From Wednesday’s SF Chronicle :

Last September, the Giants guaranteed the final year of Barry Bonds’ contract, for 2006, rather than make him reach the 400 plate appearances this season that would have guaranteed the $18 million. That day, general manager Brian Sabean famously said, “He could get 400 plate appearances in his sleep.”

Obviously, Bonds won’t come to bat 400 times this year, and the Giants are on the hook for that $18 million even if Bonds never plays another game. On Tuesday, managing general partner Peter Magowan (above, right) was asked if he regretted the decision to ensure Bonds’ 2006 contract more than a year in advance.

Magowan admitted to some regret, but at the same time defended the action and said it was unfair to beat the Giants over the head with 20-20 hindsight.

“If we’d known he wasn’t going to play a game this year, would we have done it? Obviously not,” Magowan said. “How could we know that after he led the team in games played last year? It’s so easy for you guys to write that we should have seen it coming, but you could have written that in 2004 or 2003 or 2002 or 2001. He was an old player by baseball standards, yet he was better than everyone else all those years.

“These things are always so much easier to say in retrospect, that we shouldn’t have done it. He asked for it, and based on what he had done for the Giants I think he deserved it at the time. He played (147) games last year. He was the (National League) MVP again. Possibly by showing that kind of respect for him and what he’s done for the Giants, it might have given him motivation or inspiration to give to us all he possibly could.

“I’d like to think if I had all the accomplishments he had, especially late in life like he’s had them, and I asked my organization for an extension, I might feel pretty let down, if not insulted, that they didn’t consider my request.”