Virtually none of it has been generated locally, but more than a few recent reports have suggested that Barry Bonds could end up in Oakland next season.
At first glance, the notion seems preposterous — and for good reason. But if you let the idea rattle around your skull for a bit, it starts to make more and more sense.
The cons are obvious: Bonds figures to be expensive; the A’s generally don’t do expensive. Bonds is a solo act; the A’s are all about clubhouse cohesion (just ask Ken Macha). And then there’s that legal time bomb, ticking loudly enough to hear from Fremont.
But there are just enough pros to make Bonds in white cleats a possibility.
» Bonds might not be as expensive as his agent wants us to think. If Frank Thomas doesn’t take the two-year, $15 million deal that A’s general manager Billy Beane reportedly offered him, that same deal could very well be enough to land Bonds.
Sure, Thomas had a better year than Bonds in 2006. He’s younger, too. But Bonds the DH will surely put up much better numbers than Bonds the left fielder, and Thomas’ ankle and foot make him no less of a health risk.
Baseball-wise, it’d be an even swap; declining-but-dangerous slugger for declining-but-dangerous slugger.
» Beane isn’t as enamored with clubhouse cohesion as it appears. He brought in Thomas, who was said to be something of a Bonds Lite in terms of selfishness in Chicago. Beane also brought in Milton Bradley, who was far from beloved by more than a few of his A’s teammates. And Beane brought in Esteban Loaiza, who cited traffic as the reason he missed the first team meeting of spring training (the meeting was held on a Sunday morning).
“Good chemistry is a byproduct of winning,” Beane likes to say. And if Bonds helps the A’s win games, the players will do the same thing they did with their public expressions of support for Bradley.
» Other than in San Francisco, if there’s anywhere in baseball that Bonds might be embraced, it’s Oakland. Or did you not hear the cheers that accompanied his 714th career homer, which was hit at McAfee Coliseum?
Sure, some of those cheers came from Giants fans who don’t have nice enough cell phones to get into their home park. But not all of them. A’s fans are nothing if not hardcore, and hardcore baseball fans tend to be forgiving as long as the player they’re forgiving is going yard on a regular basis.
Will it happen? Probably not. But the A’s have already punked the Giants by making their big stadium announcement in San Jose. They just might see signing the Giants’ meal ticket right before he breaks the home run record as another nice little poke in the eye.
Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito” and a writer for MLB.com.