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4.15.2004

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Buried in Scott Ostler's column today, Felipe Alou says Barry Bonds will be walked no matter what, but the key to success is the two guys hitting behind Bonds.

That's funny. Brian Sabean likes to say that the key is getting guys on base in front of Bonds so that walking him is less of an option. Ned Colletti said the same thing after opening day, pointing to the fact that after singles by Durham and Tucker, Roy Oswalt pitched to Barry and gave up the 3-run dinger.

So which is it? Should the Giants cover Barry's front or get his back? Why is there still disagreement between Alou and the front office on such a fundamental question?

I find the Sabeanesque answer (to the tune of, "Hey, if Babe Ruth were batting behind Bonds, he'd still be walked all the time") totally disingenuous. Sabean is as skilled an evasive answerer as any politician, but no one asks the follow-up question when he trots out the "Barry will get walked no matter what" schtick. The truth is, Bonds being walked all the time in front of a legitimate power threat means a lot more runs than Bonds being walked all the time in front of Edgardo Alfonzo and A.J. Pierzynski. And Sabean, for whatever reason (financial, philosophical, spiritual...OK, it's financial), refuses to sign or trade for the big power bat to hit behind Bonds.

I could understand it if they thought Todd Linden was on the cusp of being such a bat, ready to take over right field and the 5-hole next year. But he isn't. He's gotten off to a decent start in Fresno, but with his typical lack of patience and power. He could improve. He should improve. But he's no Dan Johnson or Justin Morneau, making a mockery of AAA pitching right out of the gate and practically begging for a big-show roster spot. He's no reason to wait and save money.

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