Barry Bonds had his number 25 retired by the San Francisco Giants on Saturday. It was quite a ceremony. Among the highlights:
- Hall of Famer Willie Mays — who, as you probably know, is Bonds’ godfather — used his speech to stump for Bonds being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mays said, “Give somebody honor that deserves to be in the Hall of Fame . . . I want him to have that honor. On behalf of all of the people in San Francisco and the country, vote this guy in.” Based on the comments that usually come up regarding Bonds on this website, I presume your mileage varies on that.
- It was a pretty star-studded affair beyond just Bonds and Mays. Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry were there too. His former managers Jim Leyland and Dusty Baker were there too. I assume Jim was a bit more cordial to Bonds on Saturday than he was on certain occasions in the past (NSFW language!). So was former Giants outfielder Fred Lewis. For real. The Giants didn’t even invite him. He paid his own way to fly there from Mississippi because he wanted to thank Bonds for taking him under his wing when he was a young player.
- The crowd stood and roared and it got all emotional on several occasions. You’re gonna act like that’s dumb because you hate Barry Bonds, but people in San Francisco don’t. And you don’t hate the PED-associated dudes who played for your team. Don’t pretend otherwise, even if you want to make a case that it’s totally different.
Finally, Bonds took his old place in left field one last time. I wish that Sid Bream was on hand to round third one last time so Bonds could once again float a wounded duck to home, at which point the ghost of Skip Caray would go crazy, but we can’t always get what we want.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.