In for a penny ... (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday February 6, 2007 11:31AM; Updated: Tuesday February 6, 2007 12:38PM
"With Soriano, we didn't know if he really is a left fielder, and whether he could hit in the middle of the lineup," Magowan said. "Lee was a legitimate candidate and we had an interest in him, but Houston had a better chance to get him because he has a ranch in Texas and it is nearer to his home in Panama."
Magowan said trade talks to find a replacement for Bonds never turned serious because "teams always ask about our young pitching ... [Matt] Cain, [Noah] Lowry, [Jonathan] Sanchez, [Tim] Lincecum, we consider all of them virtually untouchable."
Meanwhile, while other teams did give consideration to signing Bonds, none did so with serious, sustained intent. For instance, the GM of one NL team said his club did discuss Bonds, but "there's no way we were going there." An AL GM said his team dropped all preliminary interest in Bonds because "they told us they needed eight of his people around him all the time, with full access."
The Giants did succeed in getting Bonds to leave his assorted hangers-on out of the clubhouse and they did keep the deal at one year that still left them with money to overpay Barry Zito, so they did well on the business end with Bonds. "The best guy to fill our [middle of the order] hole at the end of the day was Barry Bonds," Magowan said.
And now that they are committed to Bonds, the Giants and Magowan are getting a little goofy about the same guy they thought about replacing, now raving about his defense ("He played a good left field in the last six weeks of the season," Magowan said), his influence on teammates ("He's a proven winner who makes everybody around him better"), and his health ("He looks much better, much leaner").
So now the Giants have talked themselves into Bonds having a better season than last year, while he hits between Rich Aurilia and Ray Durham, mind you.
"In '06 he was coming off an '05 season in which he only played 17 games," Magowan said. "There was a lot of pain and three knee operations. He was unable to run to get himself in the best physical condition last year. This offseason he has been able to run every day. Barry in '07 has a good chance of being a more productive player because he's healthier."
Yes, Bonds can still hit, with his hot streak over the final seven weeks of last season keeping him in a Giants uniform as much as anything. And when a player as great as Bonds maintains his fire to play, you would be mistaken to write him off on age alone. This season, and the 22 home runs he needs for the home run record, might not be the last hurrah for Bonds.