Responses: Oakland Athletics, 3; Texas Rangers, 2; Seattle, 2; Los Angeles Angels, 1; St. Louis Cardinals, 1; New York Yankees, 1; Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, 1.
Three respondents predicted that Bonds will retire, and one executive said he'll be "in jail."
Judging from his 1.045 combined on base-slugging percentage and 28 homers in 340 at-bats, Bonds still has plenty to offer with a bat in his hands. "Dollar for dollar, he may be the biggest difference-maker available as far as number of wins he's going to put on the board for you," an AL general manager said.
Although it's not etched in stone that Bonds has to play in the AL, the designated hitter option ensures that teams there would be able to get the most out of him. But where? Oakland is the obvious choice for the usual reasons: It's a short trip across the San Francisco Bay, so Bonds wouldn't have to relocate to a new market where the fan reaction might be hostile. And Athletics general manager Billy Beane never has been afraid to go against the grain.
Will Barry Bonds find a new home? He needs 38 home runs to reach 800. "Bonds is a typical fit for what Billy usually does," an AL personnel man said. "He waits for the Mike Piazzas and Frank Thomases to not have a job, then brings those guys in. To me, [Bonds] fits their profile pretty well as a hitter."
Jack Cust hit 26 home runs in 395 at-bats last year, so the A's already have a low-cost, left-handed hitting alternative at DH. And they can live with an outfield of Nick Swisher in right, Mark Kotsay in center and a Travis Buck-Chris Denorfia platoon in left. But if it's January and Bonds magically falls out of the sky, rest assured that Beane won't categorically dismiss the possibility.
The Rangers, who disavow any interest in Bonds, make sense for a couple of reasons: They had pretty good luck with Sammy Sosa in 2007, and they need to upgrade an offense that ranked eighth in the AL with a .754 on base-slugging percentage.
Given Bonds' personality, off-field image and likely salary demands -- not to mention the upcoming release of the George Mitchell report -- this is a decision that's likely to be made above the general manager level.
"I think some owners are stepping in and saying, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' an AL assistant GM said. "The [home run] record is broken, and any sort of cachet you get from that is in the rearview mirror. Now you're looking more at the baggage."
3. Who would you want in center field, Torii Hunter or Andruw Jones?
Responses: Hunter, 14½; Jones, ½.
It's hard to believe that in 2005, Jones was coming off a 51-homer season and Scott Boras envisioned him as the crown jewel of the 2007-08 offseason. A .222 batting average will take a lot of luster off a player's image.
Even though Jones played at a lighter weight last season, he's not aging gracefully. He just won his 10th straight Gold Glove, but the consensus is that he's not the defender he used to be. He also lost points because of his failure to adjust at the plate, his seeming nonchalance and all-around regression last season. Jones posted a .413 slugging percentage -- lower than Melvin Mora, Kevin Millar, Kenny Lofton, Mark DeRosa, Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Bautista, to name a few.
"He has so much ability, it's ridiculous," a National League official said. "That's what he's relied on all these years. But now he has to kick in the afterburners, and it's just not happening."