1. Freddy Sanchez, 2b
2. Adam LaRoche, 1b
3. Jason Bay, lf
4. Barry Bonds, rf
5. Xavier Nady, cf
6. Jose Bautista, 3b
7. Ronny Paulino, c
8. Brian Bixler, ss
Would you welcome Barry back to Pittsburgh in 2008?
Without a doubt he’ll be interested in playing another season as he attempts to reach 3,000 hits.
As he’s proven this year, he can still mash with the best of ’em.
PNC Park’s right field is small enough that he might be able to play adequate defense; the Clemente Wall would be an enticing target as he eyes 800 home runs.
(Defensively, an outfield featuring Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Bonds from left to right would be one of the worst the game has ever seen. That batting order might be the slowest in the majors.)
But the Pirate offense needs a boost in the worst way. What free agent in his right mind—and without a tremendous amount of baggage—would sign to play in Pittsburgh? What general manager would be patient enough to trade with Dave Littlefield?
Help isn’t coming from the minors. Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker shouldn’t debut until September of next season, and Brian Bixler will never be an impact talent. Only Steven Pearce looks to be ready by Opening Day.
Play Pearce as a superutility guy, starting him four or five days per week—resting Bonds and LaRoche as necessary. When he’s not in the lineup, Pearce is a power threat off the bench that this year’s edition of the Pittsburgh Baseball Club is sorely lacking.
The Pirates are a team that was built with the idea of contending by 2009 (after which Sanchez, LaRoche and Bay would reach free agency). If management is still looking to compete, why not take a flyer on a superstar whose contract situation would fit in with the rest of the core? When Bonds hangs them up, the reign of Pittsburgh’s next great outfielder begins.
And think of the bobblehead possibilities.