Barry Bonds Perjury Trial Begins in San Francisco

Bonds Trial Update: A very yawny Wednesday

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It was a great day at the Barry Bonds trial if you’re into chain-of-custody testimony and talk about urinalysis.  I think that covers approximately 0.0045% of the population, and that’s a generous estimate. There are, like, three dudes, however, who love both topics so yesterday was like Christmas for them.

The day started with ballplayers at least: Marvin Bernard and Randy Velarde, each of whom testified about their Greg Anderson-supplied steroid use. There was one interesting moment when Bernard was grilled about whether he was coached by the prosecution to use the term “undetectable steroid,” which was a term he did not use in his 2003 grand jury testimony. Then he used the term “stuff.”

Bernard said he wasn’t coached, but yeah, using a precise term like that clearly would give the jury the impression that he had somewhat more precise information about what he was taking back when he played.  And that’s pretty critical given that Bonds’ testimony — and every other ballplayer’s, really — was vague about it all. But I have to ask: if everyone, back in 2003 was calling it “stuff” and didn’t really concern themselves with what, exactly, it was, doesn’t that cut against the prosecution’s case?

Velarde testified that Anderson gave him injections when they’d meet up in parking lots.  That may be the saddest, most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard. Get a room, will ya?

As for the chain-of-custody/urine testimony, the highlight was the cross-examination of IRS agent Mike Wilson, who was the one who seized the famous MLB pilot-program test samples during a raid. You know, the ones where it was later ruled that the government abused its authority in taking samples for players who were in no way associated with the BALCO investigation.  Wilson testified that he brought the urine samples home with him on an airplane, stashed in his garment bag.  So, ewww.

Today may be the last day in the prosecution’s case. There are three witnesses left: Bonds’ former personal shopper and the sister of his former lackey, Kathy Hoskins; Bonds’ orthopedic surgeon; and another urine sample analytics expert.

The key thing, though, will be something that could actually help the defense: Bonds’ grand jury testimony will be read.  As I’ve said time and again, the jury is not going to hear a lot of stark lies. At least nothing that sounds like it. They will hear confusing, multi-part rambling questions premised on scientific terms, followed by a mostly confused-sounding and often rambling Barry Bonds.

The jury doesn’t need to believe everything that Bonds says in this testimony in order to acquit him. But they do need to believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he lied in order to convict him.  I’ve read that testimony before and it’s about as clear as mud.  This may not go as well for them as they hoped.

Indians close to signing ex-Nationals reliever Craig Stammen

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Right-hander Craig Stammen, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Nationals, is expected to sign with the Indians.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians “hope to finalize a deal” with Stammen today, adding veteran depth to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Stammen missed nearly all of last season following elbow surgery and the Nationals non-tendered him, but he’s scheduled to be ready for spring training. After struggling as a starter early in his career he’s posted a 3.02 ERA in 280 innings out of the bullpen, so if healthy it’d be a nice addition for Cleveland.

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
Associated Press
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.