Barry in the Bay?

And not San Francisco Bay either.

Well, its about time that I jotted down my thoughts on the Bonds to Tampa Bay rumours that surfaced in the St Pete Times earlier in the week.  To tell the truth, I might have written something sooner, but I just can’t decide what I would make of the Rays signing him.

As any of you who have been regular readers in the past will know, I have been somewhat more sympathetic towards Bonds than many.  I don’t believe in judging someone on what they might have done, and as I have said before, baseball as a whole can have no complaint about the whole steroids situation it has created.  I mean I don’t agree with the endless government involvement that has turned the whole thing into a circus (though that is for another post I feel), but if you are not going to put in place a policy to punish people who use drugs, then you cannot complain when they do, anymore than you should be able to go back and punish them retroactively. 

But the situation is what it is, and that means that if you sign Barry, you get the media circus.  And who wants that?  Maybe it would get the Rays some coverage that they wouldn’t get otherwise.  Maybe it will put some more fans in the seats at the Trop.  Maybe.  But it is guaranteed to be a distraction to all concerned.

On the flip side, of course, is Bonds’ abilities.  He hit 20+ homers last year, and put up his usual killer OPS.  A 3-4-5 of Upton, Bonds and Pena would look pretty good you have to admit.  An already pretty exciting offense would get that little bit better, it would bring more wins – and perhaps again more people to the games.

Ultimately though, I think the bigger picture is that we don’t need Bonds, so we shouldn’t sign him.  I’m not for one second saying that we couldn’t use Bonds, or even that he isn’t better than a good handful of our players.  But, being totally realistic, signing Bonds isn’t going to be the deciding factor of us making the play-offs or not.  And if thats the case, then the baggage he comes with is too high a price for the few extra wins he might bring.  This winter the Rays very consciously cleared out the negative vibes from the clubhouse.  I’d be pretty surprised if they were to undo that by bringing in Bonds.  Our young players could certainly learn from him – but I think that for the long term I would rather they did their learning from someone like Troy Percival.

All of which is, I suppose, just a long way of saying I’m not hoping we sign him.  If we did, I wouldn’t be crying about it – in fact I would wholeheartedly support him if he was wearing a Rays jersey (as I would anyone) – its just that I think we can achieve our goals for this season just as well without him as with him, and so the risk that signing Bonds would represent is one thats not worth taking.

More exciting – and indeed in all likelihood more relevant – news, Grapefruit League action (for the Rays) starts Friday!  Wooohooooooo!!!  Of course I will have to wait until Saturday 8th to be able to watch the Rays on, but I will of course be watching tonights Rockies-White Sox offering, pleased to have baseball back again.

On the other hand – more worrying news was Kaz leaving yesterday’s intrasquad game before throwing a pitch after feeling something in his elbow.  Hopefully its nothing major, but at the very least is likely going to put him behind schedule for the start of the season. 

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