup spot than Barry Bonds, even if it is part time?
know, Bonds will turn 44 during the season. Not being an every day player, he still
made $15.5 million in 2007. I am
not saying the Cardinals should break the bank, especially with this team in
such dire need of pitching. But if
Bonds could be brought in at a reasonable base, say $6 to $8 million with
incentives that increase the value of the deal as he logs more at bats, why not
take a roll of the dice? One thing
is certain; no other impact free agent bat on this year’s market could be had at
a one-year deal at that price.
Bonds is a Type A free agent according to the recently released Elias
rankings. The Cardinals have some
built-in protection as they will have a top 15 draft pick so it would be their
second-round pick the Cardinals might have to forfeit to the Giants. The Cardinals will pick up a sandwich
round pick if they offer arbitration to David Eckstein and/or Troy Percival and
they instead sign elsewhere, so losing that pick could be a
bringing Bonds in would be a big gamble due to the distractions he would bring
with him. But without a making a
huge splash in free agency by giving out a multi-year, high dollar contract or
giving up a piece of the farm system in a trade for an impact bat, is there a
better option? With this team in
dire need of strengthening its rotation, a starting shortstop, and coming off a
third-place finish, maybe this jolt to the system and thinking outside the box
would be the perfect way for new General Manager John Mozeliak to start his
tenure with the Cardinals.
if it is not a perfect fit.
Dustin Mattison can be reached via
email at email@example.com.
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