The Astros lose their slugging left fielder for the rest of the season, and almost at the exact time, Barry Bonds is telling a packed house at AT&T Park in San Francisco, "I haven't retired."
Bonds wants to play. The Astros need a left fielder. Would the Astros want Bonds?
"No," general manager Ed Wade said. "I don't see that as a viable alternative for us at this point."
But what about a week from now? The Astros just swept the Reds. What if they take three of four from the Giants? And two of three from the Diamondbacks? What if a week from now, they're three out of the National League Wild Card lead?
"I don't think so, at this point," Wade said. "What we're trying to do right now is get our arms around not having Carlos, and figure out ways to fill the gap."
A lack of interest in Bonds doesn't mean the Astros aren't looking for outside help. They can still make a waiver wire deal between now and Aug. 31, and in the next few days, Wade and manager Cecil Cooper will discuss their options.
"There's always an ongoing goal to improve the club," Wade said.
The Astros have been criticized at times for staying the course with the club and not admitting that they're not in contention. A few weeks ago, that criticism appeared to be warranted.
But the Astros have won 12 of their past 16 games, and a win Monday would put them at the .500 mark for the first time since June 11.
They're also showing up in the Wild Card standings. They're 8 1/2 back and would have to jump over five teams, and they'd probably have to count on a dramatic collapse by a front-runner or two, a la the Cubs in 2004, in order to pull it off.
And, they'd have to do something similar to the 36-10 push of four years ago to make it to the postseason.
Improbable? With this pitching staff, and without Lee, yes. Impossible? Maybe not.
Could Bonds help? Sure. Should he? That depends on who you ask.
The vote from the owner's box: no.
"We certainly have given no consideration whatsoever to that," Drayton McLane said. "Ed Wade and I have spoken about Carlos' injury, but have not considered any major additions to the team, and I doubt we would [consider Bonds]."
Even if they get within striking distance in another week or so?
"There's a long way to go," McLane said. "I think we need to see how well we play. We haven't given [signing Bonds] any consideration, and I don't think we'd go that direction."
The vote from the manager's office: no.
"As far as I'm concerned, I don't think that's a possibility, no," Cooper said. "Not that he's not a good player.
"I'm sure there will be a lot of speculation, I'm sure," Cooper added. "That's one of the first things that popped into my head [when Lee was hurt] -- well, they'll be saying that Barry Bonds is coming."
Bonds undoubtedly brings baggage. His legal troubles aren't likely to go away soon, and the attention he would draw would bring a circus-like atmosphere to a relatively tranquil clubhouse. The Astros are already closely tied to two players who were caught up in the mess of the Mitchell Report aftermath -- Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada.
But purely from a baseball standpoint, would signing Bonds, whose services would be needed for less than three months, help the Astros?
The vote from the locker room: yes.
"I'd love to have him on the team," Lance Berkman said. "I think he'd be great, if he could perform at a level we're accustomed to seeing. That's obviously an 'if,' given his age .
"With a talent like that, you never know. If he'll play for the minimum, I'd certainly take a flyer on that."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less