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Barry Bonds Rumors
Controversial all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is going ahead with a case against Major League Baseball alleging that he was colluded against following the 2007 season, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Bonds recently had an obstruction of justice conviction overturned, which apparently spurred the effort to proceed against MLB.
Bonds will reportedly assert that the league conspired to keep him from returning to action after the 2007 season. The home run king never found a new team after reaching free agency. 2007 was his age-42 campaign, so he was obviously past his prime, but Bonds still managed to slash an obviously productive .276/.480/.565 with 28 home runs over 477 plate appearances that year for San Francisco. Heyman writes that Bonds’ camp waited until after resolution of his successfully-challenged felony conviction to pursue a collusion claim.
The topic was covered at length here at MLBTR at the time: Bonds’ reputation was in tatters, and there were health questions. Nevertheless, given his unrivaled productivity even at an advanced age — he led the league in OBP in 2007 and five of the six seasons before it — it remained rather remarkable that he did not receive a single offer that offseason (per his agent, Jeff Borris). That has led to various suggestions that Bonds was effectively blacklisted across the league.
As is mandated by the CBA, Bonds’ issue would first be addressed by the grievance process. Bonds appears to be working with the MLBPA on the case. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, MLBPA head Tony Clark, and Borris all are said to have declined Heyman’s requests for comment.
Links for Sunday….
- Tony La Russa tells Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he's confident GM John Mozeliak will add pieces if the Cardinals have clear needs this summer.
- Barry Bonds still hasn't retired, notes Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (via Twitter).
- Mike Lowell explained to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston that he would like to take a year or two off once he's done playing. Lowell would consider broadcasting, but doesn't think he wants to coach at this point.
- Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post credits Florida's front office with another steal for acquiring Ronny Paulino. The Marlins traded for Paulino a year ago in exchange for Hector Correa, who isn't close to the big leagues.
- Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes a look at the Cardinals' present and future payroll situation.
- Yesterday we discussed the Nationals' need to make room on their 25-man roster for Livan Hernandez, who will start for Washington today. MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets that the team has cleared a spot by optioning Garrett Mock to Triple A, deciding against sending down Jesse English.
- Despite not receiving much first base production so far, Jerry Manuel says the Mets have no plans to call up Ike Davis, according to Dan Martin of the New York Post.
- The New York Post's Joel Sherman explains why it's important for the New York franchises to develop pitching depth from within their organizations.
It's not a retirement, but Barry Bonds won't play again. Agent Jeff Borris told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that a return to baseball this year is "nearly impossible" for the all-time home run leader.
"If there was any chance he'd be back in a major-league uniform, it would have happened by now," Borris said.
It's an anti-climactic ending to one of the greatest careers ever. Bonds won seven MVPs, eight Gold Gloves, made 14 All-Star teams and is the all-time leader in homers and walks. He stole 514 bases and posted a career line of .298/.444/.607. Allegations of PED use and a reputation for surliness stain an otherwise spectacular career.
On December 28th, 2006, the Giants signed 28-year-old lefty Barry Zito to a seven-year, $126MM contract with a full no-trade clause. At the time, it was the largest deal ever for a pitcher. Keep in mind that if Zito's 2014 option vests, his contract will end up paying $137MM. Henry Schulman and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the Mets and Rangers were among four teams willing to go to seven years. The Mariners were also known to be in the mix.
Zito's first three seasons with the Giants have resulted in 568.6 innings of 4.56 ball. Even if the option doesn't vest, Zito will still earn $83MM over the next four seasons. It's safe to say this is one of the game's worst contracts, but let's see what people were saying at the time of the signing.
Rob Neyer, ESPN: "Based on the facts at hand, this looks to me like one of the dumber free-agent signings ever. Zito just isn't very good."
Jerry Crasnick, ESPN: "Except for his durability, Zito is not the personification of a staff ace…Still, when proven injury risks such as A.J. Burnett and Gil Meche receive five-year, $55 million deals, there's something to be said for taking the ball."
Keith Law, ESPN: "Zito should be billed for all the ink and electrons spilled over him in the last eight weeks, since the sports media seems to have fallen for the spin that he's actually some sort of ace pitcher, when in fact he's just a durable mid-rotation guy with good marketing…That's a guy you want to get into for seven years and a gazillion dollars?"
Joel Sherman, New York Post: "It is hard to criticize the Mets for not giving Zito the richest package ever for a pitcher, which is what it would have taken to sign him. There is no better predictor of durability for a pitcher than a track record of durability, which Zito has. But as one AL executive said, 'durability is finite and you always have to ask when it ends.'"
Ken Davidoff, Newsday: "In [the Mets'] sights, they had a pitcher who would have cost them only money. Who fit the team in so many ways, when there seemingly are no similar alternatives. And they whiffed."
Ben Shpigel, New York Times: "Zito will make the Giants a more formidable club in 2007, which is almost certain to be Bonds's last season in San Francisco. Assuming that Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's career home run mark next season and then says goodbye, the Giants could take the $16 million they are paying Bonds and reroute it to Zito's salary slot. In that sense, the money the Giants are paying Zito is not that outrageous."
