I am open to Barry Bonds as the Marlins hitting coach. It could be a fantastic situation and he could have success. Teaching and doing are two different things but I don’t feel like betting against a guy who is the best person on the planet at something transitioning into teaching that something is a great bet.
All of that said, part of me is skeptical. Not that Bonds can’t be a good hitting coach but that he might not be totally invested in being a hitting coach. I say that based on the initial comments Bonds had following his hiring. It seemed like something he hadn’t considered too terribly much until Jeff Loria called him and, hey, sure, I suppose I’ll give coaching a try!
The other day he sat down for an interview with MLB.com’s Barry Bloom and not much that he said changed my impression of that. He seemed flattered by Jeff Loria reaching out to him and, in fact, him coaching was clearly Jeff Loria’s idea (note: how many Jeff Loria baseball ideas have panned out?). He is worried about the travel and the hotels and stuff. He is quite clear that he doesn’t want to be away from San Francisco but, hey, this is where the job is, so he’s taking it. His overall stance seems to be “Who knows? Maybe I CAN do this?”
Which, to be clear, is generally a very healthy way to approach new opportunities. Trying new things and having an open mind about them — and an open mind to the possibility that you may not do well or may not like it — is a good way to live a good life. To be pleased by even modest success and to not be too disappointed by failure. It allows you to move out of your comfort zone more easily than you might if you’re the sort who HAS to be perfect at everything. And, whatever you think of Barry Bonds, his post-retirement life seems to fit that healthy mode overall.
But this is baseball and baseball tends not to reward dilettantes. Guys who are stinkin’ rich from their playing careers yet continue on and succeed as coaches all seem like the very, very driven types. Like they have a passion for coaching in particular or baseball and the baseball life overall. That quality was certainly present in Bonds as a player but it doesn’t seem to be here for Bonds as a new coach. If Loria didn’t call him he wouldn’t have been beating down anyone else’s door trying to get into coaching. In a lot of ways this sounds like a whim.
Which isn’t to say that Bonds won’t be great at this and won’t love it. He absolutely could. If he is and does, however, it sounds like it will be just as much as a surprise to him as it will be to everyone else.