Monday, February 25, 2008

Bonds on Deck?

In today's edition of the St. Pete Times there's an article about the Rays possibly kicking around the idea of signing Barry Bonds. For now the talks have been only internal and there has not been a formal meeting between Rays Execs and Bonds's agent Jeff Bormis. However, the article did mention that Borris is in Tampa this week as is Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg. If Bonds is signed it would create a log-jam at RF/DH as one of the projected trio of Gomes/Floyd/Baldelli would most likely go elsewhere.

Even if this is just a juicy little rumor, at this point it's fun to speculate on what a Rays lineup would look like with Bonds. Here is a projection with Bonds.

2B Iwamura
LF Crawford
1B Pena
CF Upton
DH Bonds
RF Baldelli/Floyd/Gomes*
3B Longoria*
C Navarro
SS Bartlett

*We assume RF will consist of 2 of the 3 names mentioned. Also, until Joel Guzman and Willy Aybar show up we will have Evan penciled in for opening day.

Now we will just look at the lineup in terms of OPS+ with of 100 being an average player. Anything over 100 is considered above average and below 100 below average. All numbers are from 2007 with one projection for Evan Longoria. From the top:


*Evan Longoria's projected OPS+ based on a terribly complicated formula by taking the average OPS+ of two players he has been compared to: Alex Gordon and Ryan Braun.

That is one scary lineup. It may be a little left handed heavy with four out of the top five, but when those are your best players you have to play them. Rocco's 65 stands out in the middle of the lineup, but we, like everyone, are holding out hope that Rocco can play this year at the level he played at in 2006 when he came back to post a 122 OPS+.

Buster Olney touched on this topic today in his ESPN.com blog. He basically says that signing Bonds would make a whole lot of sense, for the right price. He gives us four reasons why this deal may happen.

"1. At this point, Bonds might be willing to play for far less than he played for last year, when he earned a base salary of about $17 million -- and he would be a natural attendance draw for the Rays.

2. Bonds's patience at the plate is something that the young and developing Rays' hitters could learn from over a long season.

3. In a new place, on a new team, and in a short-term situation, Bonds's allegedly stifling clubhouse presence (read between the lines in the quotes from the Giants' players last week) might not be any kind of problem at all.

4. Most importantly: A lineup with Bonds, who racked up a .480 on-base percentage last year, makes the Rays a better team."

He goes on to say that the Rays are "not going to win the AL East this year", but "are going to have a whole lot to say about who does win the division; you could argue that they might be the reason why only one team might make the playoffs out of the deep AL East."

The Rays can play spoiler for another year or two before they make their descent toward the playoffs.