If you think (a) the Bonds trial couldn’t get any more cringe-worthy; and (b) I couldn’t find a way to make a second post about Barry Bonds’ testicles today, well, you’re quite mistaken.
After a couple of witnesses took the stand this morning, the jury was cleared and Bonds’ lawyers told the judge that Kimberly Bell — Bonds’ ex-girlfriend — testified about Bonds’ testicle shrinkage differently yesterday than she did before the grand jury. Back in 2003, Bonds’ lawyers say, Bell said Bonds’ testicles shrunk by 50%. Yesterday she said that they had shrunk, but not by as much.
The issue here is that Bonds’ lawyers are accusing the prosecution of withholding critical information. Specifically, that a key witnesses testimony was going to be different in front of the grand jury than it was at trial. While this doesn’t seem like a major deal on the surface — the less specificity we hear about Bonds’ testicles the better — the judge said this concerned her during the back-and-forth a few minutes ago. If the defense knew that Bell would present a moving target, it may have changed their entire case theme. And it would have made cross-examination of her a fundamentally different deal than the on-the-fly way it was dealt with yesterday.
The court is in recess at the moment, but it would not be at all shocking if at some point — maybe even after the break — the defense moved for a mistrial on the grounds that evidence was withheld. I’d be surprised if the motion was granted. There are ways to remedy this short of that, such as striking Bell’s testimony and/or making some sort of statement about it to the jury. But either way, it’s a serious issue and, even in the likely event that the case goes on, it could be damaging to the prosecution and could be a potentially major appeal issue for an appeals court that has been fairly pro-Bonds in previous rulings.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.