Monday, February 25, 2008

Bonds a Ray? Why?

It could be nothing, just some talk between front-office types about available free agents that was leaked. Mike Piazza and Kenny Lofton are still unsigned, but no one is in a frenzy over them.

But Barry Bonds?

And the Tampa Bay Rays?


OK, forget all his baggage. Bonds is the game’s all-time home run hitter and just 65 hits shy of 3,000 for his career. You could see where a team desperate to make a bump at the gate and get votes for a new stadium would want to add an attraction like that to its roster, not to mention Barry’s bat to the middle of the lineup.

Think Carlos Pena would see better pitches with Bonds standing on deck?

But with Bonds, you can’t forget the baggage. You can’t ignore the steroids and HGH and grand jury testimonies and perjury charges and that big recliner that takes up a corner of the clubhouse and tends to rub his teammates the wrong way.

The Rays have worked hard at turning their clubhouse into the Disney version of a major league locker room. Everybody is happy, and the place is spotless, too. You should see it.

The big question is why Bonds would be interested in Tampa Bay, which has basically been the witness protection program for ballplayers.

You want to fly under the radar, grab a Rays jersey and blend in with the empty blue seats. But Bonds kind of likes the spotlight, despite its glare.

There is the money, too. Bonds has more home runs than anyone in the history of the game and will expect to be paid like someone with more home runs than anyone in the history of the game.

The Rays just don’t have that kind of money, unless they offer Bonds a contract heavy on incentives, which the 43-year-old may not be willing to accept given his advancing age. One injury, and he’s buying off the dollar menu.

This would be a bad fit.

The Rays are on the way up and don’t need an angry, tainted slugger who is looking for a locker so he can end his career on his terms and chase his 3,000 hits. They’ve had that in Greg Vaughn and Wade Boggs, though neither was tainted or angry, just here for the money and the at-bats.

The Rays have a team long on young, talented players. The front office added some veteran pieces in the offseason to fill a few needs and lend a veteran presence. They’ve worked hard to create a family atmosphere both in the stands and in the clubhouse.

No doubt a healthy Bonds would help the Rays, but his is a piece so big it could undermine the organization’s image and crush the dreams of a team ready to make that leap toward respectability.

1 comment:

Loyal Rays Fan said...

The correct take on a Bonds/Rays marriage. A healthy Bonds would draw fans to Tropicana Field, but the half dozen or so wins he might make the difference in won't increase the Rays chances of winning the A.L. East or earning Wild Card playoff birth.

Barry Bonds isn't what the up and coming Tampa Bay Rays need. Hopefully management recognizes this.