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The Bonds Watch

Exactly an hour before first pitch here at AT&T Park tonight, and as Barry Bonds readies to face the Washington Nationals and rookie left-hander John Lannan, the debate on the field regards only one topic.

When will No. 756 happen?

My guess, and I was dead wrong on my two other predictions _ a) it wouldn’t in 2007 and b) July 29 _ is that it’s coming Wednesday night. Lannan is a wild man, as evidenced by his getting ejected in his debut for hitting two batters back-to-back, so maybe he’ll make a mistake and leave a pitch out over the plate for Bonds to crush. More likely, he’ll be nowhere near the zone, and if and when he does make a mistake, Bonds will miss it.

Willie Mays is here tonight, but president Larry Baer said Mays will likely watch the game in the clubhouse. Managing general partner Peter Magowan also is expected to be here, and Baer said Magowan has talked with Bonds since No. 25 tied the mark Saturday. Thought it was interesting that nobody called out Magowan publicly for not being in attendance for that moment. Criticize commissioner Bud Selig and his reaction all you want, but Magowan is the guy who has ridden Bonds’ coat tails for 15 years.

Anyway, first pitch is in an hour. Stay tuned.

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Milton pops off

If you want to do yourself a favor, take some time and delve into the mind of Milton Bradley today. I read everything Bradley had to say to Oakland Tribune columnist Carl Steward, and the first word that popped into my head? Clown.

But just to give Milton a little benefit of the doubt, I asked a few of his former teammates if they had seen what he had said. The conversations were casual and not on the record, so I can’t tell you specifically what they said. I can sum up the general feeling in one word, however: Clown.

Look, Bradley is a complex guy. Always has been, always will be. But that doesn’t mean we have to believe everything he says. All I can say is that from what I can tell — and I’m certainly not around this team as often as I once was — and from what I’ve been told by people in the organization I trust, the atmosphere in the clubhouse is not all that different. Members of the organization always have been wary of Beane’s influence, but there’s still room for independent thinking. And if you don’t believe so, then why would Beane have ever brought Bradley on board in the first place.

Bottom line, there’s a reason Bradley has worn out his welcome at every place he’s ever been, and why he’ll likely be ripping Padres CEO Sandy Alderson to shreds at an undetermined future date.

By the way, Bradley hurt himself again last night (Thought bubble inside Beane’s head: Good riddance).

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The Trade Deadline

Heard a lot of people express shock at the moves (or lack thereof) regarding the locals before Tuesday afternoon’s trade deadline. And indeed, Matt Morris moving from one last place team to another, certainly qualifies as a stunner. Not just that it was a sad sack team such as Pittsburgh that wanted him but because the Pirates agreed to pick up his salary in 2008. Great news for the Giants, regardless of how Rajai Davis develops.

The rest of it, though, went about as expected. It’s a little surprising that the A’s didn’t move Dan Johnson and create a spot for Daric Barton. But keep in mind that with each day Barton spends in the minors, the more the A’s push back the start of his service time. Don’t think for a minute that’s not something A’s general manager Billy Beane occasionally considers. As for catcher Mike Piazza, outfielder Shannon Stewart and lefty reliever Joe Kennedy, the three other prime candidates who weren’t could net some compensation draft picks next season, and the A’s need to replenish their farm system.

Keep this in mind also. Scouts expect more moves than normal to come between now and Aug. 31, because teams will be afraid to take on salary by making claims on players going through waivers. Players who pass through waivers without being claimed can be traded. So just because Piazza, Stewart and Kennedy are with the A’s now, there’s no guarantee they will be a month from now.

The waiver-deadline dynamic could benefit the Giants, too. If you’re a team, are you really going to stake a waiver claim on Ray Durham, Randy Winn, Dave Roberts and several other overpaid vets? Probably not.

Meantime, we’re all left to wonder what the Pirates were thinking, regarding their acquisition of Morris. Maybe general manager Dave Littlefield thinks a big-budget team such as the Yankees will get so desperate come Aug. 31 that a bounty will be offered for Morris. More than likely, it’s simply desperation on Littlefield’s part, a last-ditch attempt to save his job after years of ineptitude in his attempt to turn around the Pirates.