So, it appears that I’ve missed the boat on this one. Half the Cardinal blogosphere is calling for Barry Bonds to be signed.
Kujo over at Rockin the Red was the first one I saw, then Scott Wuerz from the Belleville News-Democrat put a bit on his blog View From the Cheap Seats, InsideSTL.com jumped on the wagon, there is a fanpost at Viva El Birdos on the subject, rampant discussion on the fan forums at STLToday.com, and finally even Bernie Miklasz from the Post-Dispatch jumped into the fray.
There seems to be a lot of waffling going on in all of those discussions, lots of “should-we or shouldn’t-we” back and forth, plenty of doubt. Unfortunately, I’m probably not going to be much different.
There is no denying the presence Bonds still carries at the plate. One need only look at his statistics from last year to know that they guy can still hit (when he’s pitched to). Heck, he even hits lefties relatively well.
Bonds would come at a price otherwise unfathomable for a player of his stature. His agent has made that clear:
The outfielder, who turns 44 on July 24, has been offered by Borris to all 30 teams for a prorated share of the $390,000 minimum.
Borris said Bonds even would play for free — offering to donate whatever salary he receives to purchase tickets for children.
You’ll hear a lot of “problems” depending on who you ask. There are of course the self-righteous steroid haters, which I agree with Bernie on. If that’s your reason for not wanting Bonds, you are choosing a really high moral horse to sit on. Very high. I still hold a small place in my heart that wants to believe Mark McGwire never juiced, and his 70 home runs should still carry more weight than Bonds’ 73. That in itself makes it very difficult for me to hold Bonds in a different light based on steroid use (or the assmuption that he did).
There are those skeptical that he could meaningfully contribute this season. After all, he’ll be 44 in a week and a half. According to his agent, Barry has continued to work out and can be ready to play in seven-to-ten days. Doesn’t sound like a concern to me. Sure, he’s got bad old knees and will be a handicap in the outfield, but so is Chris Duncan and he keeps getting run out there.
Finally, there’s the fact that he seems like a jerk (I say seems, because I don’t know Barry, but where there’s smoke…). This is my biggest complaint against the guy, and one I don’t think Bernie touches on enough while calling out hypocritical Cards fans. Again, I agree with the steroid issue – hard for any Card fan who roots for Troy Glaus and Rick Ankiel on a daily basis to look at Bonds with scorn for that reason. But, the reason why I am skeptical and (at least for the time being) opposed to a Bonds signing is because the guy seems to be a grade A jerk. His pity-parties for himself with the media, his entourage that must be on the team’s payroll to accompany him to games, his attitude of seeming scorn and despise toward the Hall of Fame and baseball’s record books, et al. I could go on and on, but I’ll save you the time and let you form your own opinion of what kind of person you think Bonds is.
Ultimately, yeah, Tony LaRussa and his staff could probably reign the guy in. I’m sure it would be clear to Barry to tread lightly in the clubhouse, and certainly avoid stepping on the toes of one Albert Pujols. But what evidence do we have that he can change his childish behavior just like that? None, that I’ve seen. Rather than just keeping their mouths shut and waiting for the right time and team to come along and finally bite the bullet in signing the guy, they’re running their mouths about collusion (not necessarily incorrectly, mind you, but make your filings and keep out of the news about it!). They might be able to make a case for – and actually possibly win – collusion against Major League Baseball owners, but don’t you think it’s possible that of 30 teams there are simply 30 different combinations of good reasons why NOT to sign Barry Bonds? If ten teams each use steroids, jerk, and diminished ability as their reasons for not wanting to sign him, does that necessarily make it collusion?
Truth be told, I’m still on the fence about this one. I have long maintained that, hypocritical as it may be in some instances and comparisons, Bonds is just a jerk that I wouldn’t want around MY clubhouse. The Cards management and players might have a different opinion, but if I were in that locker room every day, I wouldn’t want him there too. LaRussa has openly campaigned for Bonds prior to this season, and we may see that happen again, as a perceived “rift” is supposedly developing between his desire to get after it this season, and John Mozeliak’s attempts to protect his farm system. This signing would seemingly be the peacemaker in that situation, resolving both issues baseball-wise.
But I say again, can he change his personality to fit in with the team? We saw last year what can happen when there is bickering and a lot of me-first attitudes on a team. The Scott Rolen-LaRussa feud should assume a big portion of the blame for last season’s outcome, at least in my opinion.
So sign Barry Bonds if you like – but I think I would be doing everything in my power (or allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement) to curtail his extra-curricular stuff. No personal doctors or trainers allowed in the clubhouse. No special treatment on the road. You will conduct yourself with a certain manner when addressing the media.
Hypocritical? Sure, maybe. Trying to keep together and happy a clubhouse full of guys who are loving playing ball right now and seem happy doing it? That’s my biggest concern…