July 11, 2008

It's not so much Barry as it is the baggage

Just because Tony La Russa isn't commenting about the possibility of Barry Bonds wearing a Cardinals uniform doesn't mean GM John Mozeliak isn't mulling it over.

While La Russa might be analyzing how Bonds' bat might bolster the middle of the Redbirds' lineup, however, Mozeliak may be (or not be) getting pressure form other parts of the Cardinals' organization. Cardinal Nation can only speculate as to what is or isn't in the works.

From a Front Office perspective, there's probably not as much worry over what Bonds' might contribute on the field or (more importantly) in the batters' box. Deep within the Cardinal "think tank" it's doubtful they're worrying about La Russa's definition of "impact," either. The administrators of Cardinals business most likely have their own idea of what "impact" means, and it probably has to do more with dollar bills and box seats then bases and bats. Mozeliak must be stuck in the middle somewhere, which should give a fan an idea of how challenging it is to be a general manager.

Bonds could mean big business for Cardinals' ownership if they can figure out a way to make merchandising work. The seats are pretty much full already, but if there are any empties, his presence would "top off" Busch Stadium, based on notoriety alone, be it good or bad. And there's the rub. There's always the chance that the negative aspects of Bonds' recent scandal would be less than profitable, so to speak.

A monetary loss? No way. Cardinal Nation is too faithful to not show up. But that's because of all the Redbirds that have earned their respect. The fans would surely continue to purchase jerseys with "Ankiel" or "Pujols" or "Ludwick" on the back, just not B-o-n-d-s. And then again...

The financial forecast on that one is just too hard for a blogger to figure out.

But as far as the baseball side...

Bonds has stated he can be ready in ten days. C'mon. Most of us who are near Bonds' age and weight can tell you it takes ten days to get off the darned couch.

For poops and grins, though, let's ass-u-me Bonds is ready to be a rockin' Redbird. (Here's where we need the stat-geeks.) Without researching the baseball blogs with more numbers than letters, the garden-variety hardball fan knows Bonds is (or was) a good batsman, but over the last few years, he has done no better than most Cardinals' hitters who usually hang out in the middle of La Russa's revolving lineup.

So when La Russa uses the word impact, you merely need to ask the question, "Impact what?" to know he's projecting the potential benefit to the team's win column. Yet, when considering Bonds' reduction in production (at least, down to the level of a solid major league hitter) over the last few seasons, you have to, even as a manager, consider the impact Bonds might have on a team that has worked as hard as most, if not all, of La Russa's teams over his long career. Would his presence in the dugout enhance an already established work ethic and bring an increased feeling of hope, or create animosity amongst a roster of men that have hoed that NL Central Row from the beginning, many of them sub-million-dollar players that are the reason the Cardinals have gotten this far?

Now we see that even though the Road to Impact forks somewhere around the batters' box and the box seats, the splits merge when you get close to Bondsville, and then everyone that had jumped on the wagon begins to see how heavy it's becoming, and thinks about the fellow that resides there, and collectively realize it's not so much Barry as it is the baggage.

photo by Barbara Moore