Your 2006 Giants: Dear Barry, Won't You Come Out and Play-hey-HEY!
Dear Barry, greet the brand new day-hey-HEY.
The sun is up, the sky is blue,
It's beautiful, so catch a clue,
Dear Barry, won't you come out to play?"
By the Beatles if they were teammates on the 2006 Giants and rewrote "Dear Prudence"
I've been putting out a giant tome of how I see the Giants doing in the upcoming season for a number of years now but due to personal and work issues, I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it all wrapped up before the season starts. So I'm going to do things in piecemeal fashion and put them out as they flow out of my fingers into the keyboard in a series of article, this being the first, which will focus on LF for the most part and our key player, Barry Bonds.
My Name is Barry, Barry Bonds
I think most people hear about other people who know that the breakup is coming soon so these other people are already meeting other people and preparing for the breakup such that they have their new partner when the breakup is official. I think Barry's one of those thinking ahead to future possibilities and looking beyond his baseball career. And acting appears to be his choice, after all, he did put in an appearance on 90210 many years (and pounds) ago.
Barry's inner thespian was coming to the fore with his Paula Abdul impersonation for the Giants Idol competition/ritual rookie hazing and his reality program, which appears to be one big audition by Barry to help him transition into another area of the Entertainment field after his ballplayer days are over and his personal services contract with Magowan starts up. And it sounds like he did a great job doing the whole drag thing so it might work, maybe there will be a sequel to "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Love Julie Newmar" that he can audition for, I think Wesley Snipes has hung up his inner drag queen (Patrick Swayse, not so much, I'm sure he's all for another payday).
"Act-TING" as John Lovitz used to exclaim on SNL as Master Thespian. Yeah, that's the ticket. He's the acting-meister, he's acting. Maybe he can get on "Dancing with the Stars" after this season, that is, if he retires by then. Or maybe get into a dance off with Jerry Rice, won't that be something?
Does He See His Shadow?
But there's still the little matter of the last year of his monster contract before he gets deep into all that acting nonsense. As it is most seasons, the Giants fortunes shine or fade depending on their star nonpareil, Barry Bonds. But unlike previous seasons, they will have to wait until game day for Barry to stick his head up from his barcalounger to see if he can see his shadow - if he can, then there will be at least six more innings of play before he leaves the game for a defensive substitution, most probably Steve Finley; if he can't then Steve Finley will start in CF, shifting Winn to LF.
Like most over-the-hill hitters say, "I can still hit, it's just my body won't cooperate anymore," so the question is not whether he can hit but whether his body won't cooperate anymore. Barry is reaching that point. Will his knee cooperate? Who knows. He has not given any clues yet on what's happening other than that it is feeling good. In fact, he said recently that his brace for his right knee is his new best friend because he doesn't feel any pain when he is using it in the field. So that sounds good, right?
Oooo, Pick Me Coach!
Right now the over-under is 100 games for Barry, 120 games if he's feeling good. That leaves Steve Finley 42-62 games plus DH games (that was 9 games in 2005; FYI, the DH's hit .379/.444/.553/.996 for the Giants in 2005 and that's STILL worse than what Bonds have done the past few years, amazing) to play in Bonds absence plus all the games he will get in as defensive replacement late in the game, when Barry is bushed and/or the game is out of reach. Moises will probably contribute about 20 games and Winn another 10 games, for a total of 81-101 games to play in the outfield for Finley to show that he's not over the hill and can garner another big contract, at least for another year.
I think as long as Barry's body holds up, he's going to put in a good 120 games, like Hammering Hank did in his waning days, and, unlike Aaron, hit like he has the past few years and not like an over the hill hitter. Over .300 BA, over .400 OBP (.500+ again?), over .600 SLG, with 30-40 homers. Ted Williams was able to stroke it good his last season too, but just in limited play as well, and I think Barry is a comparable player in terms of physical condition, demeanor, and hitting abilities.
In addition, I think Steve Finley will do well for the Giants this season, his last month with the Angels showed that he was finally healthy and hitting like he did before and I think that will carry into this season, as long as HIS body holds up. If he can do this, there will be only a slight drop off in offensive production in LF relative to the drop the Giants experienced going from Barry to Feliz in terms of production in 2005. Plus, if Linden is doing well in AAA again, the Giants might trade Finley, assuming he's playing well, to another pennant contender and pick up a prospect or two for him, just to shed the salary and perhaps set up another trade to add back on the salary but at another position of need.
And should, shudder, Barry's acting career starts sooner than expected, then I think Steve Finley will play up to his recent past abilities and be a passable substitute in LF, unlike Feliz in 2005 (not that there's anything wrong with what he did, he's just being Feliz, you can't blame him for that). Finley has kept himself in pretty good shape and rarely has any injury. His only problem is age, being 41 himself sometime this year, if I recall correctly.
And should he fail as well, then I think Linden will be able to pull off a Feliz-like performance in LF, for the most part, his numbers in AAA the past couple of seasons are similar to how Feliz did in AAA. This worse case scenario won't necessarily doom our season as Feliz for Bonds didn't do in the Giants, it was that plus Marquis turning into a Nova, literally in Spanish, and Alfonzo proving that he COULD go lower than the past two seasons, plus Vizquel not really hitting well after April, plus Ellison going cold, plus Niekro not hitting after injury, plus Snow finally not hitting well on the road as well as at home, and Durham and Alou missing a good number of games, plus none of the starters doing very well for the first 2-3 months of the season, plus most of the relievers not doing very well for the first 2-3 months of the season (did I miss anybody?).