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The Name That Just Won't Go Away

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I've already written my thoughts on whether or not the Tigers should sign Barry Bonds to be their designated hitter, but since some baseball observers continue to try and connect those dots, maybe it's worth repeating that opinion. The latest is Gary Thorne, who wrote a column for USA Today suggesting that Bonds could make an excellent replacement for Gary Sheffield, who up until last night was beginning to take on the distinct aroma of toast.

In fairness to Thorne, he's not saying the Tigers should or need to sign Bonds. He's saying it wouldn't be a bad idea if Sheffield is done. And I acknowledge that it appears to be a fit, considering the previous working relationship between Bonds and Jim Leyland, the Tigers' ability to compete for a playoff spot, and a possible hole in the lineup.

Leyland's mention of Bonds in the same sentence as Sheffield is interesting. Leyland tutored Bonds in his early days in Pittsburgh when Leyland managed there.

Leyland has great respect for Bonds and his abilities. Would Leyland be amenable to having Bonds with the Tigers if Sheffield finds the bat does not return?

That is not out of the question. Leyland is a strong personality and there is no such thing as a player who will ever run him over.

So mentioning that Thorne once had his chain yanked by Doug Mirabelli about whether or not that was really blood on Curt Schilling's sock in 2004 would be an unnecessary cheap shot. (Even though Buzz Bissinger seems to think that's exactly what we bloggers do, all the time. I say "seems to," because I haven't viewed the panel discussion from HBO's Costas Now yet. And by the time, I watch it, won't it really be "Costas Then"? But I digress.)

In case you didn't read what I wrote for Big League Stew a few weeks ago, here's a seven-word nutshell: The Detroit Tigers don't need Barry Bonds.

An excerpt for elaboration:

[...] Bonds is too similar to what Detroit already has. One of the flaws highlighted during this losing streak is the lack of speed among Tigers hitters. Without Curtis Granderson, there is no one who can take that extra base, make opposing outfielders rush a throw, or end up on third after hitting a ball into the gap. This lineup moves deliberately from base to base, pushed along by hits. And if those hits don't come — which they haven't been — runners aren't going anywhere. Bonds wouldn't change that one bit.

He also wouldn't help the Tigers' defense, which is already suffering notably. The left field territory in Comerica Park isn't kind on immobile outfielders who can't run to the gap. (Actually, it requires another center fielder out there.) Between his creaky knees and vaunted bulk, Bonds just doesn't have the necessary range to cover all that space. If you want to move him to another position, Detroit already has plenty of guys that are better suited for first base or designated hitter.

All of this talk is also overlooking the fact that the Tigers were already set up to cover a prolonged Sheffield absence, if that occurred. Carlos Guillen could move over to designated hitter, where it's increasingly looking like his legs will eventually put him anyway. Or Miguel Cabrera could fill that spot, while Guillen sidles back to first base and Brandon Inge returns to third, giving the Tigers the defense they've lacked at the hot corner in his absence. (The Detroit News' Lynn Henning thinks this is a move the Tigers should make, regardless of Sheffield's injury status. And if Sheff ends up healthy, stick him in left field.)

So can we just stop it with the Barry Bonds talk? Nobody else seems that interested in signing him, either.