Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bonds Career at End, Some Say

Ann Killion had a column the other day discussing whether this is the end for Bonds. She has been a columnist who has been pretty good about being objective about Bonds - she was one of the few to note that most outside people misinterpreted Bonds' "wipe out Ruth" statement - and she was no different here. She was pretty even-handed in her handling of Bonds in the article.

But she brought up a topic that some fans and other columnists have been bringing up, that perhaps Bonds is on his final legs, that this could be the end of him. And she noted, a bit more ominously than I would have put it, that he has been "very, very quiet" with his hitting so far. A fan noted on McCovey Chronicles that Aaron hit only 12 and 10 homers his last two seasons. And maybe that is correct, ultimately, that Bonds was on his last legs this season.

What Have You Done For Me Tomorrow?

However, like most things about the Giants this season, people make too much of very little so far. Fans were digging into the bullpen, Niekro, Feliz, and Matheny the first month - and rightly so, they were hitting terribly - and now they are targeting Vizquel and the bullpen still. But the sky is not falling.

As much as people like to make fun of the NL West - and I've been one of them - one pattern that I've noticed over the past few years is that in April, when the NL West plays each other, nobody is doing much of anything in intra-division play, they battle to .500 and don't get too far ahead. Then we head into May where we get into intra-league play and suddenly, one by one, the NL West teams go into one win streak after another, following each other like clockwork, and one team would surge ahead, then another would surge to catch them, then a third would surge and catch them, then we start all over again. So the West has been beating up regularly on somebody, I'm not sure who as I don't have time to see which teams are getting beat up for these streaks, but this pattern has held up for the past 3-4 seasons now.

With small samples - April - which was complicated by rains and abbreviated spring training for a lot of players, there is going to be a lot of players who are doing poorly and others who do well. It depends on where each player is in his life - young or old - career - young or established or older vet - that throws most predictive analysis out the window, this year more than most. And in even the best circumstances, small sampling will almost always be not representative of what the player is capable.

That's how I was able to win my Fantasy League last year, even though I had Bonds, Alfonzo, Durham, Feliz, Schmidt, and Benitez on my opening roster - people gave up on players like Lance Berkman, Andy Pettitte, Ryan Freel, and others, whom I picked up for nothing and allowed me to climb from the cellar and win (well, that and 8 of the 12 teams were abandoned by mid-season, resulting in DLed players filling roster spots, and allowing me to pick up great young players like Rickie Weeks and Ryan Howard and Matt Cain uncontested).

Bonds is Bonds

What some people have forgotten after years of unrelentingly outstanding performance is that Bonds historically has started slow, having bad Aprils and maybe Mays, then heated up with the weather. So while this is new to the Bonds-come-lately's, this is old-hat to Giants followers who are a bit older.

And give the old guy a break. Bonds doesn't hit a homer in 22 at-bats and he's been quiet? He has 6 homers, that's still not chopped liver, that works out to around 25-30 homers in a season, not Bondsian in size, but not anything to sneeze at either. And he hasn't really warmed up yet, so that could bring that up higher if he does warm up.

But it is true that it could be his final gasp. The only problem is that it is too soon to be speculating on something like that. Fans were saying that about Alfonzo his first season here but then around mid-season he went on a huge streak of hitting just before the ASG, he was valuable to us when he was hitting like that. However, last year he couldn't turn it on and it was clear since he had no injury problem that he's pretty washed up and he didn't play as much for the rest of the season.

We will have a better view of Bonds' condition when we get into mid-June. If this is really the end, that means that what he has been doing so far this season continued into June and he's still flailing about. By that time, teams will have figured out that he's spent and his OBP will take a huge hit as teams stop walking him automatically and start pitching to him. And if he cannot at least take walks for us in the lineup, he'll be useless to us and frankly an embarassment to himself, his team, and to the legacy of his career, I can see him retiring if it ever came to that (though I see him taking the money and run, unlike McGwire who turned down his money, by placing himself on the DL and staying there the rest of the season).

