Baseball’s winter meetings are taking place in Nashville this week. New Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly spoke with the media about Barry Bonds, who signed on last week to be the team’s hitting coach. Most of Mattingly’s commentary was unsurprisingly banal — “this is probably one of the best hitters that’s ever played talking about he’s just a rookie coach and talking about his job is just helping guys” — but this part will raise some eyebrows. Via Big League Stew:
As of right now, this whole thing seems pretty promising. If Bonds is willing to be a teacher, and can deal with the every day minutia of the job, he should be pretty successful. Bonds was one of the best hitters ever, and should be able to impart at least some of that wisdom on the players. If that doesn’t work out, it sounded like Mattingly had another idea. “Barry could play, I bet,” he said. “He looks like he could still play.”
Mattingly was joking, obviously … but was he? The 51-year-old Bonds is probably still good enough to be the third best hitter on the Marlins. If the team slumps early, there’s a chance we could see Barry Bonds player/coach. Does that seem ludicrous? This is the same team that made their general manager an on-field manager last season. The Marlins have done crazier things!
We’re still in the honeymoon phase with Mattingly and Bonds in Miami. As Jeff Passan wrote last week, if Marlins history is any indication, this won’t end well. However, that’s not to say that there won’t be a good stretch in between (and, from our perspective, at least this whole experiment should be interesting).
I clicked through the videos of Mattingly speaking yesterday, and didn’t catch the part where he lightheartedly broached the idea of Bonds as a player/coach, though he laughed off a similar suggestion from Chris Rose and Kevin Millar at the 3:40-mark of this video:
However serious Mattingly was or wasn’t in his comments about Bonds, an MLB comeback for him north of 50 is something all of us should be rooting for.