Barry Bonds

Not the best day for the prosecution in the Barry Bonds case

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It was a short day for the Bonds trial — they must all want to get home in time to watch the Giants-Dodgers — and they are now wrapped up for the week.  A bad morning for the prosecution, though, as Bonds’ former orthopedic surgeon, Arthur Ting, totally killed one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, Steve Hoskins.

Hoskins testified last week that he had discussed his concerns about Bonds’ steroids use with Ting many times. In fact, Hoskins said more than 50 times during his testimony. And when he did, Bonds’ lawyer asked him “are you sure about that?” I questioned that at the time, but we now know why he said it:  today Ting said that he and Hoskins only had one cursory exchange ever about steroids. And that it wasn’t even about Bonds. It was just a request for generic steroids information.

That testimony kills Hoskins’ credibility, it seems to me. Seems to be the case for the prosecutors too, who admitted that Hoskins had been “impeached heavily” by Ting’s testimony. And it seemed that way to the judge too, as she later grilled the prosecutors about whether they knew of these inconsistencies outside of the presence of the jury. Between an angry judge and the fact that Hoskins is the guy who has had the most to say about Bonds’ steroids use, this is a big problem for the prosecution.

Also helpful for Bonds was Ting’s testimony that all of Bonds’ alleged steroids symptoms — described by Kimberly Bell — could have been caused by corticosteroids that Ting prescribed for Bonds following surgery he had in 1999, undercutting the notion that such symptoms had to have been called by anabolic steroids supplied by BALCO and Greg Anderson.

After Ting came Kathy Hoskins, Bonds’ former personal shopper and sister of Steve Hoskins. She was far better for the prosecution, testifying that she actually saw Greg Anderson inject Barry Bonds with something on one occasion.  This could, if it holds up, be enough for a conviction on one count inasmuch as Bonds testified that Anderson never injected him with anything and was charged with lying about it. It does not seem, however, that she knew what the substance was, though she did say that Bonds referred to it as something that was “undetectable” and that he took it before road trips. Still, it is likely not enough to get him on the “did you take steroids” counts by itself.

After Hoskins came anti-doping expert Don Catlin, who testified about how his organization figured out what “the clear” was, testifying about how difficult it was to detect. Seems to me that the more they play up the high-tech nature of the substance the less likely it is that a dumb baseball player would be able to understand it, but really, it doesn’t seem to do a ton for either the defense or the prosecution.

All in all a fairly big day: two of the most significant witnesses against Bonds — Kimberly Bell and Steve Hoskins — were harmed. However, Bonds may have been sunk on the count regarding taking injections.  I think the defense will take that trade.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Jose Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.