Barry Bonds: A Fit for the Cardinals?

Should the St. Louis Cardinals sign the 44-year-old all-time home run king? Despite the baggage, Dustin Mattison asks, "Why not?"

Barry Bonds is definitely one of the most polarizing and controversial sports figures of this generation.  He is at best surly and it is widely known that he is not the best of teammates. 


As the St. Louis Cardinals look for a power bat and most of baseball turning their back the Home Run King, maybe Bonds and all his baggage would be a fit in St. Louis. This is Albert Pujols' team and Bonds seems to have respect for Pujols (In 2006, he was quoted as telling Pujols to "shatter it" referring to the Major League home run record).  The Cardinals are perennially one of the top teams in the National League and in this stage of his career, Bonds could be best benefited in not being in the spotlight and has stated numerous times he wants to win a World Series.


Let me state from the beginning, Bonds is not a perfect fit.  He brings a lot of baggage, including possible perjury charges and the suspicions of performance enhancing drugs.  But, if Cardinal fans can keep an open mind in regards to Mark McGwire and Rick Ankiel, would it not be hypocritical to not to keep an open mind in regards to Bonds?  Remember, he has not been convicted of anything, nor has he even been charged.


Tony La Russa is open to bringing in Bonds.  During last year's winter meetings, it was widely reported that La Russa requested a meeting with Bonds about coming to St. Louis.  Recently after signing an extension with the Cardinals, La Russa mentioned interest in Bonds, but concedes that he probably wants a large yearly salary and may not want to play the field at this point in his career.


Given where he is in his career, Barry Bonds is a part-time player.  No longer is his 43-year-old body capable of 500 at-bats; in fact he has not managed over 450 at bats since 2001, the year he hit 73 home runs.  In 2007, Bonds played in 126 games, notching 340 at bats.  The former Arizona State star hit 28 home runs or one in about every eight trips to the plate.  He is still an on-base machine and had an OPS of 1.045.  In almost 200 more at bats, Pujols hit only four more home runs and his OPS was .997.  Could there be better protection for Pujols in the cleanup spot than Barry Bonds, even if it is part time? 


I know, Bonds will turn 44 during the season.  Not being an every day player, he still made $15.5 million in 2007.  I am not saying the Cardinals should break the bank, especially with this team in such dire need of pitching.  But if Bonds could be brought in at a reasonable base, say $6 to $8 million with incentives that increase the value of the deal as he logs more at bats, why not take a roll of the dice?  One thing is certain; no other impact free agent bat on this year's market could be had at a one-year deal at that price.


Yes, Bonds is a Type A free agent according to the recently released Elias rankings.  The Cardinals have some built-in protection as they will have a top 15 draft pick so it would be their second-round pick the Cardinals might have to forfeit to the Giants.  The Cardinals will pick up a sandwich round pick if they offer arbitration to David Eckstein and/or Troy Percival and they instead sign elsewhere, so losing that pick could be a wash.


Admittedly, bringing Bonds in would be a big gamble due to the distractions he would bring with him.  But without a making a huge splash in free agency by giving out a multi-year, high dollar contract or giving up a piece of the farm system in a trade for an impact bat, is there a better option?  With this team in dire need of strengthening its rotation, a starting shortstop, and coming off a third-place finish, maybe this jolt to the system and thinking outside the box would be the perfect way for new General Manager John Mozeliak to start his tenure with the Cardinals. 


Even if it is not a perfect fit.



Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at


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