Barry Bonds court appearance

Some fun evidentiary fights in the Barry Bonds trial

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There’s an article in the New York Daily News today that gives a rundown of some of the evidentiary fights the Barry Bonds prosecution and defense are having.  Among them:

  • Bonds’ ex-girlfriend Kimberly Bell posed in Playboy and told them her story back in 2007. The government wants Bonds barred from mentioning that and showing photos from the magazine;
  • The prosecution wants Bell to testify about Bonds being mean and disrespectful to others, that his temperament changed over time and that he once threatened someone with violence;
  • The government wants to present photos of Bonds from various stages of his career to show the changes in his physique; and
  • The government wants the judge to disallow Bonds’ attorneys from suggesting that the government had a vendetta against Bonds and singled him out for prosecution.

Litigation is rough business, obviously, and of course each side is going to try to get in anything they can to win. But these particular evidentiary fights — however the law demands that they be decided — do paint an illuminating picture of how absurd this prosecution really is.

An allegedly key witness told her story once for profit and fame, but prosecutors want to keep anyone from using that to attack her credibility. Of course, this whole prosecution is about bringing down a famous person, so it’s amusing that Bonds probably won’t be allowed to go there.

Saying a prosecution is a vendetta or that a defendant was singled-out is generally not admissible, but it’s certainly the case that those less famous than Bonds who testified most similarly to Bonds such as Benito Santiago aren’t in the dock. There is no escaping that Bonds was singled out here — it’s probably the biggest thing animating the general zeitgeist of the thing —  so, again, it’s amusing in a pathetic sort of way that Bonds probably won’t be allowed to go their either.

Evidentiary rules generally prohibit prosecutors from putting on evidence of a witness’ character when those character traits have nothing to do with the charges, but the prosecution wants to tell the jury that Bonds was a meany-head.  Maybe this comes in as evidence of “roid rage,” but I don’t see how this isn’t the same thing as the prosecution telling the jury that Bonds is just a bad seed, so you probably should just convict him.

Finally, anyone who knows anything about athletes and steroids knows that it’s possible for someone to take steroids and not have dramatic changes to their physique. Indeed, we mock the sports writers who play that “that dude got huge, so he must be juicing” game.  But really, that’s a big part of the prosecution’s game here. The prosecution is basically Murray Chass.

Maybe the prosecution should, legally speaking, win all of these battles.  But the issues they’re raising seem to say more about the nature of the Barry Bonds prosecution than they do about whether Barry Bonds lied under oath.

Frankie Montas out 2-4 months after rib resection surgery

Chicago White Sox pitcher Frankie Montas throws against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Per Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA, the Dodgers announced that pitching prospect Frankie Montas will be out two to four months after undergoing rib resection surgery to remove his right first rib.

The Dodgers acquired Montas from the White Sox in a three-team trade in December 2015 that also involved the Reds. The 22-year-old made his big league debut with the Pale Hose last season, allowing eight runs on 14 hits and nine walks with 20 strikeouts in 15 innings across two starts. Montas had spent the majority of his season at Double-A Birmingham, where he posted a 2.97 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 48 walks in 112 innings.

MLB.com rated Montas as the 95th-best prospect in baseball, slipping a few spots from last year’s pre-season ranking of 91.

Athletics acquire Khris Davis in trade with Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers' Khris Davis swings on a home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash
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The Brewers’ rebuild continues, as the club announced on Twitter the trade of outfielder Khris Davis to the Athletics in exchange for catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Bubba Derby. MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that the A’s have designated pitcher Sean Nolin for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Davis.

Davis, 28, was the Brewers’ most valuable remaining trade chip. He blasted 27 home runs while hitting .247/.323/.505 in 440 plate appearances this past season in Milwaukee. Adding to his value, Davis won’t become eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season and can’t become a free agent until after the 2019 season. In Oakland, Davis will give the Athletics more reliability as Coco Crisp was injured for most of last season and is now 36 years old. Though he doesn’t have much of a career platoon split, Davis split time in left field with the left-handed-hitting Gerardo Parra last season. It’s unclear if the A’s will utilize him in a platoon as well.

With Davis out of the picture, Domingo Santana is a leading candidate to start in left field for the Brewers, GM David Stearns said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Nottingham, 20, started the 2015 season in the Astros’ system but went to the Athletics in the Scott Kazmir deal. He hit an aggregate .316/.372/.505 at Single-A, showing plenty of promise early in his professional career. With catcher Jonathan Lucroy on his way out of Milwaukee, the Brewers are hoping Nottingham can be their next permanent backstop.

Derby, 21, made his professional debut last season after the Athletics drafted him in the sixth round. Across 37 1/3 innings, he yielded seven runs (five earned) on 24 hits and 10 walks with 47 strikeouts. He’s obviously a few years away from the majors, but the Brewers are looking for high upside.

Yankees, Aroldis Chapman avoid arbitration at $11.325 million

Aroldis Chapman
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees and closer Aroldis Chapman have avoided arbitration, settling on an $11.325 million salary for the 2016 season. It is the lefty’s third and final year of arbitration eligibility.

Chapman had filed for $13 million while the Yankees countered at $9 million, so he gets slightly more than the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

With the Reds this past season, Chapman posted a 1.63 ERA with 33 saves and a 116/33 K/BB ratio over 66 1/3 innings. The Reds have opted to rebuild, so they traded him to the Yankees this offseason in exchange for four minor leaguers. Chapman, who turns 28 at the end of February, will make for a fearsome 1-2-3 punch in the back of the Yankees’ bullpen along with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances.

Indians sign reliever Tommy Hunter to $2 million deal

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that right-hander Tommy Hunter has agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the Indians. It’s a major-league deal, so Hunter gets a spot on the 40-man roster and will be in the Opening Day bullpen if he’s fully recovered from core muscle surgery.

Hunter split last season between the Orioles and Cubs, totaling 60 innings with a 4.18 ERA and 47/14 K/BB ratio. He had a sub-3.00 ERA in both 2013 and 2014, and has generally been a setup-caliber reliever since shifting to the bullpen full time.

He has good control and a mid-90s fastball, but Hunter has never missed many bats despite the big-time velocity and often struggles to keep the ball in the ballpark. He’ll likely fill a middle relief role in Cleveland initially.