My view: no matter what happens with the perjury trial — and the jury is still deliberating, by the way — Barry Bonds should still be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Sure, we can disagree about Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmiero’s worthiness or unworthiness, but Bonds is so far over the line that no one who even pretends to understand how physics and chemistry work can say that he’s some sort of bogus steroid creation. To quote Bill James’ comment about Rickey Henderson: if you cut him in half, you’d have two Hall of Famers. In Bonds case way may even be able to go thirds.
But there’s the morals clause, of course. I hate the morals clause and don’t believe that it was actually designed to exclude immoral actors from the Hall — rather, it was inserted to give a boost to good guys who may have fallen just short on the merits — but it’s there. And it will be the basis for the Hall of Fame electorate to exclude Bonds, much to their own embarrassment once these hysterical days have passed and some perspective on the matter is gained.
One guy who has thought a great deal about steroids in baseball and other sports is Steve Kettmann. The former A’s beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle was the ghost writer for Jose Canseco’s “Juiced” and was sounding the steroids alarm a couple of years before anyone was. Over at the Huffington Post today, he makes a prediction about Bonds and the Hall of Fame that sounds about right:
There will always be cheating in the game, as there always has been, and there will always be fall guys for that cheating, who are punished when rich men behind the scenes dance away from blame. Bonds used steroids, but he’s really on trial for being stupid — and he may be found guilty of a charge or two. I still say that when the wash comes out, when we look back on all this years later, it will all look much different than it does now — and that one way or another, maybe after he’s dead and gone, or at least enfeebled and incapable of taking any pleasure in the news, Barry Bonds will be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
How much nicer if we could just cut out the silly interim period, cast out the morality of it all and do right by history?
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.