Sunday, August 10, 2008

Zen Dayley: Cuban would be in the Bonds market

The longer Barry Bonds remains in left-handed slugger's limbo (it's not bad, but it's not great), the more it increases a fan's desire to Mark Cuban win the Chicago Cubs sweepstakes.

Cuban is anteing up $1.3 billion for the Cubbies. As you probably know, he will face a major challenge trying to get the required three-quarters approval from 23 of 29 MLB owners.

The Cubs also have Alfonso Soriano in left field, but this is not really about Bonds playing for Chicago. It's not even about the 44-year-old home-run king getting a chance to succeed or fail on his own merits, even though every other Hall of Fame player, was given that courtesy, and not just the nice guys. (Bonds says he's in fighting trim.)

The point is that Bonds, or any other player with a nasty reputation, are anathema to members-in-good-standing clubs such as the Houston Astros and your Toronto Blue Jays. They don't want the drama, the whiff of controversy -- or the end to their lack of left-handed power at the DH/corner outfield spots. Granted, you know what you're getting with Brad Wilkerson. In the Jays' case, that's a .221 average and 13 homers from the DH spot.

For Bonds -- and maybe Milton Bradley, almost need by an Al Davis type. Cuban comes closer to that than anyone else who currently owns a major professional team.

Perhaps Cuban would play by the house rules if he landed the Cubbies. He's mellowed out over time with the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA; he says only been fined once by the league in the past five years. He and Sam Zell, who wants to unload the Cubs, could sue to get him into the owners' ranks. Eamonn Brennan wrote last week, "Major League Baseball likes its old-boy owners, its old money, its quiet yes-men, and it doesn't like to have its quaint club disrupted by those of ill-repute. Mark Cuban's antics do not endear him to Major League Baseball. After all, when was the last time you saw an MLB owner take pregame press questions on his treadmill?"

That's a big matzo ball hanging out there. But would Cuban sign a Bonds type, or maybe in a few seasons, an aging but still productive Manny Ramirez? It stands to reason that he would be more likely to do so than some teams. There are a few which, to quote Houston columnist Richard Justice, "have a reputation for wanting guys that look and sound alike." (Justice also sticks the dagger by pointing out that if personality is an issue, well, the Astros have employed Jeff Kent and Roger Clemens.)

Point being, he wouldn't freeze out a controversial player, because in his words, to "make good money is a win for everyone." The NFL realizes this -- it's show business. Cuban would be too late to the game for Bonds, but not too late to shake up baseball. A byproduct might be that it would help a few players who have been smeared with the bad-apple brush.


  • Speaking of which, FanGraphs has a look at what kind of offers the Rangers' league-leading slugger Milton Bradley is going to elicit in the off-season. As is always the case with Bradley, it's fraught with something. He can hit, no question, but no one's likely to guarantee him more than two seasons.

    The U.S. economic slowdown probably won't play a part in what kind of offers Bradley does or doesn't receive. Baseball's coffers are still flush; any change in the player market won't come until after the 2009 season.
  • Ken Griffey Jr.'s return to centrefield is working about as well as expected. It's time for the White Sox to break out the nerve tonic.
  • Phillippe Aumont had a decent outing in his first game with the Mariners' Class-A team since coming off the disabled list. He went three innings, giving up one run on three hits with two walks, one strikeout and a wild pitch. One positive sign: Five of the nine outs he got came on ground balls.
  • In other 2007 first-round draft pick news ... the Rays promoted phenom left-hander David Price to Triple-A. The over/under on how long it is before he's called up to the majors is three starts.
  • One takeaway from Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown's column on Skimgate is that MLB would have to re-open the collective agreement in order to have a universal entry draft (which even the stodgy NHL has. King Kaufman also noted that this means that Gary Sheffield had a point when he attributed the diminishing number of black players in baseball to the belief that Latinos "are easier to control."
Damn, the Jays
  • No disrespect, but if Paul Beeston and Pat Gillick are coming back to the Jays, how come it's on the website of an out-of-town newspaper?
  • It would only be fair if the Jays rack Cy Young candidate Cliff Lee pretty well on Sunday after abandoning Roy Halladay on Saturday.
  • Great stat from John Brattain: The Jays have scored four runs or less in a game times since Opening Day 2007. That's almost an entire season's worth of never having a big night with the bats.
  • Mike Wilner is calling out Alex Rios for being lackadaisacal yesterday: "one hopes that with the new regime in place, they’ll be able to get a stern message across to Rios about his at-the-very-least occasional lack of effort, but for now their hands are tied. It’s not like they could put Joe Inglett or Brad Wilkerson out in centrefield tomorrow with Cliff Lee on the mound, nor should they."
  • Please read The Tao of Stieb's takedown of those who would make a big show out of pronouncing the Jays dead and buried (they are, but that's not the point).

    There are going to be times during the season when, for sanity's sake, it's best to give the Jays a pass for a week or so.

    There's an odd phenomena, though, when you cheer for an also-ran team -- you find yourself drifting back in during August and September. It stems from the feeling that the season is almost done and it won't be that long until you're staring at five long months of fall and winter before spring training opens down in Dunedin. The beauty of baseball, of course, is that your team can still be interesting to follow when they're not in the hunt. The same can't be said of NFL, NHL and NBA.
Les Rapidz
  • On his vacation, good friend Carl Kiiffner caught up with former Lynx owner Ray Pecor and GM Kyle Bostwick, who are no worse for wear with the Vermont Lake Monsters of the NY-Penn League. (Carl's headline is very self-explanatory, let's just leave it at that.)
  • No one needed any reminder of what Ottawa baseball fans lost with Ed Nottle's ouster. Channeling Stephen Colbert: Thanks a lot, Nashua Telegraph.
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