The evidence portion of the Bonds trial is over.
The prosecution rested yesterday, and this morning prosecutors dropped one of the charges: the one about whether Greg Anderson induced him “to take anything before the 2003 season.” Prosecutors had been of the view that the charge could mean that Bonds took any kind of steroid before 2003. The Judge made it clear, however, that the charge properly referred to whether Bonds used the cream and the clear prior to 2003, and there was no evidence in the record about that at all. The judge would have dismissed the count on the defense’s motion, but the prosecutors preempted that.
With that it was the defense’s turn. And they called … no one. Which is actually pretty common in criminal trials, and not terribly surprising here. The prosecution did a good job of rebutting large portions of their own case. The one big problem for Bonds — Kathy Hoskins’ testimony that she saw Anderson inject Bonds with something — is pretty much unrebuttable. At least unless Bonds wanted to take the stand himself and say that she didn’t see what she thought she saw. Which would constitute the biggest bit of malpractice in living memory.
The defense has rested. The jury has been sent home for the day. Closing arguments will begin tomorrow. As it stands, my best guess is that Bonds is convicted on the “did Anderson ever inject you with anything” charge and acquitted on the “did you knowingly take steroids” questions and everything else. If the jury was sufficiently angered or confused by the prosecution’s disorganization, they could just acquit him on everything — I’ve seen it happen — but that would seem to be contrary to the evidence on the injection charge.
But hey, therein lies the beauty and terror of the jury system: you never know what they’re thinking until after they’re done doing that voodoo they do.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.