When asked about recruiting to get a marquee player, Barry said that he doesn't get into it until the team asks him to and also talked about the need for the Giants to win a championship. "It's time. We have been flirting around with this for too long. We have a beautiful stadium, we have a sold-out stadium on a regular basis. I feel the fans deserve it. The city deserves it. I'm tired of looking at a 1954 World Series and not in the 2000s. And I want to be in a Giants uniform when we win a World Series."
When asked if he would be willing to do something in addition to the deferred payments with his contract if it will help the Giants win the World Series, he said the following: "I'd be willing to do anything to win a World Series. They know how I feel about that. I had expressed my opinions to them about that. They know that I feel strongly that it's time, that I feel strongly that it is due here in the city. No need to have a poster child anymore, it's time to win. This organization is a first class organization, and this organization need to show San Francisco city and fans how first class it really is."
Does anything include tearing up the contract and playing for the love of the game? ;^) But seriously, short of him tearing up the contract like McGwire basically did and taking less dollars in a new contract, there really isn't much he can do to help out unless we get really innovative with the contract.
For an extreme example, Bonds is due to get $20M ($5M deferred) each year for the next three seasons, or $60M. Why can't we restructure it to be, say, a 15 year contract at say $5M per year? With the current low interest rate, the extra $15M covers interest approximately. (FYI, for those financial mavens out there, the internal rate of return on that cash flow is 4.0% so that's a pretty good rate for the long term). Then, after we officially waive him and he retires, we just carry his salary each year until 2018 even though he's not playing - just pretend the money is for Marvin Benard for each of those years. That's basically what a lot of teams did in the past couple of years, releasing players and eating $5-10M in salary each year. This would clear up $15M/yr over the next three years, big enough to sign a Vlad or another key offensive player. Plus some familiar side dishes, like Snow, Galarraga, Worrell, or Aurilia, if the high impact player can backload some salary.
But you get the basic idea: why not stretch out the dollars into years where Barry is not expected to play but he can retire and still be paid his money anyway, with some interest. Just insert the number of years that satisfies both the Giants and Barry. Presto, the Giants have the money to get a high impact player and a better chance to win it all while Barry is here. Plus Barry gets to pass on his secrets and train him. Who knows, maybe Bud will enact a rule to prevent this kind of contracts and call it the "Barry Bonds Rule".
Or perhaps there are more creative ways. I'm only giving this one extreme example. Another example is Barry could make the money interest free instead, which would make the amount $4M/year instead of $5M/year. Whatever it takes to free up payroll for this year, the Giants need to talk with Barry about a mutually acceptable way of "building the nest egg" that Sabean talked about in his first off-season press conference.
Barry the Fan
I don't think people realize how huge Barry's offer is. Barry didn't have to offer to do anything. This is a side of Barry that many people don't realize: Barry has always been a Giants fan and still is a big Giants fan even while he is playing for the team. He loves San Francisco and he loves the Giants. That's why he came home and that's why he didn't pursue free agency wholeheartedly (he's no fool either and want to be paid what he's worth, hence his hiring of Boras as his agent).
He grew up in the area, grew up idolizing his father and Willie Mays, who were San Francisco Giants, and grew up imagining himself hitting home runs for his home team like his godfather and his father did. And now that he has grown up and is actually living that dream, he is now hoping to bring to life the other dream that all young baseball-playing boys have while growing up: hitting the key hit that wins the World Series for your favorite team. It's the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, and you need to get the key hit to drive in the winning run... and WINNAH!!!
Succession Plan: How Soon is Now?
In any case, I agree whole-heartedly with Barry that now is the time to to get Barry's successor. There will be those who will say that the Giants management has already said that the Giants won't pursue a high-impact player, so stop your lobbying. Not so fast, cleet-face.
What the Giants management has consistently said is that the Giants, right now, cannot afford to get a high-impact player but if they were able to gather up enough acorns to make a nice nest egg, then they might be able to. They have also repeatedly said that the Giants top management are aware that Barry won't last forever and that they need to, at some point, think about "replacing" him, the sooner the better, and ideally while Barry is still here ("dovetailing with Barry"), because they need a full stadium to pay off the hefty mortgage on their lovely abode.
Barry the Giants fan saying that he would do anything to allow the Giants to bring in a marquee player should get the ball rolling where Sabean and his posse talk with Barry and his posse about how they can, like Wimpy, gladly pay Bonds Tuesday for a Vlad-burger today.
It is Time to Put Up or Shut Up
Because Bonds isn't getting any younger. If there is ever a year for the Giants to "color outside the lines" and spend an extra $10-15M, this is the year to do it. Bonds will be 40 years old next season. He cannot defy nature forever, as much as I hope he does for the rest of his contract. We can be reasonably sure he will have a pretty good season in 2004 but have no such guarantees about 2005 or 2006, as much as I want to will it so, though he could pull a Ted Williams and just keep it going at a high performance level into his 40's.
Many fans disagree about how to achieve a winning team in 2004, but we all agree that it will take a lot more money to do it. Something like I proposed above for restructuring Bonds' contract would do it but if the team can pony up some extra money for 2004 too, that would be better. The Giants should spend extra money this year and take a bigger loss this year, while Bonds is still the offensive force that he is as we don't know what the future holds but his age suggests less performance.
In addition, Nen's contract plus others (Neifi, Christensen, Grissom) come off the books in 2005 which will free up cash to cover the extra payroll of the marquee player going forward. Do whatever it takes to make this extra cash happen in 2004: get new investors (hit up some more Dot-com and Venture Capital millionaires or even better billionaires), restructure contracts, find a company willing to pay naming rights for the walkway behind right field, find a company willing to pay for the official rights to supply athletic supporters to the Giants, anything that will raise cash in 2004 to pay for the increase in payroll in 2004.
Whatever it Takes
The Giants owners have got to do whatever it takes. In addition to whatever Bonds the life-long Giants Fan is willing to do to help out, the owners need to shell out more money now because there could be a severe downturn in his offensive performance any year now. And if that does happen and if his replacement is not in place, the team will have to pay through the nose for that player when the opportunity presents itself because they will know that the Giants would be in desperate straits because of the way our offense is structured around a dominant player.
As Bonds said and I'll extend it, the fans deserve it, the city deserves it, the San Francisco Bay Area deserves it, Northern California deserves it, the Giants ownership deserves it, and, most of all from my viewpoint, one of the Giants biggest fans - Barry Bonds - deserve it. Make it so Giants.
Martin Lee writes 'A Biased Giant's Fanatic's View' for SFDugout.com when the mood and muse strikes him. He wants to teach and share his love of baseball and, in particular, his love for the San Francisco Giants. He will believe to his dying days that Bobby Bonds was robbed of being the first 40-40 player and should be in Cooperstown. Please feel free to e-mail him at BiasedGiantsFanatic@yahoo.com if you have a question or comment.
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