High praise for Adrian Gonzalez

With last night’s game going so long, I was on a pretty tight deadline and didn’t get a chance to address the A’s handling of Adrian Gonzalez all that much. Bob Geren talked about Gonzalez in his pregame media chat today. The A’s walked him four times — twice intentionally. One time came w/runners on the corners and one out in the sixth, with the game tied. That loaded the bases for Kevin Kouzmanoff, who singled in two runs. Geren said he had no regrets walking Gonzalez in that situation. The first baseman is tied for the major league lead with 23 homers and leads the majors with 57 walks. I didn’t have any problem with the call, either. One San Diego writer pointed out last night that Padres hitters, in general, have been pretty bad this season in the at-bat after Gonzalez draws a walk.

“On this team, it’s compared to the way Barry (Bonds) was treated in San Francisco,” Geren said, showing plenty of respect for Gonzalez. “There’s a lot of situations where you have to pitch to him. Other times you have to be careful.”

As for A’s news, Josh Outman said he was pleasantly surprised with how his left elbow felt this morning after he departed last night’s game in the second inning. He’s getting checked by a local orthopedist at the stadium tonight. Still no word on whether he’ll make his next start Wednesday against the Giants. …

With Edgar Gonzalez unavailable after last night’s extended outing, Geren said Santiago Casilla would be his long man tonight if needed. He’s hoping he won’t have to call on one. The A’s would love to get a lengthy outing from starter Brett Anderson, who hasn’t been sharp in each of his past two starts.

Tonight’s lineups, featuring the return of Ryan Sweeney in center field for Oakland. San Diego’s pitcher bats eighth once again:

Kennedy 2B
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
O. Cabrera SS
Sweeney CF
Hannahan 3B
Anderson P

Gwynn CF
Eckstein 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Headley 3B
Blanks LF
Alfonzo C
Venable RF
Silva P
E. Cabrera SS


More Bay’s-Ball Answers

Slightly more than 48 hours to domestic Opening Day, and a weekend until the Giants get going for real. A chance to answer some more questions abou the locals.

1) Does acquiring Coco Crisp make any sense for the A’s?

Sure it does. But not immediately. Take some time and see if Chris Denorfia can play. The A’s got him when he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, after all, and if you like a guy that much, give him time to show what he can do. If it doesn’t work out, then Crisp would be a decent short-term solution (but I wouldn’t give up a ton for him) until Carlos Gonzalez proves he’s ready.

2) What’s going to happen with Dan Johnson? Is it possible he winds up with the Giants?

First of all, he’ll end up with some rare physical malady. Sorry, twisted humor there. Bottom line is that Johnson will be the forgotten man for the A’s if Jack Cust, Mike Sweeney and Daric Barton stay healthy and productive. General manager Billy Beane is very good about moving guys to situations that are more suitable for them, so I’d be extremely surprised if the A’s kept Johnson around to rot. He’d be a decent solution for the Giants if Dan Ortmeier flames out at first base, but at this point, what do the Giants have that the A’s need?

3) Are the Giants going too far in removing everything Bonds-related from their park?

Absolutely. I mean, first they sell their soul for the guy and cripple the franchise in the chase for the almighty home run record. Now, they want to pretend he didn’t even exist? I’m all for the Giants moving on (two years too late), but don’t pretend Bonds was never here. It’s hypocritical, and the fans will see right through it.


Arizona rumblings

Back from a couple of weeks in the desert (actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I was back Thursday), and brought with me some early impressions.

Carlos Gonzalez is the real deal. The centerpiece of the Dan Haren deal appears to be the A’s best everyday prospect, and the gap between him and the others appears to be large. Gonzalez did something impressive every day I was around the A’s camp, and I had a handful of veterans tell me, “Watch out for Carlos Gonzalez. He’s going to be a star.” Maybe it doesn’t happen this year, but it’ll happen eventually.

Gio Gonzalez might remind folks of Vida Blue. He’s left-handed, has a high leg-kick, and the ball seems to release from his hand with explosion. Not sure he throws as hard as Vida did, but from what I saw, his stuff moves. Again, this is a guy to watch.

