Bonds might pay for missed time

Manny Ramirez has reached a crossroads. Plus, notes on Cuban defectors, Barry Bonds and more.

Updated: November 3, 2003, 12:04 PM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
Cuban age veracity
Two Cuban players defected this past week and, frankly, I'm a little shocked they forgot to bring their birth certificates with them in the heat of the moment. The better of the two -- pitcher Maels Rodriguez -- claims to be 24 while the other is 31-year old Yobal Duenas. If Duenas is admitting to being 31 there is really no telling how old he is. This brings up an interesting question: when and why do Cuban players start lying about their age? Obviously, there is no need to do it while still on the island, is there? It's not like there is a need to be younger there for professional purposes. Do they begin lying about their age while young just in case they ever defect and need to look more appealing to Free World ballclubs? Maybe all baseball players -- regardless of nationality -- just lie about their age instinctively?

Bonds vs. Pujols redux
The votes are already in and counted, so it's probably academic to discuss the relative merits of Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols -- but let's do it anyway. The main complaint against Bonds' candidacy is that he missed 31 Giants games this year. That's a fair argument. After all, it's hard to be valuable if you're not there. (Personally, I'd cut him the slack because of the nature of the missed time, but that's just me.)

Barry Bonds
Bonds' numbers are too historic to ignore by voters.
There's a method used by Major League Baseball to determine batting champions that can be utilized in this situation as well. As you know, in order to qualify for a batting title, a player must make 3.1 plate appearances for every game his team plays. It works out to 502 for the 162-game schedule. If a player hits .390 but falls short of the requirement, what they can do is charge him with 3.1 at bats for every game missed and then see what his batting average looks like. If it still bests the man in second place, then he's the batting champion.
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at