Monday, March 28, 2005
It's the End of the World as We Know It...
So here we are, staring at this apocalyptic situation of a Giant team without Barry Bonds, wondering what to do. There's no backup plan, no savior from the farm system, and no Ford Prefect to scoop us up as aliens bull doze Earth to make way for an interstellar freeway. This team is Bonds or bust. The hope is that Bonds was simply speaking out of frustration, an old man bitching and letting out months of pent up anger. My bet is that the original prognosis of six weeks is the reality, and Bonds' rant about being done for the year is some kind of reverse psychology on his part to get the media off his back. If he tells the media that they've won, that they've finally brought him down after all these years of chipping away, maybe then they'll finally just go away and leave him alone. That's the best rationale I can think of; I just don't even want to think of the Giants without Bonds for a whole season or, God forbid, forever.
Can the Giants survive without Bonds? Peter Gammons seems to think that the team will be fine without him, but I respectfully suggest that Mr. Gammons lay off the drinky-poo. To illustrate how much the Giants will miss Bonds' output, let's compare Bonds' projected Value Over Replacement Player (VORP, from Baseball Prospectus) to the rest of the Giants' outfield. BP's PECOTA projects Bonds to have a VORP of 85.1, which would be a fairly substantial dropoff from his usual effort. The projected 2005 VORP for Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom, and Pedro Feliz (who will start for Bonds in left field) combined is 47.8. That's ugly. Obviously, player projections are an inexact science, but this still doesn't bode well. When you're losing a guy who reaches base 61% of the time and replacing him with guys who get to first base about as often as Bruce Vilanch, you're in for some problems.
I'm hoping, praying, that Bonds will indeed just be out until mid-May or, at the worst, until the All-Star Break. If the Giants can tread water until he comes back they could probably still be in position to take the NL West with a strong second half. The team started out last year at 15-23, yet still rebounded to win 91 games. Even without Bonds, this group is talented enough, and the schedule is easy enough, to avoid a start as brutal as that.
It's not going to be fun, it's not going to be easy, but we can get through it. Of course, if Bonds does indeed go out for the year, then it's time to start leaping off tall buildings. But everytime you hear anything about that, I think it's just better to stick your fingers in your ears, close your eyes, and think of better things.