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Here’s Why Nobody Will Sign Barry Bonds

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On Wednesday, SI.com's Jon Heyman (well she's a total blam-blam) asked a rather harmless question: "How is that [Scott] Spiezio cops a plea after a DUI incident in which he also allegedly beats up a friend, and he can get a job (with the Braves), but Barry Bonds, who has not pleaded guilty to anything and is an all-time great, remains unemployed? Just asking."

I want to answer the question, because I want to believe someone at SI is personally asking me this question. Makes me feel like a big man.

Indeed, after the Cardinals released Spiezio on news of his DUI hit-and-run, he was signed by Atlanta a month later, then eventually got probation after pleading guilty. And this is relatable to Barry Bonds' situation how? Not all guilty pleas are equal.

First and foremost: Spiezio comes cheap, Bonds does not. And Spiezio was not put on the major league roster right away — he's in Triple-A as we speak, type, and read.

Now, as to why Bonds remains a free agent, well, let's try to explain that one. And to be fair, I'll (mostly) take the steroid cloud out of the picture. He can still hit, and if he played in at least 100 games this year, he could still probably hit 25 home runs. But one of the biggest negatives is that he doesn't have the knees to play in the field anymore, eliminating 16 National League teams from the picture, which leaves 14 American League squads. Do any of them need a DH?

Boston Red Sox: Um, I think they already got one. Ah yes, it's very nice-a. (I told them we already got one!) "Can we see it?" Of course not, you are English.

Cleveland Indians: Them too.

New York Yankees: They're using Hideki Matsui mostly at DH, and he's rather durable. Then again it wouldn't surprise me if they signed him sometime in June, just because that's what they do.

Los Angeles Angels: They have four outfielders (Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson, Torii Hunter, Gary Matthews, Jr.) who rotate as the DH. No need for him in California.

Chicago White Sox: Well, there's Thome.

Detroit Tigers: If there's one person in the league that probably wants to see Barry Bonds play somewhere, it's Gary Sheffield. Unfortunately, he doesn't want Bonds to play for the Tigers, because then Sheffield himself is no longer an everyday player. (Plus, Dave Dombowski may be cradling the shiny, candy-like panic button with a 1-8 start, but come on. Get some relievers first.)

Oakland A's: Unless the price goes down ridiculously cheap at this point, Bonds doesn't fit the fabled mold of "bargain-bin productive veteran" that Billy Beane loves to snag.

Toronto Blue Jays: Barry Bonds is what Frank Thomas would have been if Frank Thomas used steroids. And the Jays are DHing with the untainted one.

Seattle Mariners: This is actually one of the best situations for Bonds, and perhaps for Seattle, since they really don't have a DH. ([echo] Now batting… atting… striking fear into the hearts of the opposing pitcher… itcher… the DESIGNATED HITTER… itter… Jose… VIDRO… idro… idro… idro… idro…) But the Mariners CEO has said unequivocally, "no" to Bonds. Welp, that settles that.

Texas Rangers: If not Seattle, then Texas might be a reasonable fit. Milton Bradley's DHed so far this year, but he could move back to the outfield, replacing an ineffective Marlon Byrd. Thing is, how on earth will President Bush let Bonds on his former team if he can't even throw a first pitch to someone on the Mitchell Report?

Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals: Sure, they're somehow both in first place now, two weeks into the season, but I'm not wholly convinced they'll stay afloat long enough to consider him.

Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins: Yeah, no.

So it pretty much isn't a question of "Why is Nobody Signing Barry Bonds," but "Why Is Seattle Not Signing Barry Bonds?" Well, because they said so. Duh.

Any other questions for me, Mr. Heyman? I got all month.

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  • Bonds brings way too much baggage along with him. It’s funny to think that the all time home run leader is jobless. And really, no could care less.

  • markydenow

    Barry compiled a remarkable .480 OBA last season and clubbed 28 homers in just 352 at-bats. The blogger’s assertion that he can still hit is a vast understatement. And as for his fielding, while it is now rather poor, it is certainly no worse than that of, say Eric Hinske or Manny Ramirez. Heck, Derek Jeter costs his team far more runs defensively thn Bonds in left ever could.

    So the implication that no NL team could use a hitter of Barry’s caliber is silly. Couldn’t he play first base (I bet he’d be better than Giambi is now).

    Bonds has obviously been blacklisted by management. Several managers have gone on record as wanting him on their clubs, and many players have said that they respect and support Bonds. None of that seems to matter: the bosses are colluding against him, and he will never get a job.

  • Tony

    I honestly hate Barry Bonds but I strongly disagree with this article.

    Compare Barry’s .OPS and .OBP to that of the other DH’s in the American League and the production isn’t even close.

    Barry is a poison to the club house, horrible around young players, and a total distraction for any team. That is why he is not signed.

    Any team could benefit from having him at DH from a pure numbers standpoint.

  • markydenow

    “Barry is a poison to the club house, horrible around young players, and a total distraction for any team”

    First of all, if you look at the performance of Barry’s teams with an open mind, they have clearly done a lot better when he was there than not. The Pirates were a terrible team when he came up, won 3 straight division titles when he matured, and haven’t won since.

    The Giants were a terrible team when they signed him, and won 103 games the first season (he was voted league MVP).

