In an already widely quoted report in The New York Times -- the city's quaint left-wing alternative newspaper -- Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman in a cryptically circumspect response stopped short of saying he had not spoken to Jeff Borris, Barry Bonds' agent.
“I wouldn’t say I have not,” Cashman was quoted as saying with discernable hesitation. Then he added: "I don’t want to take this down the wrong path.”
Clearly, whatever Cashman intended to convey by his comment, he hardly could be expected to desire another rash of internet rumors that the Yankees are about to sign Bonds. And still -- even with the acquisition of outfielder Xavier Nady -- it cannot be altogether ruled out that Cashman yet would find room for the free agent home run king.
Has the team reversed course? Has another option been chosen? Is Bonds still on the table? It would seem one is left to draw the conclusion: Where there is smoke, there is more smoke.
Though the prospect of signing Bonds appears more and more remote, team Co-Chairman Hank Steinbrenner, after all, is on the record as having confirmed Bonds would be under consideration, whether briefly or not so briefly.
The key is that a confidential source already had intimated to MLBnewsonline that Cashman had his legal department draw up a proposed contract to have inked and ready for Bonds' signature once right fielder Hideki Matsui was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. It would be difficult to imagine that Cashman had that far without at least a cursory communication with Borris.
The main question remaining is, what does it all boil down to now? It would be a simple matter merely to deny any interest in Bonds, yet the team continues to stop short of so doing, even to the point of neither confirming or denying the speculation on the record when flatly confronted.
One thing for sure, if the Yankees fail to sign Bonds at this point, the whole matter must be filed under the topic: Anticlimax.