Frankly, I don't think that will happen though. Hitting like the way he and Ted Williams hit, it is a discipline and concentrated effort that pays off in getting pitches that result in a high-percentage of hits. What's different this year is that he has not been as focused and I think part of that is the intense media coverage regarding both Balco and passing Ruth, part of that is his unrelenting tireness, which is a result of his inability to prepare as he normally does during the off-season to condition his body for the long haul of a baseball season, and part of that is he has been distracted by his Bonds on Bonds TV show for ESPN, which to me is a clear sign that he is preparing for a post-baseball career and that he won't be playing that many more years, probably just 2007 at best, 1000 HR nonsense or not.

I think he knew going into the season that he wouldn't be 100 percent and thus he will not have that great a season in 2006. I think that is one motivator to playing more games, to pile up stats as much as he can so it doesn't look that bad overall. The goal is to get through this season OK but then to prepare the hell out of his body in the off-season for his swan-song season and have the type of season that he would be happy to end his career on.

He doesn't want to go the Willie Mays or even the Hank Aaron route of having a number of subpar seasons at the end. He wants to go out like Ted Williams did, ideally by hitting a homer in his last AB and then walking off into the sunset. He wants to go out on a relative high, like Williams did with his final season, coming back after a subpar season, and putting in a nice bookend on his career.

That's also partly because I think that he doesn't want to pass Hank Aaron, deep down, any more than anyone else wants to see him do that. He knows what Hammering Hank had to go through to reach that record, the death threats, the racism, and that's the story that will be told if Aaron stays the leading HR hitter in MLB history. Whereas if he took the lead, the story will be steroids, Balco, and his long feud with the media. I think he understands his and Aaron's place in history, unlike, say, Jeff Kent, who is so self-absorbed that he cannot take the time to read about the history of our great game and learn about the history and the players who came before him, he only cares about popping wheelies on his motorcycle when his team was counting on him to be a major cog of the team.

1 comment:

  1. oh my lord. every time i read something by ann killion on bonds it just makes me mad. i'm glad you see her as even-handed, because i see her as a bitter barry-hater, from reading her columns over the past year or so. i hope i'm just overreacting.