Murray Chass, New York Times: "The Giants can boast all they want about Zito's durability, his six successive seasons of more than 200 innings and 34 or 35 starts, his history of never having been on the disabled list or even missing a start. It's still a dumb contract."
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune: "Yes, it's rather optimistic to give a 28-year-old lefty with diminishing stuff $18 million a year for seven years. The question isn't whether the Giants will rue making that commitment to Zito, but how quickly will it become apparent that Scott Boras did it again?"
Tracy Ringolsby, Rocky Mountain News: "Why on Earth would the Giants shell out a seven-year, $126 million contract for free agent Barry Zito? Zito's a nice pitcher, but he's a middle-of- the-rotation guy. The only No. 1 starter on the free-agent market this offseason was Jason Schmidt, and the Giants let him go."
I didn't offer much opinion on the deal, but here's the MLBTR thread from the signing in case you want to read the comments.
Another stash of links for the afternoon…
- FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal says Red Sox GM Theo Epstein will have to be creative to keep the team competitive in both the short and long-term.
- Contrary to a report last month, Yahoo's Tim Brown says former Mets executive Tony Bernazard is not working for Scott Boras.
- Brown talked to Barry Bonds' agent Jeff Borris, who said he has not filed retirement papers because Bonds is "not retired – he was run out of the game."
- WEEI's Alex Speier talked to Jason Bay's agent Joe Urbon, who said "interest has been well distributed between the two leagues."
- Astros GM Ed Wade spoke to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart about his unsettled bullpen situation.
- Dialogue has continued between the Brewers and Mark Mulder's agent Gregg Clifton, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
- NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman passes along a report indicating the Braves are interested in 36 year-old Japanese righty Hidetaka Kawagoe.
Giants GM Brian Sabean tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Giants were determined to draft Tim Lincecum in 2006. Sabean avoided watching him pitch in person because he was worried someone else would take him and he didn't want other teams to know how serious the Giants were. Here are some highlights from the interview:
- Sabean says the Dodgers are the best team in the NL.
- He says the Giants could have used a high-profile player to distract from Barry Bonds once Jeff Kent left.
- Sabean is confident the Giants want to keep him on as GM.
- The Giants aren't sure what position Pablo Sandoval will play long-term.
- Sabean is non-commital on the future of the catcher position. Bengie Molina's a free agent after the season and top prospect Buster Posey has reached Triple A.
Links for Wednesday…
- MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says the Royals received righty Eric Basurto as the player to be named later in the Ross Gload trade.
- Tom Glavine hopes to pitch in the Majors this month, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
- Back on May 3rd, Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times wrote about the possibility of Barry Bonds signing with the independent league Long Beach Armada (the team already employs Hideki Irabu and Jose Lima). But Bonds' agent Jeff Borris said, "He's not going to do that."
- It appears that Tony Armas Jr. signed a minor league deal with the Braves after the Mets released him.
- Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News says Padres beat writer Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune will be out of a job come August. Sorry to hear it; Krasovic does excellent work.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo talked to Tony Gwynn about Stephen Strasburg.
- Johnny Damon talked about his future again, this time with MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
- Jim Thome would like to return to the White Sox next year, based on his comments to MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
6:22pm: Jon Heyman of SI.com chimes in via Twitter, saying he hears "no dice on Pedro and Chisox." Heyman does suggest some team should be interested in Pedro.
9:04am: Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times was wondering yesterday whether a couple of free agents might be able to help the White Sox.
DH Jim Thome has been bothered here and there by a heel injury, though he played in the last two games. Cowley asked GM Ken Williams if Barry Bonds would be Plan B if the heel injury worsened, and Williams emailed back, "No."
Cowley quizzed manager Ozzie Guillen about Pedro Martinez, who would conceivably become the team's fifth starter if Jose Contreras is booted. Ozzie's answer left the door just barely ajar:
"Pedro Martinez was mentioned in spring training, but just because a couple of his friends called me, and my job is to give Kenny the information. But that's it, no, Pedro, no, not right now. I don't know if we're going to because that's Kenny's decision, but right now that's not on my mind.''
According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, top pitching prospect Aaron Poreda is not an immediate candidate if Contreras falters Thursday.
Links for Wednesday…
- Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com grilled various Nationals about the possibility of the team signing Stephen Strasburg for big bucks.
- Righty Steven Shell elected free agency, while Nats reliever Wil Ledezma accepted a Triple A assignment according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Chico Harlan of the Washington Post discusses the Nationals' bullpen construction in this post.
- Yahoo's Gordon Edes chatted with Evan Longoria as part of his article about David Price and Matt Wieters starting the season in Triple A.
- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen commented about free agent Freddy Garcia, talking to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star thinks the Royals should sign Barry Bonds, and current team members seem receptive to the idea. In separate columns, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle and Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News try to figure out why Bonds hasn't retired.
Barry Bonds attended last night's Giants game, and provided his typical nonsensical comments. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News has a transcript. Baggarly learned that Bonds is not retired, and his offseason injury was related to his quad rather than his hip.