Why is Bonds jobless? (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday February 27, 2008 1:22AM; Updated: Wednesday February 27, 2008 11:04AM
Baseball scouts say Bonds has slowed considerably in the outfield. Yet one baseball person who's surprised by the lack of interest said, "Could it be that all 14 American League teams have a better DH than Barry Bonds?"
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa publicly revealed that he recommended a run at Bonds to ownership and was turned down. One American League GM told me he'd have taken Bonds, but his owner told him to stay away.
Beyond those three small brushes with employment, there appears to be nothing. Nothing for the hitter who posted a .480 on-base percentage and .565 slugging percentage last season, the hitter who hit 28 home runs in 340 at-bats.
It's not his performance. It's something else. It has to be.
There's supposedly an anti-steroid sentiment in baseball. Yet the Astros traded five prospects for Miguel Tejada, the Cardinals traded for Troy Glaus and the Cubs have been negotiating to trade for Brian Roberts. Roger Clemens is throwing BP in Astros camp, and Mark McGwire may be heading to Cardinals camp to conjure up the past.
There's more emphasis being placed on clubhouse cohesion in some circles. Yet Milton Bradley found his sixth team, the Rangers, who signed him following extensive knee surgery, no less.
One American League executive said he isn't surprised at all that Bonds has not been signed, that there are considerations of image and practicality that weight against such a move. "What happens if he's hauled away June 1?" that executive posed, referring to the indictment hanging over Bonds' head.
While that would appear to be a long shot, a more immediate concern may be clubhouse considerations. Specifically, teams fear the distraction his presence may cause. It's a common perception that Bonds will bring negative attention, a charge Borris vehemently disputed.
"Because of his immense stature in the game, that type of attention will follow him on and off the field. Wasn't it that way with Cal Ripken?" Borris said. "He's the reigning all-time home run king. ... The only problem Barry Bonds poses is to opposing pitchers and managers.
"He had no entourage when he broke the record, and he has none now. He goes to the ballpark by himself, just like everyone else," Borris continued. "His trainer, his nutritionist and his strength coach all do their work away from the ballpark."
And as of now, whatever Bonds is doing is away from the ballpark, too.
Someone who recently saw Bonds said he didn't appear to be in his usual extraordinary condition. But Borris disputed that. "He's in phenomenal shape," Borris said. "All he needs is someone to throw to him."
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