Barry Bonds

UPDATE: Judge in Bonds trial calls newly-discovered tape “almost entirely inadmissible or irrelevant”

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UPDATE:  Judge Susan Illston said in court today that the tape prosecutors claim will rebut the damaging (to the prosecution) testimony of Dr. Arthur Ting is “almost entirely inadmissible or irrelevant.” She added that the contents of the tape “were not very substantive,” and that “almost all of this is people’s comments being driven by what is said to be newspaper articles and news reports” from around the time of the BALCO raid, which makes it less evidence than commentary.

There has not yet been a ruling — everyone is waiting for a full transcript — but based on the judge’s comments it seems highly unlikely that the tape will come into evidence. What’s more, given that the revelation of the tape led to a broader argument in court today regarding the prosecution’s seeming failure to turn over various bits of evidence to the defense, the entire affair could end up being worse for the prosecution than if the tape had never turned up to begin with.

1:35 PM:  Remember a couple of hours ago when I said that the testimony of Barry Bonds’ doctor, Arthur Ting, was devastating for the prosecution?  Yeah, well, things could turn the other way quickly: prosecutors revealed today that they have a tape that they believe will contradict his testimony from Thursday in which he said he never talked about Bonds’ steroids use with Steven Hoskins.

We don’t yet know what’s on the tape, but the prosecution certainly wouldn’t bring it up if it was bad for them. Well, at least I think not, because I would have assumed that they wouldn’t have called Ting in the first place unless they knew what he was going to say, and given that they didn’t immediately treat him like a hostile witness and confront him with all of this last week suggests that they were just as surprised as anyone else.

The judge is going to take the tape under advisement and rule on its admissibility. Criminal procedure is not my strong suit — so help me IdahoMariner and others with more crimlaw experience than me — but generally you can’t just trot out new evidence like this so late in the game unless it’s newly discovered (and even then not always), exculpatory for the defendant (thus protecting his due process rights) or so damn important that the injustice of not allowing it would outweigh the injustice of letting it lie. It’s unclear from the reports I’ve seen if this truly is new or merely newly relevant in light of Ting’s testimony, so it’s hard to see how this cuts.

If it shows that Ting lied, however, or even if it showed that his memory about conversations regarding Bonds’ steroids use was faulty, it would seem to snap Steve Hoskins’ credibility back into shape. And could even cause the jury to infer that perhaps Ting was trying too hard to help Bonds, depending on what they think of the cut of his jib. That would be a bad thing indeed for Bonds.

The court is in recess now and will be back later this afternoon. There will be no testimony today, however, because a juror got sick.

Report: Mark Trumbo signs three-year, $37.5 million contract with Orioles

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Mark Trumbo #45 of the Baltimore Orioles runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.

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Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.

Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.

Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.