Now that it is a day removed from the announcement that the Miami Marlins have parted ways with hitting instructor Barry Bonds, details of the possible reasons for the divorced between the National League team and MLB’s all-time home run leader are starting to emerge.
Bonds was hired after the 2015 at the request of team owner Jeffrey Loria. It was expected that Bonds, considered to be one of the greatest hitters of all time, would mentor Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and other up and coming Marlins stars.
It appears at some point, there may have been a disconnection between Bonds and the organization.
According to Yahoo Sports, in his only season as the team’s hitting coach, Bonds managed to improve the Marlins’ offense, but not by much. The club did post a .263 batting average, which ranked fourth in the league, but most of the other offensive numbers were middle of the pack. Miami ranked 13th with a .322 on-base percentage and 27th with a .394 slugging percentage. All told, the Marlins offense improved from 19th in 2015 to just 17th in 2016.
Those kinds of numbers were affected by the fact Stanton, the team’s right fielder and first baseman Justin Bour spent considerable time on the disabled list in the second half of the season. Also, Stanton was mired in a major slump the first half of 2016.
The story also points out it’s worth noting that Bonds managed to improve the club’s offense despite the fact that Giancarlo Stanton got hurt and Dee Gordon was lost for much of the season due to a PED suspension. Early in the season, Bonds received a ton of credit for his work with outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna turned in a solid year, posting a .266/.321/.452 slash line. He tied a career-high with 23 home runs.
I wrote in August about Bonds and the fact his contract would expire at the end of the 2016 season. The former San Francisco Giants slugger said he wanted to remain in Miami is the club would have him for another season.
"If they want me back [next season], I'll be back," Bonds said in wide-ranging interview, conducted for the group by MLB.com. Barry M. Bloom wrote about what Bonds had to say, which spoke volumes about his feelings about being part of this organization.
Bonds said he couldn't have conceived of acting as a full-time hitting coach this past offseason before Marlins owner Jeffry Loria called him about taking the job.
"Are you nuts?" Bonds told the crowd gathered in the stands behind home plate at Marlins Park, recalling his instant reaction.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Bonds wasn’t the only one to receive their walking papers on Monday. Third base coach Lenny Harris and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius are being replaced.
Craig Mish of SiriusXM stated on his Twitter account that issues between manager Don Mattingly and Bonds, as well as possible conflict with Stanton, the team’s leader in home runs, could have been part of the reasons for the decision.
There is no official statement from the Marlins as to the reason for the coaching changes. Miami finished the season 79-82, its seventh straight losing season.