The Giants are going to be miserable. On the couple of occasions I saw them, they had trouble making routine plays. On many of the days I didn’t see them, stories of ineptitude found their way to the press box. I know, I know, it’s spring training and you can’t draw solid conclusions. But if the Giants avoid 95 losses, I’ll be stunned.

— One other anectdode that could be indicative of the Giants’ chances. A local network sports anchor told me his station had interviewed a bulk of what’s expected to be the Opening Day roster, and each interview ended with this question: “Give us a reason why the Giants won’t finish in last place?” The almost-unanimous answer, the anchor said: “We’re scrappy.” If that’s all you’re clinging to, then the mountain ahead is awfully steep.

Barry Bonds is out of sight, but he’s not out of mind. Heard his name dropped by scouts and executives in conversations just about every day I was down there. The consensus: Somebody will sign him by the end of July.


The dirt on Bonds

Well, this is interesting. Barry Bonds apparently failed not one but multiple tests for performance-enhancing drugs. It’s right there in the grand jury testimony ordered unsealed on Friday.

 Lest you want to stay in denial, grand jury testimony is a legal document, so please, no more “He’s never failed a drug test,” arguments, OK. The guy was dirty. Which obviously doesn’t make him unique, but it does forever taint his career.

The question is whether the news will remove the denial from many of his supporters. What do you think?


Bonds’ future

Interesting news coming out of Tampa, where it appears the Rays are considering signing Barry Bonds. Gotta say, I didn’t see this one coming, and it’s worth wondering how serious Bonds would be about lacing up his shoes for this group.

The one thing we would know for sure if this deal comes to fruition is that Bonds cares far more about collecting his 3,000th hit than he is in pursuing his first World Series ring. The Rays are no longer the dregs of the American League East, but short of a miracle, they aren’t about to win this division, either.

Buster Olney, an ESPN baseball analyst who is as respected as anyone in baseball, thinks a Bonds addition would be a good move, and lists four reasons why he feels that way. Here would be my two main arguments against Olney’s reasoning.

1. Bonds won’t play for chump change — the figure I keep hearing is that he won’t settle for anything less than $10 million — and the Rays aren’t rich. Moreover, I don’t think he’d be as much of a gate attraction as people think, especially in Tampa. Much of the clinentele for the Rays is the retired crowd, and it seems the older generation is more inclinced to take a stand against Bonds’ indictment for perjury by not buying tickets.

2. Yes, Tampa Bay’s young and developing hitters could learn patience from Bonds, but they would also learn how to thumb their noses at any authority. Simply put, Bonds is a clubhouse cancer (hate to use that word, but it fits) on teams that aren’t in contention, so it’s not hard to see him having a negative impact on Tampa’s young players.

The fact that the Rays are even a consideration indicates that Bonds is getting itchy, and that is surprising. Believe me, come July some team will decide it needs just one more bat to get to the promised land, and then the offers will come. I would argue that Bonds will have a better opportunity to land in a playoff-type situation if he continues to wait. Obviously, we’re about to find out whether he’s as patient off the field as he is on it.


The Congressional Hearings

Lots to discuss from today’s Congressional hearings starring Bud Selig, Donald Fehr and George Mitchell. Now that the home Internet service is back up, let’s get to them.

— So, the Giants should’ve responded to former trainer Stan Conte’s concerns that Greg Anderson was bringing steroids into the clubhouse? Gee, never would’ve guessed. Look, the actual news that Congress was mighty unpleased with how general manager Brian Sabean and owner Peter Magowan reacted shouldn’t really be news at all. The newsy thing is that grown men, with supposedly solid upbringings, could just thumb their nose at ethics. Then again, that really isn’t news, because a) professional sports has been about gaining an edge, and b) the more money your corporation attains, the easier it is to assume that accountability will never come back to you. There’s been many a Congressman (and Presidents) who operated under the same assumption.

— Or, to put it another way: What were the Giants going to do? Bonds was their meal ticket. Say your workplace had an employee so good at what he/she did that no matter his/her personal conduct, the company was rolling in green? Hard to believe the company CEO and the other employees wouldn’t look the other way.

— Miguel Tejda, step right up, you’re the next competitor in the “Amazing Disgraced.” Congress is going to investigate Tejada for perjury, which means it’s probably only a matter of time until he’s forced to confess or stage questionable interviews on “60 Minutes.”

