Barry Bonds is gonna skate on the perjury charge


Barry Bonds suit.jpgThe 9th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals just ruled
that prosecutors in the Barry Bonds/BALCO perjury case may not present urine
samples and other evidence that the government says shows Bonds knowingly used steroids. This ruling upholds a lower court decision barring prosecutors from showing
the jury any evidence collected by Bonds’ personal trainer Greg

Not to go too technical with this, but the basic argument by Bonds’ lawyers was that the prosecutors should not be able to admit into evidence test results, calendars and other documents which purported to prove that Barry Bonds knew he was taking steroids because they were hearsay.  They could not be authenticated, they could not be verified for accuracy, and there was no way for Bonds’ lawyers to attempt to impugn the evidence whatsoever.

The prosecutors’ arguments to the contrary revolved around several exceptions that exist allowing hearsay evidence to be admitted. I read the appellate briefs and I can tell you: the prosecutors’ position was not at all convincing. Basically, they argued that the records, though hearsay, should be
admitted because, well gosh darn it, this is the only evidence we have! However satisfying such an argument was, legally speaking it was an argument that was dead on arrival. Which, by the way, I predicted over a year ago when the prosecutors started making it.

And really, it shouldn’t have gotten that far. As we learned more than two years ago, Bonds’ testimony wasn’t all that strong a basis for a perjury charge to begin with. The guy took steroids, sure, and he was certainly trying to be coy about it at the time, but it never seemed to me at all that the prosecutors did the job necessary to justify a criminal charge over it. That kinda matters because we don’t put people in jail in this country because they’re jerks who probably did it. We require the government to bring strong cases and prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.  There were doubts aplenty here as to whether Bonds was lying to the grand jury.

The only way that evidence would be able to come in was if Greg Anderson testified about it, explaining what each document represented, when he prepared it and why. Greg Anderson famously refused to testify, however, and did a lot of time in jail because of it.  It was ultimately his decision, but one that the prosecution was stuck with.  Once he made it, the viability of any prosecution of Barry Bonds ended.

Or it least it should have ended it. This ruling should finish the job. To date, however, the prosecution has taken every available opportunity to delay the case. They waited until the eve of trial to take their appeal. They extended the thing with an unorthodox en banc appeal that delayed things even longer. In light of this, I’m sure they’ll do some more delaying before they finally and formally dismiss the case.

But dismiss it they should.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.