April 10, 2008
Welcome to what might turn into an ongoing feature here in the Stew. With Barry Bonds currently out of work and teams always looking to improve their lot in MLB, the Shunned One's name will undoubtedly be brought up countless times. So each week until Mr. Bonds catches a fulltime ride, we'll feature a team that might be able to use his services.
The question will always be a simple one: Should your team finally take the plunge and sign the most controversial man in sport?
Our first argument against signing Bonds comes from the incomparable Ian Casselberry, who runs Bless You Boys, a great site for Tigers fans:
Considering how poorly the Tigers were hitting until they seemingly had
a breakthrough last night, maybe I should be more receptive to the idea
of bringing in Barry Bonds to give Detroit's lineup some extra punch. I'll admit that I'm intrigued by the idea of a left-handed power
bat to stick somewhere between the right-handed thunder of Gary
Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez, and Miguel Cabrera. It's something the
Tigers haven't had during their recent rejuvenation.
Bonds would also add some patience at the plate, which is something
else the batting order has lacked. His 132 walks and .480 on-base
percentage last year would have easily led the Tigers by both
categories. (Sheffield drew 84 walks, and Ordonez posted a .434 OBP.)
Detroit batters have been remarkably impatient in taking pitches and
working the count this season, often jumping on the first couple of
pitches they see. Maybe that impulse is fueled by eagerness to
get something going, to do anything to shake the team out of its
malaise. Bonds will not swing at a pitch he
doesn't think is worthy. If the pitcher won't put the ball in his
strike zone, his bat's not moving.
Rigid plate discipline aside, however, Bonds is too similar to what Detroit already has. One of the flaws highlighted during this losing streak is the lack of speed among Tigers hitters. Without Curtis Granderson, there is no one who can take that extra base, make opposing outfielders rush a throw, or end up on third after hitting a ball into the gap. This lineup moves deliberately from base to base, pushed along by hits. And if those hits don't come — which they haven't been — runners aren't going anywhere. Bonds wouldn't change that one bit.
He also wouldn't help the Tigers' defense, which is already suffering notably. The left field territory in Comerica Park isn't kind on immobile outfielders who can't run to the gap. (Actually, it requires another center fielder out there.) Between his creaky knees and vaunted bulk, Bonds just doesn't have the necessary range to cover all that space. If you want to move him to another position, Detroit already has plenty of guys that are better suited for first base or designated hitter.
Hey, here in Michigan, we'd love to see anyone come here for a job. We sympathize with anyone currently out of work. But we could use a lot more hot and fresh than old and busted.