— Speaking of Tejada, it’s now official. A’s fans should’ve stopped watching after the great 1970’s run. Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, charter members of the “Amazing Disgraced,” have permanently stained the great teams of the late 1980s (thank goodness those teams were defined much, much more by the classy Dave Stewart than by the Bash Brothers), and now some of the greatest moments of the 20-game winning streak are questionable, too.

— Here’s the amazing thing about Bud Selig and Donald Fehr. The more they spill the rhetoric about wishing they’d known something sooner, and agonizing that they didn’t do more and pledging to be more vigilant in the future, the more you get the feeling that if presented with the exact same set of circumstances again, both would respond the exact same way.


Barry bad idea?

Heard an interesting theory over the weekend regarding the “Barry Bonds to the A’s,” story that caused so much ruckus on Friday. A fellow member of the industry forwarded the thought that the story sounded like a planted leak from some higher-up in the A’s organization as a way to gauge public reaction to the possibility of Barry Bonds joining the team.

I could see that, although I doubt it happened. Signing Bonds has so many ramifications, not the least of which is how many tickets it may sell or how many season-ticket holders it may turn off. The one flaw, of course, is that A’s general manager Billy Beane has always cared less about public reaction or the aspect of ticket sales.

Anyway, if the A’s are concerned about fan reaction, they should take note that a poll on our Web site all weekend indicates most folks are not for it. It’s 11 a.m. on Monday, and as of now, the leading vote getter (at 42 percent) is the one that says, the A’s should not sign Bonds, and if they do, “you can forget about seeing me at McAfee Coliseum.” It is worth noting that 25 percent of the voters think the A’s should sign Bonds. There were 371 votes tabulated.

One other interesting aspect to the story: Ray Ratto’s column this morning in which he essentially writes that Bonds is not the story yet, and that, “he is less likely to be an Athletic than more.” Some scathing comments follow that story, as well.  

Draw your own conclusions.


Bonds to the A’s?

The full story on this should be posted on our site later tonight, but don’t start buying season tickets based on the idea that Barry Bonds will be with the A’s just yet.

I’ve spent the afternoon making several calls, and I’ve found out enough from people I trust that a) yes, the A’s do have interest in Bonds, but that b) they’re not in a blanket sprint to sign him. Several factors would have to be worked out first (i.e., the money, the potential roster shake-ups that might have to occur to accomodate his salary), not the least of which is deciding whether they’re going to keep Dan Haren or Joe Blanton. From what I’m hearing, they remain very intent on hearing offers for both, and if the right one comes, they’ll jump.

The point is, the likelihood of Bonds sizing up an A’s jersey is far from a slam dunk. Heck, it might not even be a lay-up. It does make for good speculation, however, and thanks to the Internet and the participation of folks like you, that’s all the counts in today’s journalism.

Gotta say, though. I imagine Red Smith, Shirley Povich and all the greats would be rolling their eyes in disgust. 


And the Emmy goes to …

So HBO is going to turn Barry Bonds’ link to BALCO into a movie? Fantastic. We live in a lazy society, so all the folks who haven’t bothered to read “Game of Shadows,” can now take the shortcut and watch the movie version. Then they can pawn off all of Bonds’ troubles on the “creative license” that comes with any such movie.

In the meantime, here would be my picks for the starting roles.

DENZEL WASHINGTON AS BONDS: Bonds ran the clubhouse in San Francisco as if he were a mob boss, and Denzel has already shown his proficiency for such a role with his performance in “American Gangster.” (Also worth considering: Jamie Foxx and Cuba Gooding Jr.)

REGINA FOX AS MARION JONES: She bears a little bit of a resemblance to the disgraced track star, and she’s ready for a leading role. Remember, Game of Shadows was as much about her as it was Bonds. (Also worth considering: Beyonce Knowles, Kerry Washington).

BILLY BOB THORNTON AS VICTOR CONTE: Many of Thornton’s characters seem to have a hint of sleaziness to them, and yet, compelling at the same time. Makes him the perfect man to play this guy. (Also under consideration: Tommy Lee Jones, Rutger Hauer)

KEVIN BACON AND GENE HACKMAN AS THE REPORTERS: Gotta have Bacon in a movie like this, and I’ve always been partial to Hackman. But I’m open to suggestions.