The New York Yankees brass is in Tampa to discuss the approaching July 31 trade deadline, and any necessary moves to be made.
The Yanks are hot again, and considering their recent history in the second half, they have a very real shot at getting back into the playoffs, and possibly even winning the division. They only stand at 3.5 games back right now, and are beginning a series against the Red Sox tonight. Their future is in their hands.
They need another starter. Not a quick-fix fifth man like Jarrod Washburn (who has, admittedly, pitched well lately), but a really good pitcher who can help them significantly. I'm pining for an A.J. Burnett, for whom I also just traded in my fantasy league. His numbers haven't been great this year, but we know he's much better than this, and he has shown his real potential his past three starts.
But what they don't need is Barry Bonds, who Hank Steinbrenner today announced would be mentioned at the Tampa meeting. I know he's still a very solid hitter at his advanced age, and I know that the Yankees could use a good bat at DH, but please, not Barry.
His agent claims he can be ready to go at a moment's notice, but do I honestly believe that? No. He'd still need more time to re-adjust to hitting in the majors, and considering how late in the season it is, I don't know how much of an impact he can make. At age 97, he'll need even more time to get himself into playing shape, and there isn't an infinite amount of games left in the season. (For all we know, by the time he's ready, Matsui and/or Posada could be back, although I'm certainly not banking on either.)
But what the Yankees really need to avoid is his stigma. I know, baseball is played with numbers, not with kindness and smiles, but baseball is also a business.
The Yankees share time as the classiest organization and the most hated organization in baseball, and it's best for them to spend more time in the former. With minor-yet-noticeable rules for players like no beards and highlighting good men like Derek Jeter, the Yankees have set a standard that Barry Bonds does not fit.
At the same time, fans of every other team love to hate the Yankees, perhaps out of jealousy for their continued success, gobs of cash, and in-your-face fan base. Bonds is the most hated player in baseball, and by joining the Yankees, he'd make them even more detestable.
Is it really the best idea to enhance the ire of Major League Baseball fans across the country?
And of course, there is the steroid issue. Bonds isn't just a jerk, he's a user. Problem is, the Mitchell Report was New York-centric, so many Yankees have already been identified as users.
Do they really need more steroid hype around the team?
But more important than anything else is the locker room situation that would be created. I know, as I said above, his home runs and RBIs could be useful, but at what cost? The team is happy now.
Bonds is known for spoiling the locker room atmosphere. Is it worth alienating your players for a guy that fans won't even like? I'd be willing to wager that most Yankee fans would be willing to forgo whatever numbers he may (or may not) bring the table. They just don't like Bonds, and the players won't, either.
Even the guys at Fire Joe Morgan don't want Bonds on their team. Okay, they're split, but still, that says something. Stat freaks don't want a legit talent because of his attitude? That's powerful stuff. This isn't Richie Sexson or even Kevin Brown we're speaking of. This is an attitude of a whole new magnitude.
Basically, by weighing the pros and cons, Bonds just isn't worth it.
On the plus side, he still has talent, and could potentially help the team win games. But on the negative side, Bonds may not do that, as he is quite old and hasn't played in the majors for a long, long time (remember Roger Clemens last year?).
By accepting this risk, the Yankees would add a player who both the fans and the team wouldn't even like, and would want to kick out of the clubhouse before he even gets there. They'd also add a detestable player to an already hated franchise, whose image should be focused around their pride and their championships. And they'd add even more steroids hype to a team that really doesn't need it.
I know the man might be able to help the team, but I just don't think he's worth the risk.