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Archive for Saturday, October 1, 2005

Commentary: Giant question: What about Bonds?

October 1, 2005

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Barry Bonds posted a new journal entry on his Web site Thursday. As usual, it contained no real insight or information about his future. However, Bonds did express delight about his opportunity to meet Donald Rumsfeld during a special private tour of the Pentagon on the Giants' trip to Washington, D.C.

Bonds did not indicate what he discussed with the secretary of defense. But it would be great to have a tape of that conversation, wouldn't it?

Rumsfeld: "How do you think we're doing in Iraq, big fella?"

Bonds: "Secretary Rumsfeld, before you start asking me about my stance on Iraq, I think you should do some self-examination and tell me how much you have contributed to hurricane relief."

The man is quite consistent, really. He only tells you what he wants to tell you, which isn't much. With the Giants eliminated from playoff contention, you'd like to know what comes next from Bonds. You'd like to know what might happen this weekend, this off-season or next year.

Don't expect any answers or speculation from him, though. We all know that's not going to happen. We just have to go by what we see.

You can make your own best guesses about what Bonds will do in 2006. But what if you are the Giants' front office? For them, this is more than just water-cooler talk.

What can the team really expect from Bonds next season? And what should Giants' management do with the roster in terms of putting together a contending team by next spring?

General manager Brian Sabean said Thursday in San Diego that no real conclusions could be drawn from the brief time Bonds was active in 2005. With all due respect to Sabean, I beg to differ. Over these last three weeks, I think we have learned a lot about what to expect from Bonds next year.

One thing is, in the batter's box, there is still no one who can bring it the way Bonds can. The trouble is, there's no way he'll be in the batter's box as often as the Giants need him there. Under a best-case scenario, they can't rely on him to start more than 125 to 130 games in 2006 - and his knee could go haywire again even before he plays 70 or 80.

Another thing is, Bonds' personality is still Bonds' personality. If he does get injured again, he surely will seek to control his rehabilitation and the information about it in the same strange and bizarre way he did this season, keeping his bosses out of the loop.

One thing we learned the past few weeks in the games Bonds didn't play was this: The mere threat of having Bonds as a pinch hitter makes opposing teams react differently. So the Giants should start their own Web site called listenupbarry.com. And they should post weekly journals in the offseason, addressed to Bonds.

The first entry should read something like this:

Barry, we want you back next season. But we need you to play by some of our rules this time. One rule is, if you can take time to visit with Donald Rumsfeld, then you can certainly visit with our training staff over the winter, so that we know where your knee really stands.

That way, we will know what kind of players to try to acquire during the winter. If you don't want to cooperate, fine. But guess what? You'd better be ready to pinch hit a lot next season. Because we're going to find someone else to play left field.

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