Barry Bonds and Freedom: Collusion in MLB?

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Barry Bonds and Freedom: Collusion in MLB?

"Tell your friends" - Jose Canseco (via The Onion)

John Brattain writes an article at The Hardball Times that is exactly what I had planned on writing this week. He takes a look at why teams are hesitant to add Barry Bonds, asserting that any team who refuses to sign him, is essentially following an act of collusion, similar to that of 1986. Here is how Brattain relates the two scenarios,

 

"Yet writers are saying that a club should forgo employing Bonds even if it means not putting their best effort into assembling the roster in order to protect the game. If we’ve learned anything from baseball’s sordid past is that the biggest breach of trust is not doing everything within the rules to win, or failing that, being the very best that a player or team’s efforts allow."
Who are these writers? Well again, Brattain beat me to the punch. Ken Rosenthal wrote a piece Tuesday where he tried to act as if Bonds is the steroid era and the steroid era is Bonds. Without one, the other would not have occurred. Now I've already had my one-sided East v. West Coast Rap battle with Rosenthal, and like Brattain, I respect Rosenthal, but obviously I disagree with what he is trying to suggest.

Cork Gaines at MLB Trade Rumors writes a piece discussing what team blogs around the majors feel about their teams' chances and rationale of signing Bonds. The author of this piece does not seem to mention a particularly good fit within any organization despite recognizing the threat that comes with Bonds' bat. Further commentary at MLB Trade Rumors discusses whispers the media has leaked about possible suitors for Bonds.

However, it appears as though it is simply a matter of those who are inside the baseball community that disagree to teams signing Bonds. Those who feel as if the negativity Bonds brings to a clubhouse will be worse than the positives he brings to the field. Obviously, they are those that cannot accept nor understand his value as a hitter.

And what is that value as a hitter? In 2007, while having a historic 42-year-old season, Bonds posted the fifth (tied) highest Win Share Percentage (WSP) among major league outfielders with at least 10 Win Shares Above Bench (WSAB). What that is saying, is among 'full time/full season' hitters, Bonds was the fifth best outfielder behind only Ordonez, Guerrero, Ichiro and Cust. I dare someone to suggest they wouldn't want any one of those hitters on their roster at almost any cost.


Here is some current ESPN material regarding Barry:
  • ESPN's Page 2 has an excellent commentary on team-by-team suggestions for Bonds.
  • Peter Gammons discusses life in San Francisco AB (After Bonds).
  • Jerry Crasnick explains how the Giants are being handed from the best player of all time, to Wreckless Rowand.
  • And Buster Olney channels Tony Kornheiser in attacking (not really) Rosenthal suggesting that the Rays should sign Bonds.
Sadly, without a team, Pedro Gomez has lost his job following Bonds. I imagine he simply has nothing to write about any longer. That said, for the sake of Gomez, could somebody please give Bonds a job. Aside from that, possibly ESPN can hire him to write about others writing about Bonds.


As to what I think? Obviously there is no reason for any team to not sign Bonds. He, at worst, would be the best pinch hitter in possibly major league history. At best, he would provide outstanding production from left field or designated hitter. That said, even with a team deep in outfield/designated hitter talent, given Bonds' ability to immediately be superior to all but 14 major-league hitters (as per WSP among those with at least 10 WSAB), it seems unreasonable that a team would not sign him.

Joe Sheehan writes, "that [the notion] Barry Bonds is not a player who can help 30 teams win is deluded. He is still a great player..." and "MLB managers all think he’s good enough to not bother trying to get out nearly 10 percent of the time." So what is the problem?

I understand the 'headaches' that come with Bonds being aboard. However, even given the troubled relationship that was Bonds and Jeff Kent, Kent had the best five seasons of his career while hitting in front of Bonds. Additionally, despite having one of the worst rosters in the majors throughout Bonds' career, the Giants remained a contender in eight of Bonds' 14 full seasons with the Giants (89 or more team victories). Last I checked, there are very few bad clubhouses among winning teams, thus, winning is the cure for almost anything-with the exception to low ticket pricing!
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