Barry Bonds Perjury Trial Begins in San Francisco

The Barry Bonds trial has a jury and now Greg Anderson is on deck


Twelve people have been picked to sit in judgment of Barry Bonds. A couple of them are baseball fans, but not serious ones. They haven’t heard of BALCO or, if they have, they don’t know anything about it, really. I sometimes find myself surprised that someone could not know anything about this stuff but then I remember that I do nothing but read about baseball all day. If you asked me the first thing about any off-the-ice hockey news, for example, I couldn’t tell you a damn thing and I’m nominally a member of the sports media. It doesn’t shock me at all that you can find 12 people who are largely ignorant of the Barry Bonds case in a single day of jury selection. Guys like this tend to get left off juries.

According to the Daily News, one of the jurors is a young woman who graduated college Phi Beta Kappa, which makes me wonder who actually puts that down on official forms of any kind even if they are Phi Beta Kappa. Another flew choppers in Vietnam. One is always tempted to stereotype jurors based on this sort of information, but you almost always find yourself surprised by how they vote and what they thought about the trial when you interview them after a case. Everyone has jury horror stories, but for the most part people take the job seriously. They’re not perfect, but my experiences with juries are one of the things that allow me to maintain confidence in the system.

With a jury seated, today is the day that Greg Anderson gets called before Judge Ilston again, will refuse to testify again and, unless Judge Ilston is just sick of the guy, she will likely send him back to jail again.  One has to marvel at a person who is so committed to a course of action that has no apparent upside for him. A lot of commenters around here have said in the past that Bonds has to be paying the guy off or something, but if there’s one thing the government is outrageously good at doing it’s tracing money. If Anderson shows any amount of financial largess in the next decade — and I mean even if he buy premium gas or super-sizes his value meal — he’ll likely have IRS agents tracing his accounts back to his grade school paper route and monitoring them until his dying day, eager to see if they can find anything with which to bring new charges against Bonds and Anderson.  The upshot: I’m skeptical that Anderson’s refusal to testify is premised on some kind of payoff, be it promised, assumed or merely wished for.

Of final note was Judge Ilston’s order to the jurors, as reported in the Mercury News:

The judge and lawyers stressed in jury selection that the case, despite its dramatic connection to steroids and baseball, centers on allegations about lying under oath to a grand jury. “You must decide the case on the evidence presented at trial,” Illston told the potential jurors. “You will not be asked to decide whether you like or don’t like steroids.”

And with their theory blown out of the water, the government likely frantically re-wrote their opening statements and direct examinations.

Onward into the trial. Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area has a most excellent scene-setter for us. This story needs someone with Ray’s sense of humor covering it.  Stick with him throughout and this will all seen less depressing.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.

*’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.