Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

End of the Bonds Era; Time to Move On by Ed Stern

Marty; There isn’t much left to say about the unfortunate Bonds interview the other day. The man is clearly in trouble and his troubles don’t reside solely in damaged knees. As said here recently, the courtroom is a different venue from a press conference. Bonds will not be able to exclude people he doesn’t approve of from the courtroom. The beat reporter from the Chronicle will remain in the courtroom whether Bonds approves of him or not.

Bonds has a narrow and incorrect view of what constitutes the media. The Chronicle, the focus of his disdain, is a San Francisco, Northern California, provincial paper. I daresay that Bonds didn’t read the national press, such as the New York Times. the day after his latest press conference. Under the Nixonian heading, “Won’t Be a Surly Superstar To Kick Around Anymore”, sportswriter Selena Roberts expressed her contempt for Bonds, as a person, in no uncertain terms, describing what she characterized as his “aversion to accountability”.

Fans Ed Stern is the most qualified person I know to comment on what lies ahead for Barry Bonds.

The Balco case hangs over his head. The case may come to trial during the regular season. If called as a witness, which would seem to be a likely scenario, Bonds is going to be required to explain some of his Grand Jury testimony. If any credence is given to his ex-mistress’ accounts of their relationship, as well as to what has been described as her Grand Jury testimony, income tax problems must be a source of concern. It might be noted that in his interview Bonds didn’t deny the truth of her assertions.

Bonds’ threat to quit playing is not to be taken seriously. He negotiated a contract revision recently which pays him twenty million dollars this year and eighteen million in 2006. It is highly unlikely he will walk away from that.

What does all of the above mean with respect to the fortunes of the club? Bonds has carried this team for years. It has been built and rebuilt, year after year, to take advantage of Bonds’ ability to dominate the game. It is self-evident that the club has to consider what steps they take to rebuild this elderly ball club in the soon to be, inevitable absence of Bonds, whether it is this year or at the concusion of his contract. The first place to look is to their farm system. A rethinking of their priorities is in order. A willingness to spend money on outstanding draft prospects should be forthcoming. Signing free agents such as Guerrero should no longer be out of the question. When Bonds leaves it will free up enough dollars to contemplate such moves.

As for this season, the Bonds’ misfortunes certainly change the odds. It will be interesting to see how they cope with the absence of Bonds for four weeks, two months or however long it takes. Feliz has to be brought into the picture as more than a utility player. If necessary to sit Alfonzo down, despite his outlandish salary, so be it. We have yet to see Feliz playing regularly. There are questions respecting his discipline at bat. He has shown enough promise, however, to provide a reasonable hope that he will be able to provide sufficient power to compensate to a significant extent, for the loss of Bonds, however long that should be.

The hope for a successful season, in addition to the hope that Bonds quickly overcomes all of his personal and physical problems, continues to be the strength of the pitching rotation. The outfield defense is still suspect but Bonds wasn’t much help there in any event.

With Williams’ fitness to start the year in the rotation questionable, the Giants have announced that they are looking for Foppert to fill the void until Williams is in shape. It is not outside the realm of possibility that Foppert, if given the chance to start, will be so successful that it will be difficult to remove him from the rotation. That will pose a problem when Williams is ready to assume his starting role.
This is a problem others would like to have. It defines the strength of the pitching. If the team is to dominate it is the pitching which will make the difference, with or without Bonds. It will be easier with Bonds.

See you on opening day.

Ed S.


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