    --tk

    ReplyDelete

Labels

1984 Draft (1) 2007 Draft (15) 2007 Giants (52) 2008 Draft (22) 2008 Giants (53) 2008 season (6) 2009 Draft (18) 2009 Giants (87) 2009 season (24) 2010 Decade (10) 2010 Draft (11) 2010 Giants (137) 2010 NL ROY award (1) 2010 season (19) 2010's (3) 2011 Draft (9) 2011 Giants (84) 2011 season (8) 2012 Draft (11) 2012 Giants (93) 2012 season (11) 2013 Draft (3) 2013 Giants (39) 2013 season (5) 2014 (1) 2014 draft (5) 2014 Giants (72) 2014 season (16) 2015 season (1) 25 man roster (7) 3B (1) 40 Man Roster (4) 49ers (1) 6-man rotation (1) 89 Quake (1) 89 World Series (1) A's (6) A-Ball (1) A-Gon (1) A-Rod (3) AA-Ball (1) Aaron Rowand (25) accomplishments (1) ace pitcher (1) Adalberto Mejia (4) Adam Duvall (3) AFL (4) Alex Hinshaw (3) Alex Pavlovic (1) All-Star Game (1) almost perfect game (1) Amphetamine (2) analysis (6) Andre Torres (14) Andres Torres (2) Andrew Susac (5) Andy Baggerly (2) Andy Sisco (1) Angel Joseph (1) Angel Pagan (10) Angel Villalona (29) Anniversary (1) appendicitis (1) Aramis Garcia (1) Arbitration (12) Armando Benitez (5) Armando Gallaraga (1) art of failure (1) assessment (1) At the Rate They Are Going (1) ATT Park (1) Aubrey Huff (20) Award (4) BABIP (2) Barry Bonds (29) Barry Zito (77) Baseball America (2) Baseball Prospectus (2) Baseball Prospectus Bias Against Giants (3) baseball strategy (5) Baseball Study (14) baserunning (2) batting peripherals (1) batting stance analysis (1) batting title champion (1) Beat LA (6) bench players (1) Bengie Molina (14) Benjamin Snyder (1) Bert Blyleven (1) best manager (1) Beyond the Box Score (1) Bias Against Giants (1) Big 6 (7) Bill Hall (1) Bill James Handbook (2) Bill Mueller (1) Bill Neukom (21) Billy Beane (2) Blog Philosophy (2) Bob Howry (2) Bob Mariano (1) Bobby Evans (1) Brad Hennessey (5) Brad Penny (2) Brandon Bednar (1) Brandon Belt (38) Brandon Crawford (18) Brandon Hicks (1) Braves (5) breakout (1) Brett Bochy (3) Brett Pill (9) Brian Anderson (1) Brian Bocock (2) Brian Cooper (1) Brian Horwitz (3) Brian Ragira (2) Brian Sabean (42) Brian Wilson (14) Bridegrooms (2) Bruce Bochy (23) Bucky Showalter (1) bulllpen (1) Bullpen (23) Bumgarner (1) Business Plan (13) Buster Posey (93) Byung-Hyun Kim (1) Cained (4) call-ups (3) Candlestick Park (1) Cards (13) Career Prospects (3) Carl Hubbell (1) Carlos Beltran (4) Carlos Gomez (1) Carney Lansford (2) Carter Jurica (1) catcher injury (4) catching (1) CC Sabathia (1) censorship (2) CEO (2) Chad Gaudin (5) Charles Culberson (5) Charlie Culberson (3) Chase Johnson (2) Chillax (1) Chris Brown (1) Chris Gloor (1) Chris Heston (3) Chris Lincecum (1) Chris O'Leary (1) Chris Ray (4) Chris Stewart (4) Chris Stratton (8) Christian Arroyo (3) Christmas (1) Christopher Dominguez (4) Christy Mathewson (1) Chuckie Jones (2) Clay Hensley (3) Clayton Blackburn (5) Clayton Tanner (3) Closer (7) closer by committee (3) Coaches (3) Cody Hall (1) Cody Ross (8) Col (1) Comeback Award (1) Commissioner (1) comparison (1) competitiveness (1) Conor Gillaspie (22) contender (1) contract negotiations (2) contract signing (4) Cory Hart (1) Craig Whitaker (2) cuts (1) Cy Young Award (5) D-backs (14) D-gers (31) D-Rocks (3) D-Rox (16) Dallas McPherson (1) Dan Ortmeier (11) Dan Otero (2) Dan Runzler (6) Dan Uggla (1) Daniel Slania (2) Darren Ford (1) Dave Roberts (11) David Aardsma (1) David Huff (2) David Loewenstein (1) Decade of the Giants (10) decline (1) Defense (8) Deferred Money (1) deleted comment (1) Derek Law (4) Detroit Tigers (1) DFA (3) DH (2) Dick Tidrow (1) dictionary (1) Dirty (1) DL (1) dodgers (6) Donald Snelten (1) Draft (3) Draft Analysis (8) Draft Bonus (7) draft list (1) draft signing (3) Draft Strategy (11) Draft Study (2) Draft Success (2) drafting (1) Dres (16) DRS (1) Edgar