Ring of Famer
Join Date: Dec 2002
Oh, what a surprise. B*rry's crying like a punk again.
Bonds fires back at owner
Slugger steamed by Magowan's recent comments
Posted: Friday October 6, 2006
Controversial Giants superstar Barry Bonds was deeply upset to hear club owner Peter Magowan recently characterize him as a complementary player and "not the centerpiece of the puzzle.'' As a result, Bonds may be more seriously than ever considering options other than the Giants.
Negotiations were expected to begin shortly after the regular season, and assuming they still do start soon, they will begin with tension.
"For the last 14 years Barry has performed hard and supremely well for the San Francisco Giants organization, and those comments from Peter Magowan were hurtful and showed a total lack of recognition for the most dedicated and productive employee in the history of the franchise," Bonds' longtime agent Jeff Borris told SI.com. "These comments were a little bit below the belt. I was surprised they'd fire a bullet like that our way."
Magowan responded to Borris' comments, saying, "We certainly meant no disrespect to Barry Bonds. He has been a great player for the Giants and a huge part of the success of our franchise. I think everyone knows I've been the one who's been about the most in his corner, through all the ups and downs. But I think we have to look at the facts now. We've had two straight seasons under .500 and our team got too old. We're going to go in a new direction. That doesn't mean we don't have interest in signing Barry Bonds, nor does it mean we'll have all this sorted out quickly."
Borris said they didn't want to engage in any verbal jousting with Magowan, but they also can't completely disregard Magowan's previous remarks. Since 1992 the Giants have used Bonds' home-run power and drawing power to drive the organization, although people who've dealt with Magowan's people say they started to notice "cracks'' in their strong support for Bonds, particularly earlier this year, when the baggage was for maybe the first time outweighing the production. That was before Bonds made a major second-half turnaround, batting .292 with a 1.026 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) after the All-Star break and pulling within 22 home runs of breaking Hank Aaron's alltime record.
Despite Bonds' big comeback, Magowan made clear he isn't interested in signing anyone for "marketing'' reasons in his Oct. 3 interview in the San Jose Mercury News. That remark hit Bonds hard, and Borris believes the insinuation wrongly suggests Bonds' main role has been as a marketing tool -- though he has been that, too. The San Francisco native is still considered a hometown hero (at least there, he is).
Is this the last we'll see of potential free
agent Barry Bonds in a Giants uniform?
"This is a guy for whom a statue should be erected and a street named after him,'' Borris said in response to the suggestion Bonds is a complementary player now. "'That would be more befitting a player of his stature."
Borris said Bonds has an understanding that this is often how the business of baseball works. But he's one player who may be too proud to return before taking what he considers a "bad'' deal.
The first sign Bonds did not relish Magowan's remarks came when he told an MLB.com reporter, "I saw where Peter Magowan said some nasty things. He wants me to take a pay cut. Well, that's OK. I don't have to play baseball anymore, brother. I'll be glad to stay home. I'm free. I feel very free."
The Giants also may not feel quite the same need to use Bonds as their main attraction, as the 2007 All-Star game will be played in their beautiful AT&T Park. However, it's questionable what impact that one showcase game will have if the team repeats its sub-.500 performances of the past two seasons.
Said Magowan, "The best way to market is to win. We've got to figure out what gives us the best chance to win."
Borris emphasized that Bonds "definitely" will play elsewhere if the Giants don't bring him back and that he would not retire -- much to commissioner Bud Selig's dismay, no doubt -- and suggested Bonds would shop himself around. Just as the Giants are considering their own options, so would Bonds consider his.
"The fact the Giants have 11 free agents concerns Barry," Borris said. "The No. 1 agenda for Barry Bonds is not Hank Aaron's home-run record. The No. 1 agenda is putting a World Series ring on his finger. So the Giants having 11 free agents concerns him. He's concerned with the composition of the team, as he would any team he might sign with."
Giants owner Peter Magowan may have
alienated his superstar as the time for
contract negotiations approaches.
Said Magowan: "We know all the baseball reasons we want Barry. But we also have to recognize all the needs we do have and what all that's going to cost.''
Magowan likened it to the 2001-02 offseason, when they signed Bonds to a five-year, $90 million deal and were still able to fill in players around him to field a World Series participant in 2002 and contending teams the following two years. "Now, we'll have to see whether it works out or not,'' Magowan said.
Baseball people believe a player of Bonds' still-considerable ability would find takers, though it's hard to know which ones would be willing to live with the baggage that comes with him. The federal government is still pursuing charges related to his grand-jury testimony in the BALCO case and he doesn't fit inconspicuously into any big-league clubhouse.
On a more mundane level, Bonds has been slowed some by knee problems this year, and some think he'd be better off switching to the DH position. But Borris was quick to point out that Bonds finished fifth in range factor out of 11 qualifying left fielders in the National League, behind only Alfonso Soriano, Dave Roberts, Jason Bay and Matt Murton, and that Bonds' fielding stats resemble the 1994 season, when he won one of his eight Gold Glove awards. This season he has 188 putouts in 115 starts, compared to 198 putouts in 112 starts in 1994, six assists compared to 10, and three errors, same as in '94.
"The numbers don't lie,'' Borris said. "Anybody who tries to make the claim that Barry doesn't portray the athleticism and ability to play defense is wrong. Because the numbers don't lie.''
While there's no evidence of outside interest at this point (teams are disallowed from declaring their intentions yet), potentially one interesting option could be the Los Angeles Dodgers, who badly need to add power and could have the opportunity to zing their archrival by acquiring Bonds as he's on the precipice of breaking Aaron's record. It would be interesting to see whether the Giants would chance watching Bonds break Aaron's record as a Dodger in their home park.
Regarding the Dodgers, Borris said, "That's a possible scenario we wouldn't rule out.''