Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
February 26, 2008 9:43 AM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Richie Sexson makes the catch during a rather interesting pop-up drill this morning. We'll have video on it later. The sun was out, so the catches were difficult. At one point, the infielders were forced to drop to one knee and close their eyes. They were only allowed to open them once the ball was in the air and no one knew whose turn it would be to make the catch. Down below, Jose Vidro has some trouble.
It's a short workout day here. The team has a golf tournament later this afternoon. Speaking of Barry Bonds...yes, I know that's a poor lead-in. But I'm amazed at just how much time has been devoted to this topic in the comments threads here and elsewhere. No, Bonds is not coming to Seattle.
If Bonds was to come here, the front office would be setting itself up for one of the worst media rip jobs of all time. Here's why.
The team just went out a traded five players to bring in Erik Bedard. It just spent $48 million on Carlos Silva. Regardless of what you think about the club's moves, in relation to any realistic shot of contending, accept this premise: the team believes it can win now. It doesn't matter what you, or I, or the U.S.S. Mariner, Lookout Landing, or Detect-O-Vision thinks about it. Bill Bavasi believes he has built a winner. And Bavasi is not going to risk sabotaging that by bringing in Bonds.
Some of you have correctly pointed out Bonds and his numbers and how they would represent a statistical upgrade over what the M's have at the DH spot. But at what cost? It doesn't matter if some reader claims to know an ex-teammate who swears Bonds is the reincarnation of Mother Theresa. There is ample documented evidence to suggest otherwise. And if you're Bavasi, you have to ask yourself if that risk is worth it. I say it isn't. Not after what we've witnessed with the San Francisco Giants in recent years. This team would instantly become the "Barry Bonds Mariners" not the "Seattle Mariners" club trying to contend for a playoff spot. How do you think the other 24 guys would feel about that? Yes, it does matter. We've had this disconnect on the site before. I think back to last September. But I'll say it again. There is an importance to keeping clubhouse peace and preserving some form of chemistry, even if that can't be quantified. Throwing Bonds into that chemistry mix would be like tossing a Molotov cocktail into a meth lab.
Let me tell you this. A "good teammate" does not put his team through the distractions that Bonds put the Giants through in recent years. If you want to close your eyes, ignore the mountain of evidence in books like "Game of Shadows" and "Love Me, Hate Me'' or the leaked grand jury testimony in the BALCO case, go right ahead. But if Bonds cared about his teammates as much as some of you claim, if he wasn't a clubhouse cancer in the making, he'd have pulled a Jason Giambi, an Andy Pettitte, or an Eric Gagne and simply moved on.
But he didn't. I'm not saying Pettitte is a saint. Or any of those guys. Giambi and Gagne won't even say what they're sorry for. Hey, the notion of being a true "stand-up" guy in baseball is vastly overrated by fans. There simply aren't too many courageous types willing to take a stand on anything. Not many Carlos Delgados, or even Gary Sheffields, who will risk popularity by speaking their minds and saying what they believe to be true and right.
Or admitting wrong. Talked to guest coach Tony Phillips yesterday, you may have read. Phillips got nabbed for freebasing cocaine in 1997. He stood up and admitted he was guilty. That he'd done wrong. And you know what? He sleeps at night now. Very well. His conscience is clear. He has nothing hanging over him. Bonds has plenty hanging over him. It's going to dog him for years because he has made this his own personal war. He's thrown down the gauntlet and agreed to a parking lot brawl with the federal government. If Bonds is as innocent as he claims to be, then he is the victim of one of the biggest mass conspiracies of all-time.
Or, he's simply a jerk about to go down big-time. Kind of what Roger Clemens is setting himself up for right now. If you're going to duke it out with the feds, you'd better have innocence on your side.
And in the case of Bonds, the M's do not want to be anywhere near that colossus if it should happen to come crashing back down to Earth. Who needs it? Baseball, I keep telling you, is about much more than stats. The only argument for bringing Bonds in is stats-based. But what's on the other side of the ledger? Too much, apparently, for 29 other teams that aren't the Tampa Bay Rays.
Hey, if you want to model your organization after the Rays, go right ahead. But then you also have to face facts. As talented as they are and should be down the road, the Rays won't win anything this year. No chance. So signing Bonds is a move with minimal risk. That franchise only draws about 5,000 live humans to every game anyway (never mind announced crowds).
The Mariners are heading in to this season, as we've debated on all winter, with a whole lot more to lose. When that's the case, you don't make deals that have a better than 50-50 chance of blowing up in your face.
Speaking of Bonds and his ex-team, the Giants just announced that Tim Lincecum will start Friday's Cactus League opener against the M's in Scottsdale. That ought to be fun. Down below, a shot of the guy who'll be playing in left field for Seattle this season. No, not Bonds. It's Raul Ibanez, chatting this morning with first base coach Eddie Rodriguez, the guy running spring training.