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.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.