Friday, September 28, 2007

Bonds A Tiger? I Have No Problem With It

The 2007 season isn't over yet, and already the first salvo has been fired in what might end up being a fusillade of discussion in the coming months.

Steve Phillips, the erstwhile GM of the New York Mets and now blabbing into a microphone in front of the cameras at ESPN, was Q'd on today's Detroit Free Press website about a myriad of Tigers-related things. The question was put to him about Barry Bonds joining the Tigers out of free agency this off-season.

Some excerpts from his answer:

I think there is a way that with (Gary) Sheffield DH-ing, Bonds DH-ing, Sheffield playing left field, (Cameron) Maybin playing from leftfield from centerfield, you can maybe mix and match some playing time. Protect Bonds, protect Sheffield, get Maybin playing time for a young player, and have one of the most dynamic offenses around. Now there’s going to have to be some making up between Sheffield and Bonds for that to happen and it may be a pipe dream but you know what, Barry Bonds in that Tiger lineup with that left-handed bat it would really make a big difference.

And this:

Jim Leyland can manage Barry Bonds, I really believe that. I think it’s a lot more about the Sheffield, Bonds relationship and whether that would be manageable.


A one year deal at 8 million for a guy that can put up Bonds type numbers, especially if you have a team where you might have to mix and match some playing time with young players and old players it’s a pretty nice combination and I think a worth while investment. I never would have said that a year ago.

Besides speaking in run-on sentences -- or at least being transcribed that way -- Phillips is among the first mainstream media folks to seriously broach the subject of Bonds becoming a Tiger. But not the first people to do so. Internet chat rooms and message boards have been burning thru their CRTs with chatter of Bonds-to-Detroit, mainly because of the slugger's relationship with Tigers manager Leyland.

This is far from the end of the speculation and debate.

My guess is that once the World Series is over, and the Hot Stove League starts firing up its furnaces, and until Bonds signs elsewhere (he's committed to playing in 2008 and badly wants 3,000 hits, which he's nearing), we'll be inundated with the virtues or horrors of Barry Bonds wearing the Old English D.

You'll hear why hiring Bonds as the much-needed lefthanded power bat is a smart move, albeit expensive. You'll hear folks threatening to revoke their membership as Tigers fans if the team dares to bring in such a scofflaw. And you'll hear stuff like the following, from bottom feeders like me.

Bonds with the Tigers wouldn't bother me from an ethical standpoint, even though I believe he used performance-enhancing substances. This is because most every other team, with the same needs as the Tigers and with the money to afford it, would sign him as well. It's about winning baseball games and filling holes in your lineup.

My concern would instead be about his age and one-dimensional status (he'd be strictly a DH), and his apparent fragile relationship with Sheffield. I'm not convinced that Bonds and Sheffield have major problems. When I asked Sheffield what he thought about Bonds breaking Hank Aaron's home run record, shortly after it happened, Sheff said definitively, "I think it's great." Almost as if he especially thought it was great.

Regardless, I would have no major problems with Barry Bonds as a Detroit Tiger. I know others feel differently. In fact, check out the new poll on this page and cast your vote.

And brace yourself for an offseason of heated debate about the subject.

What do YOU think?

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the notion of Barry Bonds becoming a Tiger in 2008. Drop me a line at, or post a comment here, and vote in the poll on this page in the blue box.


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