Before I get into this, I want to state, unequivocally that I do not want this to happen.)
Alex Rodriguez is gone. Along with him went 50+ home runs, 150+ RBI and 140+ runs. Without A-Rod, the Yankees don't have a bat left in their lineup who opposing pitchers truly fear. There is only one such bat on the free agent market, and it belongs to one Barry Lamar Bonds.
Let's tackle this from a baseball perspective first, and more importantly, from the viewpoint of a Yankees team which is trying to rebuild and
remain competitive at the same time. Viewed through that light, signing Barry Bonds to a one-year deal absolutely makes baseball sense. He would be a power bat, in the middle of the lineup, who could be signed to a very short-term deal and provide the Yankee lineup with the power it is going to be lacking in 2008. Barry could be the full-time DH, bat 4th, hit 35 home runs (bringing his total to 800) and collect his 3,000th hit. On top of this, he'd have one last shot at a ring.
Even at 42 years, Barry was still one of the most productive batters in the National League last year (1.035 OPS). He played in 126 games, but that number could easily be 140-150 in the American League with no defensive wear-and-tear. His stroke would be perfect in Yankee Stadium, and honestly, this Yankee lineup would be the best surrounding cast of characters he's ever had, in his entire career. Matsui or Damon would have to be traded (or turned into a first baseman) to make room for him, but I don't see that as a deal breaker.
From the Yankee side of things, this moves makes even more sense. Last off season, they needed starting pitching, but they knew they didn't need to sign any long term deals. They had their own solution to the starting rotation percolating in the minor leagues. They went out and signed veteran starters to short-term deals (Pettitte, Mussina and Clemens), with the intention of temporarily restocking their staff to hold the fort while the young guys developed. This year, the young arms are in place and ready to make an impact, what they need is a stop-gap on the offensive side of the ball.
The drawbacks? Well, there are really too many to fit into one blog post. For starters, the Yankees just parted ways with the most selfish player in the American League, now they're going to bring in the only guy who could possibly give him a run for his money in the majors? Barry is used to running the clubhouse (or ruining the clubhouse, depending on who you ask.) Barry has the stigma of steroids hanging over everything he does. Everywhere he goes, there's a media circus. The commissioner is out to get him, literally. He generally seems like, or the at least the media portrays him as, an awful person.
Add to that laundry list the fact that Joe Girardi is managing this team and you get another list of reasons not to sign him. Bonds is older than Girardi. Girardi has very little managerial experience, this doesn't bode well for Bonds taking flak from him. Girardi is also seen as a task-master, demanding hustle at the very least from all of his players. Bonds hasn't run out a ground ball in five years. If Joe Torre was still the manager, I think he would've been able to bring Barry into the fold, or at least keep the clubhouse disharmony to a manageable level. I'm not sure if Girardi would be able to keep things under wraps. If this move did happen, I think it's safe to say Girardi wouldn't be on board from the get go, meaning his input and to some degree his authority would be undermined before he manages his first game. Barry would have that to hang over Girardi's head from day one.
The cons really do seem to outweigh the pros on this one, but there are a couple more things to look at. The free agent market is completely bare this year. Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter are the marquee names out there on the offensive side of the ball, and neither is a fit for the Bombers. Both will command long-term deals for too much money, and the Yankees have their center fielder for this year, and the future. Aaron Rowand is a nice player, but again, where would they play him. I have a feeling that Hank and Hal Steinbrenner want to make their presence known this year, and if the choice is between locking themselves into a horrible contract for a player who will not perform in the pinstripes, trading away one of their blue-chip prospects or signing Bonds to a one-year deal, I'm in favor of the latter. Maybe Bonds could keep it together for one season, after all, all Barry wants is to be wanted. Hank and Hal could bring him into the fold, lavish him with praise and a healthy salary and hope that would be enough to keep him in line. He'd then be off the books the following year when the free agent market could include Johan Santana, Jake Peavy, CC Sabathia, Carl Crawford, Vladimir Guerrero and Joe Nathan.
I'm hoping the Yankees eschew the free agent market altogether, but given the options out there, Barry Bonds might be the lesser of two evils. (How many times have you read that sentence before?)