God forgive me for what I'm about to do, but I do think there is a good chance that the A's sign Barry Bonds now. Heaven and earth might shake because I think I may have just agreed with Ray Ratto.
I know two things about Billy Beane above all else and the fact remains that Beane is a businessman and he is as competitive as hell, as a good businessman usually is. Since he views himself as a businessman more than anything else, he realizes that what the A's have done the past several seasons is to lose the casual audience. The casual baseball audience (I would imagine that the large majority of the people that read AN do not fall into this category) comes to baseball games for the ambiance, the hot dogs and to watch a star player perform. In other words, they're largely Giants fans. That's what they were paying for in their experience over at SBC Park the last several seasons.
In trading two extremely popular players that A's fans were just coming to love, the A's have largely alienated a good portion of the "hardcore" A's fan as well (that meaning many of the people here). A bunch of people realize intellectually why it was a good thing, myself included, but I also loved Danny Haren in a way that would make Tinky Winky's purple skin crawl. It's hard to remain above the fray and view things from an objective standpoint when you do get emotionally invested in seeing Haren drop a nasty splitter on a guy for another strikeout.
I think that ultimately what's happening is that the A's are going to realize how much their gate receipts will hurt this year. The hardcore might still come out on occasion to see some of these young guys and their progression towards greatness, but you probably have little to no chance of attracting casuals with the current crop of players in the current stadium. So why not sign Bonds? Not because you're "going for it" in 2008, but because it makes a lot of business sense. People love drama and intrigue and he will provide plenty of it. And I think someone else brought this up in Rubin Sierra's diary, but Bonds could also be flipped to a team needing a big bat at the deadline for more of those prized prospects.
You can say, yeah, "Does the headache and circus that follows Bonds warrant that decision?" and it would be a legitimate question. And it's probably only one that Billy Beane and Lewis Wolff can answer. Do they really want to make A's PR director Jim Young's job a nightmare this year? It depends on whether or not they're willing to play baseball games in front of 6,000 people this year and my personal bet is that they don't, not when you buy these teams to make money, not as a charity service.
Of course there are a couple of huge caveats in all of this. How does Bonds legal case affect his availability and how much of a bargain does he present to the A's? Because it doesn't make any sense to buy high on Bonds and then just break even or lose money.
NOTE TO READERS (AND BLEZ): Due to the recent storms, I have been without internet or phone since Sunday - both should be fixed later today and I should be able to post something this evening. Meanwhile, continue enjoying this thread! -Nico