Big League Stew - MLB

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 this season. So each week until Mr. Bonds catches a fulltime ride, the Stew will feature a team that might be able to use his impressive services.

The question will always be a simple one: Should your team finally take the plunge and sign the most controversial man in sport? Today's argument comes from David Chalk of Bugs & Cranks, a man so into Tampa Bay baseball that he refuses to acknowledge that the team name no longer includes the word "Devil."

However, he says he'll consider simply calling them the Rays if management brings Bonds to town ... 

“It’s Barry Bonds — who wouldn’t want to have him on their team? He still hit, what, 28 home runs last year? He’s walking a lot, still been very productive. You can understand why we could be interested in him. I’m surprised to see him not signed yet.”  — Carl Crawford
While I very much appreciate 'Duk and Big League Stew giving me the opportunity to be a part of this series, I have to start by saying it is an absolute disgrace that such a series exists.

EVERY team should be trying to sign Barry Bonds.

This is The G-POPE we are talking about. The Greatest Player On Planet Earth. The man, who last season, at the tender age of 41, led the majors in on-base percentage. The man who led the National League in walks, the man who was third in the NL in homers per at-bat, the man who was sixth in the NL in OPS.

There isn't a team that couldn't use him as a DH or as at least a third outfielder. (Yes, the outfield. The man played 126 and 130 games in left field the last two years and that he can't play defense in the Majors is as much a myth as his enlarged head.) The above is certainly true of my beloved Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who I sincerely hope will indeed sign The G-POPE. Obviously, signing Bonds makes baseball sense for our D-Rays. The real issues are money, public perception, clubhouse reception and whether or not Bonds would want to play in Tampa.

***

Since I want to see Bonds in Tampa, here's a look at each obstacle and how the team would climb it.

Money: The Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers quoted Devil Rays‘ principal owner Stuart Sternberg as saying  “payroll wouldn’t be an issue” in pursuing Bonds. Issue closed.

Public perception: When the story broke that the Devil Rays organization had internal discussions about pursuing Bonds, a statement was quickly issued proclaiming that it "was a non-story." But, really, there is no reason for our team or any team to confirm interest until after The G-POPE's signature is on a contract.

Furthermore, the D-Rays may have simply been testing the waters and then found them quite favorable.  There was little if any public condemnation of the potential move, and many fans expressed hope that Bonds would become a Devil Ray, including season ticket holder Dick Vitale

Clubhouse reaction: Not an issue. Besides the quote from Carl Crawford above, manager Joe Maddon and star centerfielder B.J. Upton have both been vocal about wanting Bonds.

Would Bonds want to be a Devil Ray?: If we offer Bonds a chance to play right away, along with a promise to trade him before the deadline if we are out of contention, it seems like a win-win situation for the man.

Randy Winn, both a former Devil Ray and former G-POPE teammate, questioned whether Bonds would want to come to Tampa because the team is not a proven winner. Yet, our Devil Rays are off to a decent start and getting great pitching despite having two of our top three starters on the DL.

***

Adding Bonds to an already potent offense would make it the envy of all of baseball. Plus, there's also the little matter of putting asses in seats. Despite fielding a promising team, through our first six home dates, we are 28th in the Majors in attendance, averaging 18,040 per game, ahead of only the Marlins and Pirates.

But let's be real. We'd be bringing Bonds to Tampa to help the team win. In March, Cork Gaines of Rays Index and MLB Trade Rumors commissioned CHONE simulations that predicted both the Mets and the Devil Rays would win three more games with Bonds than they would without him. 

Don't think three games sounds like that much? Well, for seven teams in '07, a three-game swing was the difference between making and missing the postseason.

So go ahead and do it, D-Rays.

Sign Barry Bonds before some other team beats you in coming to its senses.

A big BLS thanks to David Chalk for his thoughts. Read more of his writings on the Rays at Bugs & Cranks. Additional thanks goes to The Sporting Orange for the sweet Bonds photoshop job. 

If you have an argument for The Barry Bonds Job Watch, e-mail 'Duk here.  

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