Bonds, Alou Should Both Go
by Glenn Dickey
Sep 07, 2005

THE IMMEDIATE futures of Barry Bonds and Felipe Alou are intertwined.

Alou has become a major embarassment to the Giants, primarily because of his over-the-top comments about ďa messenger from SatanĒ in the wake of the Larry Krueger rant on KNBR, but also because of his managerial style. His mishandling of the pitching staff led to a public criticism by reliever Jason Christiansen. Though Christiansen is gone, his criticism showed that Alou no longer commands the respect of his players.

My assumption has been that the Giants would encourage Alou to take a settlement on his contract, which was extended through 2006 earlier this season, to defuse the controversy and problems Alouís return would cause.

A different theory was advanced by my friend, Marty Lurie, who believes it would be unfair to bring in a new manager to have to deal with Bonds next year. It would be better to wait a year, when Bonds will be gone, to bring a fresh face into the managerís office.

The question marks surrounding Bonds arenít the only problems. Though the Giants have gone with the youth movement with their pitchers, two months late, they still have position players they canít afford to dump. If they canít trade either Edgardo Alfonzo or Ray Durham, theyíll have them both on the roster next season, at $6.5 and $7 million, respectively, which would chase Pedro Feliz back to the outfield.

That would make it awfully crowded. Randy Winn will be in center; heís not the second coming of Willie Mays, but heís better than anybody else the Giants have. Moises Alou will be at one of the corner spots because the Giants need his bat. That leaves Todd Linden, whoís looking more and more like a big hitter, the ball just jumping off his bat; Jason Ellison, who played well as a rookie before being demoted; and Feliz, who leads the Giants in home runs and RBIs.

And, of course, a man named Bonds.

BUT WILL Bonds be back?

Heís now taking batting practice, and thereís been much speculation that heíll be able to return this month. Certainly, the Giants could use his bat because theyíre still in the race in the pathetic NL West, but general manager Brian Sabean threw a little cold water on that yesterday, saying that everything Bonds is doing is in a controlled atmosphere. He isnít having to make the starts and stops that would be required if he were running the bases or playing in the field.

Meanwhile, Bonds has been saying the Giants canít trade him, and as a 5-and-10 player (at least five years with one team, 10 in the majors) he can block any trade. Not to mention that the Giants have absolutely no control over Bonds.

That doesnít mean heíll be in a San Francisco uniform for the 2006 season, though. It probably wonít be in the best interests of either Barry or the Giants.

Even last year, Bonds was pretty shaky in the field. He paced himself, going all out only for the most important plays. Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan said a good highlights video could be made of Bondsí best plays, but itís also true that a longer video could be made of those plays Bonds just let go.

So, if weíre talking of a Bonds who will be two years older than he was in 2004, who has come off three knee surgeries. . . How effective will he be in the field? Even if the Giants would be willing to let him imitate a statue in left field, could his knees hold up with the starts and stops?

There are other elements, too. One of the biggest reasons for injuries in baseball is the nature of the game, in which players spend so much time just standing and then are suddenly called on to make a quick movement. With Bonds, thatís multiplied because he walks so much. We know heíll be on base frequently, so there will be many times when heíll have to be almost stationary Ė until somebody hits the ball and he has to move suddenly.

If Bonds tries to play most of the games in left Ė even he admits heíd have to take more games off Ė I think the most likely scenario is that, after 2-3 games, his knee would swell up again and heíd have to take at least that much time off.

Being a part-time player and pinch-hitter wouldnít give him much chance to pursue the Babe Ruth/Hank Aaron career home run records. So, it makes sense for both Bonds and the Giants to trade him to an American League club, where he could be the designated hitter.

That team wonít be the Aís, and the speculation that heíd go there is ridiculous. The Aís entire payroll is about $60 million. As much as general manager Billy Beane admires Bonds Ė he told me BEFORE Bonds started his big home run push that he was the biggest offensive force in baseball Ė the A's wonít add $18 million to that for one player.

Nor will it be the two highest revenue teams in the American League, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Both already have high-priced, productive designated hitters, Jason Giambi for the Yankees, David Ortiz for the Red Sox.

The only AL team that would be willing to pay Bondsí salary would be the Anaheim Angels, whose owner, Artie Moreno, has already shown a willingness to expand his budget for a top-line player when he signed Vladimir Guerrero as a free agent. That would be a good fit for Bonds, who is making his home in the Los Angeles basin now.

I suspect Bonds is using his leverage with his public statements about not being traded, so the Angels would agree to extend his contract another year, which he will need to challenge Aaronís record. I donít know whether Moreno would agree to that, but even if he doesnít, I think Bonds will agree to a trade because itís better to be the DH every day than to sit on the bench unable to play consistently for the Giants.

IF THE GIANTS no longer had Bondsí salary on their books, theyíd have more payroll flexibility. They could also be more realistic about what they need in their everyday lineup, instead of just filling in with mediocre older players.

And, they could quietly get rid of Alou as manager. He was the perfect choice to replace Dusty Baker, but the events of the summer have dramatically altered that situation. Itís time for him to go.



TOMORROW: I had intended to write about the Cal quarterbacks today but didnít get a chance to talk to Jeff Tedford yesterday. Iíll do that today and write about Cal tomorrow.

What do YOU think? Let me know!

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