Renteria (13) Edwin Escobar (5) Ehire Adrianza (14) Eli Whiteside (4) Elimination game (1) EME (2) Emmanuel Burriss (18) epic season (6) Eric Byrnes (1) Eric Surkamp (6) Erik Cordier (1) Eugenio Velez (12) evaluation (1) extension (6) fanfest (1) Fielding (4) Fielding Stats (4) finger injury (1) first post-season press conference (2) Francisco Peguero (4) Fred Lewis (3) Freddie Lewis (17) Freddie Sanchez (4) Freddy Sanchez (7) Free Agency (4) Free agent possibilities (17) Free agent signing (4) Free agent signings (21) gamer-tude (1) Gary Brown (23) Geno Espinelli (1) George Kontos (3) Ghosts of Giants Drafts (1) Giants (2) Giants blogs (2) Giants Chat (3) Giants Defense (1) Giants Draft (7) Giants Drafts (2) Giants Farm System (29) Giants Franchise record (2) Giants Future (62) Giants GM (4) Giants Greats (2) Giants hitting manual (1) Giants No-Hitter (4) Giants Offense (23) Giants Offseason (21) Giants Pitching (1) Giants Strategy (34) GiDar (1) Gino Espinelli (1) glossary (1) good will (1) Graphical Player (1) Gregor Blanco (13) Gregor Moscoso (1) Guillermo Moscoso (2) Guillermo Mota (2) Guillermo Quiroz (1) Gustavo Cabrera (3) Hall of Fame (7) Hall of Shame (3) Hank Aaron (5) Happy Holidays (2) Hate mail (1) heart-warming (1) Heath Hembree (8) Hector Correa (1) Hector Sanchez (9) Henry Sosa (8) HGH (1) high expectations (1) high school focus in draft (1) Hitter's League (1) Hitting (15) Hitting Coach (1) hitting mechanics (3) hitting pitchers (2) hitting streak (1) Hitting; (1) Home Run Career Record (7) Home Run Hitting Contest (1) Hunter Pence (20) Hunter Stickland (1) Hunter Strickland (3) Idea (4) improvement (1) Indictment (1) injury (2) instant replay (2) instructor (1) Interesting Question (1) International Free Agent Pursuits (3) International Signings (5) interview (3) Investment (1) Ivan Ochoa (2) Jack Taschner (4) Jackson Williams (2) Jacob Dunnington (1) Jacob McCasland (1) Jake Dunning (1) Jake Peavy (10) Japanese Starters (1) Jarrett Parker (5) Jason Heyward (1) Jason Stoffel (1) Javier Lopez (5) JC Gutierrez (2) Jean Machi (1) Jeff Kent (1) Jeff Suppan (1) Jeremy Affeldt (10) Jeremy Shelley (1) Jerome Williams (1) Jesse English (2) Jesse Foppert (1) Jesus Guzman (4) Joaquin Arias (9) Joe Panik (12) Joe Torre (1) Joey Martinez (2) Johan Santana (1) John Bowker (22) Johneshwy Fargas (2) Johnny Bench (1) Johnny Monell (1) Johnny Rucker (1) Jonah Arenado (1) Jonathan Mayo (1) Jonathan Sanchez (48) Jose Canseco (1) Jose Casilla (1) Jose Guillen (3) Jose Mijares (3) Jose Uribe (2) Josh Osich (3) JT Snow (1) Juan Perez (5) Juan Uribe (9) Juggling Monkey (1) Just Say No (1) Kendry Flores (1) Keury Mella (1) Kevin Correia (2) Kevin Frandsen (22) Kevin Pucetas (10) Kung Fu Panda (30) Kyle Crick (10) Larry Baer (2) Larry Ellison (1) Lead-off (2) left-handed (1) Lew Wolff (1) LHP (1) Lineup (17) lineup construction (1) Lineup position (1) Long-Term Contract (21) long-term planning (3) luck (1) Luis Angel Mateo (2) Mac Williamson (5) Madison Bumgarner (133) Mailbox (1) Malcolm Gladwell (1) management change (3) management issues (5) managerial value (3) Manny (1) Marc Kroon (2) Marco Scutaro (11) Mark DeRosa (8) Martin Agosta (6) Marvin Miller (1) Masahiro Tanaka (1) Mason McVay (1) Matsuzaka (1) Matt Cain (130) Matt Downs (2) Matt Graham (1) Matt Holliday (1) Matt Morris (2) Mechanics (4) Media (15) Media Bias (17) Media Trade Idea (3) Medical (1) Mediocy (10) Mediots (4) Melk-Gone (1) Melky Cabrera (14) memories (1) mental (1) Merkin Valdez (8) Message in a Bottle (1) Michael Main (1) Michael Trout (1) Miguel Cabrera (2) Miguel Tejada (5) Mike Fontenot (3) Mike Ivie (1) Mike Kickham (9) Mike Matheny (1) Mike Morse (8) milestone (1) minor league (1) minor league contract (1) minors (11) mismanagement (1) misnomer (1) mistakes (2) MLB (2) MLB stupidity (2) MLB Success (6) MLB Trade Rumors (1) MLBAM (1) MLBTR (1) MLE (1) Mock Draft analysis (4) MVP (1) Natanael Javier (1) Nate Schierholtz (45) Nathanael Javier (1) Nationals (1) Naysayers (1) Negotiations (1) Nick Noonan (26) Nick Pereira (1) Nick Vander Tuig (2) NL Champions (2) NL West (21) NL West Division Title (16) NL West Future (1) NLCS (22) NLCS MVP (2) NLDS (7) Noah Lowry (14) non-roster invitees (1) non-tenders (1) NPB (1) Oakland A's (4) OBP (1) oddities (1) Offense (3) offensive era (1) Omar Vizquel (3) one-run games (1) Opening Day (4) opening day pitcher (1) opening day roster (3) Optimism (1) Osiris Matos (2) Outfield (1) Ownership (7) Pablo Sandoval (88) Panda (6) Pandoval (1) passing (1) Pat Burrell (15) Pat Misch (5) Payroll (8) Pedro Feliz (12) PEDS (10) Perfect Game (2) perjury trial (1) Personal Reminiscence (2) Pessimism (1) Pete Rose (3) Peter Magowan (2) Phillies (7) Phoenix Theory of Rebuilding (1) Pitch Count (3) pitch value (1) Pitchers League (1) Pitching (14) Pitching Rotation (59) pitching staff (1) plate discipline (1) Play Ball (1) player budget (2) player development (2) playoff (2) playoff hopes (25) playoff roster (2) playoff rotation (3) Playoff Success (18) Playoffs (33) postmortem (1) PQS (72) press conference (1) pressure (2) priorities (1) Projected Record (4) projection (2) promotion (1) prospect (2) prospect analysis (1) Prospect of Note (3) prospect study (1) Prospects (42) questions (1) Rafael Rodriquez (8) Rajai Davis (2) Ralph Barbieri (1) Ramon Ramirez (3) Randy Johnson (9) Randy Messenger (2) Randy Winn (14) Rangers (5) Ranking (4) raspberry (1) Ray Durham (5) re-sign (2) Rebuilding (4) Rebuilding Myths series (1) rebuttal (1) Reds (5) Relocation Concession (2) Research (2) resource scarcity (1) Retired (3) Retirement (1) return (1) RHP (1) Rich Aurilia (7) Rick Peterson (1) Rickie Weeks (1) Ricky Oropesa (3) right-handed (1) risk mitigation (2) risk profile (1) Rod Beck (1) Roger Kieschnick (13) Roger Metzger (1) Ron Shandler (2) Rookie of the Year (1) Roster (4) ROY (2) Royals (1) Rule 5 Draft Pick (3) rumors (9) runs support (1) Russ Ortiz (11) Ryan Garko (2) Ryan Klesko (4) Ryan Rohlinger (2) Ryan Theriot (3) Ryan Vogelsong (74) Ryder Jones (2) Sabean Naysayers (4) Sabermetric Thoughts (5) sabermetrics (3) Salary speculation (3) SALLY (1) San Jose Giants (1) San Jose Relocation (3) Sandy Rosario (1) Santiago Casilla (8) Scott McClain (2) Scott Shuman (1) Scouting (1) Sergio Romo (13) SF Giants (2) Shilo McCall (1) Shooter (1) shutouts (1) Signature Song (1) signing (12) Silly-Ball (3) South Atlantic League (1) South Bay Rights (1) Spring Training (15) standings (1) starting lineup (14) starting pitching (54) statistics (2) STATS (1) Steroids (5) Steve Edlefsen (4) Steve Johnson (3) Steve Okert (1) Sue Burns (1) sunk costs (1) superstition (1) Team Speed (1) Team Support (1) Thank You (1) The Giants Way (1) The Hey Series (15) Thomas Joseph (3) Thomas Neal (9) Tigers (4) Tim Alderson (17) Tim Hudson (25) Tim Lincecum (167) Todd Linden (3) Todd Wellemeyer (6) Tommy Joseph (3) top prospect list (4) Trade (9) Trade Analysis (15) Trade Idea (7) Trade PTBNL (2) Trade Rumors (28) trading (1) training staff (2) Training Tool (1) Travis Blackley (1) Travis Ishikawa (44) turning point (1) Ty Blach (2) Tyler Beede (2) Tyler Horan (1) Tyler Rogers (1) Tyler Walker (2) umpire mistake (3) Umpires (3) USA Today (1) Voros McCracken (1) Waldis Joaquin (5) walks (1) WAR (1) Warrior Spirit (1) Wendell Fairley (10) What-If Scenario (3) wild card (1) wild card race (1) Will Clark (1) Willie Mac Award (1) Willie Mays (1) Winter League (1) World Series (23) World Series Champions (10) WS Ring Bling (1) Yusmeiro Petit (26) Zack Wheeler (9)