As I'm sure many of you know, rumors were swirling last week that the Tampa Bay Rays were showing interest in signing Barry Lamar Bonds. Now, my initial reaction was: that's just stupid!
Upon further review, though, it's not as stupid as you might think.
Financially, it makes a lot of sense for the team, provided Bonds isn't looking to make the $16 million that he made last year, an amount that he is no longer worth. Bonds is a draw. There's no way around that. People will come to see Bonds play. He holds the record for most HR's in a career. And there's no denying that Rays' attendance hasn't been very good. According to http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/rays3.shtml, in 2007 the Rays had 1,389,031 in attendance for the season. That is almost HALF the average of other A.L. teams according to that same source. Now, a lot of that has to do with poor performance of the team overall. Average attendance is almost half of what it was when the team debuted. The Rays have a young team with a lot of upside, but they need somebody to DRAW people to the stadium. Bonds could be that guy.
Now, as to the competitive aspects. Bonds would likely slot into a DH spot for an A.L. team, allowing him to focus on what he's best at now that his head has swollen 3 times it's original size: hitting. And make no mistake, he's still very good at that, and he's better then Jonny Gomes, the guy who has filled the role for the Rays. Gomes hit .244 with 17 HR's and 49 RBI in 107 games. Bonds last season hit .276 with 26 HR's and 66 RBI's in 126 games. More importantly, Bonds had a .480 OBP (BETTER then his career average) and .565 Slugging %. Comparatively, Gomes had .322 OBP and .460 Slugging %.
So, when you break it down, it makes a lot of sense both financially and competitively for the Rays. However, in the end, I'd still likely say it would be "foul" for the Rays to sign him. The so-called extracurriculars surrounding Bonds could likely end up poisoning what is a young and therefore easily influenced team. The steroid cloud, the perjury investigation, and the huge ego that comes along with Bonds would likely hinder the teams development as well as chemistry, and Bonds could negate any advantage brought by Bonds.