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Who should play in front of the Crawford Boxes?

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After a four game series sweep over the weekend, did the landscape change dramatically for remaining 45 games of the Astros' season? Or does the improved play mean little more than a better W-L record at the end of the season? The topic of the day though, is Barry Bonds. So: yea or nea?

This weekend saw the Astros do what they do best- beat the Cincinnati Reds. What's more, a four game series against the lowly San Francisco Giants is upcoming, adding fuel to the fire of an already burning optimism that's caught on with us 'Stros fans. Why not? After the doldrums of June and much of July, this team has been winning series- 5 out of 7 since the All Star Break. With a four game winning streak in tow, our ducks are lined up pretty well to surpass the .500 mark. There is one big issue, though, that is worth discussing.

Obviously, losing Carlos Lee is a problem that needs to be addressed. Ed Wade has already come out and said that Reggie Abercrombie, and Darin Erstad are slated to fill the void in LF. In doing so, Wade shot down any possibility of Barry Bonds coming to Houston. Now, I don't know how ya'll feel about the Homerun King*, but suffice it to say, I have no problem with having him on this team. Here's why:

I know this probably isn't the fairest or most scientific of comparisons, but here's how Carlos'  abbreviated 2008 campaign compares to Barry Bonds' abbreviated 2007 season:

 

Player (Year) HR RBI OPS BA Games Played/AB's
Carlos Lee (2008) 28 100 .937 .314 115/436
Barry Bonds (2007) 28 66 1.045 .276 126/340

Something to think about, if nothing else. One of more overlooked facts of his record breaking season, was that Barry OPS'ed above 1.000. He was, again, one of the best players in the majors, despite being 42 years old.

The other on field issue is their defensive play. On 43 year old knees, would Barry be able to adequate patrol LF enough to justify his place in our lineup? This is where a comparison between the two gets murkier, because it becomes difficult to compare the two. Statistics on Barry, beyond fielding percentage, haven't been collected since 2006. Errors and fielding percentage don't really tell us much about either Bonds or Lee, because all those stats do is tell us what happened on balls in play that they were able to make a play on, in the opinion of an official scorer.The Hardball Times carries a great list of statistics that can't be found in most places. One such statistic is a defensive stat known as Revised Zone Rating (RZR). It's a pretty simple stat- it tells us the percentage of plays within a fielder's zones of responsibility that he successfully converts into an out. That being said, Carlos had an RZR of .845. Not great when compared to other NL left-fielders, but we could have assumed that coming in. In 2006, Bonds' RZR was .855. Not a stellar number either, but serviceable when taking into account the larger zones he had to cover in San Fran's expansive home ballpark. What can this tell us? For starters, Carlos has improved his defense compared to last year. Another is that at age 41, Barry was still a comparatively better fielder than Carlos is in his early 30s. Bonds is a multiple time Gold Glover, but it's still somewhat impressive that he could still play decent defense at such an advanced age.

So, perhaps Carlos would be a better defensive left-fielder than Bonds in 2008. Their offense would most likely be comparable, given Bonds' 2007 numbers, and the fact that he's actually healthy this year. What we do know for certain is that Darin Erstad is OPS'ing below .700, and we cannot expect Reggie Abercrombie to do much with the bat either. All I'm trying to say, is that it would be worth bringing him in while the team is playing well, and at least giving it a shot. With the trades for LaTroy Hawkins, and Randy Wolf fresh in our memories, it is obvious Ed Wade will do just about anything to help this team win, no matter how dilusional we may think he is at times. Bonds should be no different. The collusion that major league teams have implemented against Bonds has gone far enough. His past sins be damned- the man can still play. For a team that has signed guys to contracts that can't even make that claim (Williams, Woody), Barry would offer the Astros a much needed bat and give legitimacy to the organization's desire to go "all-in" in trying to make the playoffs this season.