Witness against Roger Clemens: "Who's Roger Clemens?"

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Yesterday we heard that the feds have subpoenaed a guy named Jeff Blair, who allegedly had the steroids goods on Roger Clemens. Last night, the guy said otherwise:

A former gym owner in the Houston area says he never supplied Roger
Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs and is looking forward to
meeting with a grand jury investigating whether Clemens lied to
Congress . . .

. . . Blair said Thursday night that he’s never met Clemens, any
members of the Clemens’ family or anyone representing Clemens,
including personal trainers or attorneys.

“I did not supply Roger Clemens (with) growth hormone,” Blair said.

Possibilities:

(a) The feds forgot that the purpose of subpoenaing witnesses to a grand jury is to obtain evidence that helps their case, rather than hurts their case;

(b) The feds knew that, but realized all along that they really
don’t have a case at all and simply don’t want the grand jury to feel
like it was convened for nothing; or

(c) This Blair guy was going to spill the beans on Clemens, but then
Clemens and his lawyer showed up in the back of the hearing room with
Blair’s long lost brother from Sicily — Godfather II-style — after
which Blair decided to trot out this “I never knew no godfather. I got
my own family, senator” business.

Though the Godfather fan in me hopes that the Pentangeli option is
really what happened, I’m leaning (b) here. Sure, as is the case with
Barry Bonds I personally I think that Clemens did steroids and lied
about it, but I also think that for several reasons a perjury
prosecution of these two guys is both difficult and ill-advised.

In neither case — Bonds before the grand jury or Clemens before
Congress — did you have prosecutors actually asking concise questions
with an aim at truly figuring out what these guys knew. To the
contrary, they were exercises in P.R., and because of that the
questions that were actually asked to these men and the facts the
questioners had at their disposal were lazy and weak.

Go read the transcripts: Bonds played dumber than a bag of hammers,
despite the fact that he’s actually a fairly bright guy. Clemens went
on and on about his life story whenever he was asked anything
difficult. Neither was given particularly difficult questions which
they were required to answer in an unambigious fashion. To the
contrary, each was allowed to talk openly and loosely for long
stretches at a time.

Which may very well establish that they were being evasive. In order
to make a case of perjury, however, showing evasiveness is not enough.
A witness needs to be nailed down. To be given hard and unambiguous
followup questions. Neither of these guys faced any of those things
during their day in the spotlight, and their answers can be spun and
qualified in many ways by their lawyers.

That’s a black mark against the prosecution, and in light of it I’d
be shocked if either Bonds or Clemens ever go to trial, let alone gets
convicted of perjury.

Cubs sign Brett Anderson to a $3.5 million deal

Brett Anderson
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.

Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.

When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.