A's could swap a Barry for a Barry




 
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November 7th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: A's could swap a Barry for a Barry




BEN WALKER

Associated Press

Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez might hit more home runs than Barry Bonds, while Andy Pettitte and Jason Schmidt could win more games than Barry Zito.
Still, in a free-agent market stuffed with names like those, it's all about Barry. Both of 'em.
Surveying the field, here's an early guess on how it'll shake out: the Oakland Athletics lose Zito, but sign Bonds and pair him with Frank Thomas in the middle of the order.
Shopping starts in earnest Sunday, the first day teams can talk money with the players they're trying to lure.
Gary Matthews Jr., Carlos Lee and Jeff Suppan are sure to attract attention from the get-go. Moises Alou and Luis Gonzalez will move, Mike Piazza and Bernie Williams should stay and Roger Clemens, well, it's a no-decision for now.
Add in Greg Maddux, Nomar Garciaparra, Kerry Wood, Jeff Weaver and Sean Casey, and there's plenty for fans to debate between now and the winter meetings in December.
But, back to Barry. Bonds, that is.
He's the biggest lightning rod in baseball. He's possibly a very potent one, too.
Only 22 home runs shy of breaking Hank Aaron's career record of 755, Bonds will fill seats. Some fans will cheer his accomplishments, others will boo because of steroid allegations, but he'll draw people and more than pay for himself.
After batting .270, hitting 26 homers and drawing 115 walks, Bonds showed he can be a force at the plate at age 42. In left field, he's not as spry as his former Gold Glove self, but has done well enough to keep himself in the lineup.
The Giants seemed to be his home forever, yet owner Peter Magowan did a curious thing a day after the season ended. He said that if Bonds returns to San Francisco, the slugger would not play such a key role.
"I think we need to go in a new direction," Magowan said. "We have for a long time had a strategy that has worked well until the last two years, when it hasn't worked so well. The strategy has been one of having a great player - maybe the greatest player in the game - at the centerpiece and filling in with veteran players.
"For a long time that worked well. It caught up with us the past couple of years. Now we do need to get younger and healthier," he said.
Where does that leave Bonds? A best-guess look at where he'll play in 2007:
_ Oakland. The Athletics need to score runs and Bonds' combination of power and plate discipline make him an attractive fit for GM Billy Beane's offensive approach. To pull off such a Bay Area coup, the A's might pony up to bring Bonds across the bridge. They could re-sign Thomas, put him at first base for a few games and let Bonds take the DH spot.
For Bonds, Oakland presents a much better chance than San Francisco to earn the one thing missing in his career, a World Series ring. Plus, he'd still be playing in the midst of his fan base.
Losing Zito seems to be a foregone conclusion for the A's, and replacing a Cy Young Award winner isn't easy. For Beane, Bonds might be the one-shot try at a title.
_ San Francisco. The Giants might offer the most money, say $18 million for one season instead of Oakland's bid of $15 million. Bonds has a legacy with the Giants, yet can't be happy with Magowan's remarks. The Giants need to talk to Bonds, and soon, to clear the air. But if he stays in San Francisco, Bonds might join the likes of former Giants stars Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal - Hall of Famers who never won the World Series.
_ Detroit. The Tigers are interested, and it would be intriguing to see Bonds playing again for Jim Leyland, his first manager in the majors. Detroit could use a power-hitting DH, even though Comerica Park isn't the best place for home runs. There had been talk the Tigers would take a stab at Thomas, too.
_ St. Louis. The World Series champions need a full-time left fielder and have inquired about Bonds. St. Louis is full of forgiving baseball fans - Mark McGwire draws ovations when he returns to town - and Bonds would likely find receptive crowds.
_ Texas. The Rangers need pitching more than hitting and should spend their money on arms instead of bats. But Bonds appeals to them, and they're likely to make a bid.
 


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