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Papi says (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday September 12, 2006 11:59AM; Updated: Tuesday September 12, 2006 1:44PM
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Bonds market up

Barry Bonds' latest home run may have secured an offer to return to the Giants. When Bonds was struggling early in the season, a person who spoke to Giants decision-makers said he had the impression that, as a rough guideline, 15 home runs might be their cue to move on while 30 would be the signal for a return. While there are obviously other considerations with Bonds -- both pro and con -- manager Felipe Alou commented at the start of September that the number of homers Bonds hit in the month would go a long way toward determining whether Bonds would remain a Giant.

Bonds' last dinger gave him 23, closer to 30 than 15. While there are indications that the Giants' baseball people wouldn't mind letting Bonds walk, there are too many signs that the big bosses will bring him back. Besides, he's now only 25 home runs away from breaking Hank Aaron's all-time record.

Around the majors

Alfonso Soriano knows that reaching the 40-steal plateau will mean a lot in contract talks.
Alfonso Soriano knows that reaching the 40-steal plateau will mean a lot in contract talks.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alfonso Soriano is still looking to become the fourth 40-40 man after a Colorado official scorer ruled an uncontested taking of second base in a blowout defeat as "fielder's indifference" rather than his 40th steal. The scorer had it right. Soriano, who came up just one home run short of 40-40 in 2002, will get that 40th steal eventually -- although a case could be made that all these steals don't add up to much beyond his coming big free-agent payday.

Steals or no steals, we'd still take Soriano, with his 45 homers and 20 outfield assists, over Carlos Lee (and even Aramis Ramirez, who'll likely opt out of the $22.5 million and two years remaining on his Cubs deal) as the No. 1 positional free agent.

• One reason the Marlins didn't seriously consider trading Dontrelle Willis at the deadline is that he provides great leadership to the team, and particularly the rotation, which is made up of him and four rookies. His leadership is so good, in fact, that in some cases they're outpitching Willis. Scott Olsen and Josh Johnson have 12 wins and Ricky Nolasco has 11 to Willis' 10. And Anibal Sanchez threw the season's only no-hitter.

• A-Rod has taken some hits this year for his play. But I'll say one thing for him: He has a future as a scout or executive if he wants one (not that he'll need the cash). One misguided writer (OK, it was me) suggested some lame trade this spring involving Chien-Ming Wang. A-Rod answered, "Oh no, he is good. Not him."

• Great story by Kat O'Brien in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Sunday about whether Rangers manager Buck Showalter could now be under fire. It seems the same troubles Showalter had in recent stops are back in play: the players don't really trust him, they think he isn't a good communicator and takes each game too seriously. And here's a funny quote from Showalter: "I don't take myself as seriously as people think." All 40 people on their 40-man roster can probably see right through that comment.

• I like Felipe Alou referring to the Giants' three young starters -- Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Noah Lowry -- as "the three children." Of course in that locker room, there are players old enough to have children that age.

• Yomiuri Giants slugger Seung-Yeop Lee, the Korean import who's planning to jump to Major League Baseball, is drawing interest from several teams, including the Orioles.

• It was a bad week for Dmitri Young, who got released for what apparently wasn't exactly "performance-related" reasons, then had to see some cowardly unnamed teammate tell the Detroit News that he was a growing clubhouse "cancer." That kind of comment should come with a name attached; otherwise it's nothing more than a cheap shot.

Meanwhile, it was a great week for Dmitri's younger brother Delmon, who's batting .408 and has made some big defensive plays. "He's the best player on the Devil Rays already," one American League scout said. Perhaps that was an overstatement since they do have Carl Crawford. But you get the idea.