Tabloid Column Takes Sarcastic Stab, But Right on Point
There are transactions in baseball that are made for a number of reasons, some out of necessity and others out of curiosity. At times, trading for a player is not the best course of action. On the rare occasion, all of these elements are in place, yet the chances of the move becoming a reality are slim to none.
In Tuesday's New York Newsday, there was an interesting column by David Lennon that explored the possibility of Barry Bonds joining the Mets. In it, general manager Omar Minaya and interim manager Jerry Manuel were asked about the slugger and both men seemed to want to avoid the subject. "I would say that I'm going to focus on our guys and our guys will hopefully be OK," the article quoted Minaya.
The problem is that Minaya's "guys" are either on the disabled list or are just not that good. At the start of the season, the Mets' corner outfielders were Moises Alou and Ryan Church. Both have had their share of injuries and missed a good portion of time.
Leftfielder Alou 'celebrated' his 42nd birthday on Independence Day Eve and has only played 15 games all year due to nagging leg injuries, and has played in less than 100 games in each of the last three seasons. Although he can still swing the bat, saying that he is on a decline is a gross understatement.
The regular rightfielder for the majority of the summer has been Church, but two concussions and a recent case of dizziness has put a big question mark on his immediate future.
When you go over the list of their replacements, bringing in an outfielder becomes more and more apparent. While some of these players are talented, they are hardly starters on a team with championship aspirations. Names like Endy Chavez, Angel Pagan, Marlon Anderson, Trot Nixon and Chris Aguila hardly conjure up fear in opposing teams. The Mets even brought up Fernando Tatis, a third baseman who has not played two consecutive major league seasons since 2002-03, and converted him into a part-time outfielder.
On the trade market, a player such as Matt Holiday of Colorado is said to be available, but will not come cheap. The Mets depleted their farm system with the offseason acquisition of pitcher Johan Santana, so they may not even have enough to get a decent deal done. That's where signing a free agent comes into play on an even larger scale.
Although no one wants to touch him with a 10-foot syringe, Barry Bonds is a name that should not be overlooked. Yes, he is two years older than the ancient Alou and has a bum knee and elbow, but has played in less than 100 games on only one occasion (2005) in his 22-year career. In 2007, Bonds not only fought his own battered body, but also the specters of Hank Aaron and George Mitchell. The slugger played in 126 games for the Giants while hitting 28 long balls and driving in 66 runs, constantly under the media microscope while he surpassed the all-time home run record. If he was able to produce those numbers during the most pressurized situations that included the hatred of every crowd he faced with the exception of San Francisco, he should be able to at least maintain that productivity now that the home run chase is history.
He has not received much of anything other than a reported sniff from Tampa Bay during spring training. For someone who placed so much emphasis on physical fitness, Bonds should not be too far away from game shape, even without facing live pitching since September.
It wouldn't be a good idea for a young team to sign a guy like Bonds, but the Mets are veteran-laden and do not exactly have a harmonious clubhouse to begin with. There is the temper tantrum-throwing Jose Reyes and Billy Wagner rightfully pointing fingers towards underachievers such as Carlos Delgado.
Although the Mets did win their game the night the Newsday article appeared and cut the Phillies' lead over them to one and a half games, the Mets' starting corner outfielders were Tatis and Chavez. In need of an upgrade - and in the same light improving their bench by putting these types of players into back-up roles - there is a big one available in California. That is the answer. The question is do the Mets have the guts to sign a public relations lightning rod like Bonds for better or worse?