    That’s a team cancer? If you mean by that that Barry has a difficult personality, well did’t Roger Clemens, Rogers Hornsby, Reggie Jackson, Steve Carlton, Ty Cobb…you get my point. Many of the greatest athletes have been ruthlessly competitve, and not always nice. Does that make them cancers?

    Does anyone doubt that the Giants would be a superior team with a 43 year old Bonds on the field today?

    Bonds has actuall been involved in very few fistfights, or nasty on-field incidents in his two decades in MLB. He got into a shoving match with Jeff Kent when he was in his mid-30s…that’s about it. Compare Barry’s rap sheet with that of Babe Ruth, as I have. Bonds was clearly a better baseball citizen.

    The press has always hated the outspoken Bonds,

  • Tony

    The situation with Ruth was entirely different then the one with Bonds. Ruth was never indicted for starters so that rap sheet arguement goes right out the windown.

    As far has his problems in the club house; the effects of his total seclusion from the team, complete with his own entourage, and special sets of rules, have been very well documented.

    Now out of the players you cited the only one I can agree with is Reggie Jackson. If you don’t think he was a cancer in Billy Martin’s club house do a little research on the Bronx Zoo, or at least watch the mini series on ESPN. The difference being obviously that Reggie actually won.

    A better comparision of the bonds effect would be T.O. Do teams win with him? absolutely. Is he a total cancer to whom ever he plays on. Inevitably.

    I’ll never forget the footage of a young Barry screaming in Jim Leyland’s face in spring training.

    Bonds was even hated in college. Jeff Pearlman did an outstanding article on this; you can still search it on ESPN.com. A few quotes:

    “Arizona State coach Jim Brock looked forward to Barry Bonds’ sophomore season with mixed feelings. ASU’s roster would be its most talented ever, yet Barry was a social leper”

    “Barry posted strong numbers (.360, 11 home runs, 55 RBIs, 30 stolen bases) in 1984 for a team that went 55-20 and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the season, but his attitude was terrible. He missed a bus trip, arrived late to several practices, often took BP with half-hearted intensity and turned in lukewarm efforts in the outfield that infuriated the pitching staff. “He would never attempt to throw a guy out at home if it was going to be a close play,” says Randy Rector, a pitcher. “There’d be 15 scouts in the stands, and he didn’t want them to see that he had no arm.””

    “”It’s been brought to my attention that a lot of you think Barry is causing more harm than good,” he told his players. “And I don’t believe I can excuse his actions any longer. So here’s the deal — I’m going to give you boys the authority to vote on Barry’s future. Do you want him to continue on the team, or do you want him off? Keep in mind, our ultimate goal here is to win a national championship, and he’s obviously a big part of that. But it’s your decision.” Brock walked off, and his troops retreated to the player’s lounge to talk. He was certain that, with enough thought, Barry would be asked to apologize and stay. Nobody wanted to lose one of the team’s brightest stars — not over a late curfew. Right?

    But the vote wasn’t about a curfew. It was about Barry’s bad habits and arrogant indifference; it was about the way he referred to himself in the third person during interviews and always made excuses for misplays. “He was missing practices, showing up late, leaving early,” says Louie Medina, the Sun Devils’ first baseman. “He would say, ‘Oh, I have a stomach virus,’ and it would be allowed. I can’t speak for everyone, but I was tired of his act.””

    When McDowell informed Brock of the team’s decision, the coach got what he had expected — a strong consensus. But shockingly, the majority had voted against Barry continuing as a Sun Devil. Only two players, outfielders Devereaux and Todd Brown, were in favor of Barry’s return, and their support was tepid. The rest had decided that he was finished. “I’d never seen the expression on Jim Brock’s face that I saw right there,” says Jeff Pentland, the team’s hitting coach. “Absolute shock. It was obviously a plan to have the vote come out in favor of Barry, and it backfired.”

    — There’s so much more, I could go on all night. A cancer. Enough said.

  • Reggie

    OMG, quoting Jeff Pearlman as an authority or even honest.

    Which of these DH’s would Bonds not be a MAJOR improvement over?

  • Dalton

    After all the attention and new fans Bonds home run hitting has brought to baseball it’s sad to see that MLB is turning his back on him. He’s still a viable run producer and deserves at least part time job. The steroid problem might be a Bonds problem but it is defiantly a baseball problem. At this point no one has been vindicated. Last year everyone got all excited thinking that A-Rod would someday break Bonds home run record and we would have an untainted home run king. I don’t see any reason that Rodriguez or any other player in the last 20 years should be considered untainted. If Barry Bonds is willing to play for an appropriate salary for an outfielder with tired knees than he should have a job this year.

  • Mary

    Barry is my all time favorite player. A book that I read recently tells something, I think: I think that is him. What he did and even I will admit he never had a good arm they shouldve got him out there w/ a friggin bat then he couldve showed sactown whats up.

  • jays

    Welcome to the Labatt Blue Jays of Toronto, Mr. Bonds. See you later Big Hurt.

    The AL East is even stronger now, if that is possible.

  • Eddie

    I’d like to see the NY Yankess sign Barry Bonds. Imagine Bonds batting in front, (or behind)A-Rod. Pinstripes might be just the right look for Barry B.!

  • Oh Canada! Shipping Barry Bonds out of the country may be the only answer!