Forum Spin Doctor
SAN FRANCISCO - Giants owner Peter Magowan sent a letter to about 27,000 season-ticket holders this week explaining why the club decided to re-sign free agent slugger Barry Bonds for another season.
"The process of negotiating this contract was complex, lengthy and highly unconventional," Magowan wrote Monday in his letter, obtained by The Associated Press on Friday. "This decision was not taken lightly and we spent significant time evaluating all of the elements and circumstances surrounding the negotiations before we made a final determination to move forward."
Magowan and executive vice president Larry Baer have repeatedly said they have a strong understanding of the organization's fan base, and these periodic letters are one way they communicate with that group. The team had heard a variety of opinions from many of its fans during recent months regarding Bonds, who will begin the 2007 season 22 homers shy of breaking Hank Aaron's career record of 755.
The 42-year-old Bonds' $15.8 million, one-year contract had been completed Monday night, but the sides then had differing views of certain language in the deal and Bonds had yet to sign a revised version as of Friday.
Magowan's letter addressed Bonds' reported failed amphetamines test in 2006.
The New York Daily News reported last month that when Bonds first learned of the result, he attributed it to a substance he took from teammate Mark Sweeney's locker.
"Everything is false. Mark Sweeney never did anything wrong. Period," Bonds said in a conference call Monday night. "My relationship with Mark Sweeney is phenomenal. We are very good friends. ... We're fine."
In an earlier public statement, Bonds cleared Sweeney and said, "he did not give me anything whatsoever and has nothing to do with this matter." Bonds wouldn't address whether he indeed took amphetamines.
"Of particular concern were the allegations against Barry in the New York Daily News on January 12th," Magowan wrote. "We consider any action by one player to unfairly damage the reputation of another player to be a serious matter. Based on the information that we have at hand in this matter and in discussions with both players, all of the facts have not been accurately portrayed.
"After evaluating the situation and its potential impact on clubhouse chemistry, we came to the conclusion that the Giants' players will be able to function as a team committed to supporting each other and dedicated to doing everything they can to succeed on the playing field."
San Francisco has missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons - and the goal of both Bonds and management is to make another postseason run before he's through. The Giants fell six outs short of a World Series title in 2002, losing to the Angels in seven games.
Magowan said signing Bonds made sense as the team prepares to move ahead with a younger roster that still has its share of experienced veterans.
This offseason, the club agreed to terms on a $126 million, seven-year contract with ace left-hander Barry Zito; on an $18 million, three-year contract with center fielder Dave Roberts; catcher Bengie Molina for $16 million and three years; first baseman Ryan Klesko on a $1.75 million, one-year contract; and right-hander Russ Ortiz on a $380,000, one-year deal to rejoin the Giants and likely be the fifth starter.
San Francisco also hired manager Bruce Bochy away from the two-time defending NL West champion San Diego Padres to replace Felipe Alou.
Magowan is convinced everybody can get along, even in the wake of the Bonds-Sweeney situation. Both players say they will put things in the past.
"Additionally, we felt that with these assurances, signing Barry to a one-year contract helped us pursue a long-term strategy toward getting the club back on track," Magowan wrote. "With his presence in our lineup and only a one-year contractual commitment, we were able to avoid the temptation to trade away some of our valuable young pitching talent and were able to free up long-range funds to acquire a front-line pitcher. ...
"I understand that this has been a particularly controversial and difficult decision and that there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue. I received letters, e-mails, phone calls and had many conversations with many of our season ticket holders during our Fanfest. I truly appreciate your passion for the Giants as we work through these complex issues. At the end of the day, I believe we have put together an exciting team for the coming season."
The Giants, who host the All-Star game this summer, begin spring training when pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale, Ariz., on Feb. 14.