Monday, September 8, 2014

Player Profile: Bobby Bonilla

I have 123 cards of Bobby Bonilla. This one is from 1990 Donruss MVP. 

Playing career: OF-3B Bobby Bonilla was one of the biggest free-agent busts in history. The Mets signed him to a huge contract after the 1991 season, in which he hit .302 with 18 HR and 100 RBI for the Pirates. In 1992, his first year for the Mets, Bobby Bo hit just .249 with 19 HR and 70 RBI. Looking back now, you can see that he was probably a prime candidate for a free-agent bust. Other than high RBI numbers coming from hitting in the great Pirates’ line-up of the early 90s, Bonilla’s batting numbers were actually rather pedestrian – in fact, he only reached .900 OPS one time in his career, and that was in 1995, the year the Mets gave up on Bobby and traded him to the Orioles. Now, when there is a greater understanding of how misleading RBI numbers are, the Mets would probably not make that kind of mistake. No, never mind, they are the Mets, of course they would!

My memories: He actually beat the Mets with an extra-inning home run while with the Pirates in a game at Shea Stadium I went to in 1989. I also remember him as a big free agent bust for the Mets, a problem both on the field and off it. I remember him wearing ear plugs on the field so he wouldn’t hear the boos. I had a social studies teacher in high school who was a big Mets fan and he had a big photo of Bonilla cut out of a newspaper that he had on the wall.

Interesting facts: Bonilla returned to the Mets in 1999, but the team wanted to release him after the season. However, they would owe him $5.9 million. Rather than pay him the $5.9 million in a lump sum, they decided to pay him $1.2 million a year for twenty-five years beginning in 2011, with the idea that they could invest the $5.9 million and actually make more off of the deal. Of course, the Mets’ investment advisor was Bernard Madoff, so, in typical Mets fashion, they are paying one of their worst players of the 20th century for decades in the 21st century, and all at a loss.

Where he is now: Special Assistant, Player Services at the MLB Players Association.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Bobby B, between Bobby Bones, a Nashville radio host, and Bobby Bonds, the former baseball star. There do not appear to be any other prominent Bobby Bonillas.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Juan Bonilla.

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