To Be or Not to be

added 8/11/2008 by Scott Barzilla

Richard Justice (AKA "the weather vane") stirred the pot something fierce when he suggested that the club sign Barry Bonds. That's fine, the Chronicle needs to sell newspapers and he wants more readers so he can go national (the four letter network). Here at Astros Daily, we don't charge the readers and we don't get paid. We don't care about stirring the pot.

Every once in awhile, a publicity hound strikes a chord with a wild suggestion. A Bonds discussion has so many facets that we must look at each of them individually in some detail. The first and most obvious question is whether the Astros are in the playoff hunt. If we assume Bonds replaces Lee's production (a very simple assumption) then we can look at where they currently are.

Give the club some credit. Two weeks ago this conversation would have been laughable, but a 58-59 record has them on the verge of being in on the national conversation. Before we consider the other contenders we need to look at what is reasonable. The club has 45 games remaining. Let's assume they go 30-15 the rest of the way. That means they would win every series going out. That puts them at 88-74 for their trouble.

If they pull that off I will take back anything bad I've said about Ed Wade. The only problem with that is that the Brewers would have to go 21-23 the rest of the way to tie that mark. This naturally assumes that the Cardinals, Mets, and Marlins don't catch fire and leapfrog the Brewers themselves. So, let's paint a playoff run is extremely unlikely.

This brings us to the question of Barry Bonds' production. It is popular to say Bonds can't hit anymore. He hasn't hit in five months (counting Spring Training) and you never know when he might lose it. Yet, many of those comments are not based on the layoff but what he did last year. He "only" hit .276 and "only" hit 28 home runs. The problem with that line of thinking is that he still got on base 48 percent of the time and he still slugged .565. Last time I checked those were better numbers than Lee.

Clearly, Bonds is more than proven that he can still produce based on last year's numbers. However, we haven't dealt with the 10,000 pound gorilla in the room. Will Bonds fit in clubhouse. Cecil Cooper has already threatened to quit if Bonds is brought in. Based on the conversation on the boards, many would think that is reason enough to bring in Bonds. Still, we have no way of knowing how many in the clubhouse feel the same as Cooper.

Justice and others will reflexively bring up Miguel Tejada and his legal quagmire, but the two are incomparable. First, Tejada is not in near the legal trouble and he has also done a good job of keeping his mouth shut and endearing himself to the fans, media, and his teammates. Let's just say that Bonds has a different reputation. Beyond the clubhouse, you also have to worry about the media circus surrounding him.

Of course, the other side can argue about the financial benefit of signing Bonds. According to his agent, he would be willing to sign a minimum deal. In that case, the dollars would flow in like you wouldn't believe. Fans would believe the club is in it and even if they aren't, people will pack the seats to see him anyway. It probably is a minor consideration, but a financial windfall now might help the club bring in a big ticket free agent in the off-season.

At the end of the day, Bonds is not coming to Houston or anywhere else. Whether he has been unofficially blackballed or if teams just don't want the headache, Bonds is a great cautionary tale for other spoiled superstars (read: Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez). There will be a day when teams don't want to deal with you even when you still have something left in the tank. That time has come for Bonds.