Closing Arguments Delivered In Barry Bonds Trial

Bonds jurors are second-guessing their votes

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It’s not often that you see jurors from high-profile cases tracked down well after the case is over, but the New York Times has tracked down the jurors from the Barry Bonds case.

And guess what? Several of them are following the post-trial aspects of the case quite closely.  And whaddaya know, four of the jurors who voted to convict Bonds on the obstruction charge are uncomfortable with their verdict:

Wolfram, 25, who works with developmentally disabled adults in Concord, Calif., said four of the jurors were unsure of the wording of that charge in the first place. She said she and those other jurors noticed that Bonds in his grand jury testimony eventually answered whether Anderson had ever injected him. But he did so a few pages later in his testimony, Wolfram said, not in the section mentioned in the charge. She said she and the other three jurors thought Bonds should not be convicted if he ultimately answered the question.

She said, however, that the jury instructions — which were pretty controversial on the obstruction point and will surely form the basis of an appeal — specifically ordered the jurors to focus only on the part of the testimony highlighted by the prosecution in the indictment, and that she and the others took that to mean that they should ignore the part of the testimony a couple of pages later when Bonds actually answered the question that was asked.

Which is nuts, of course, because the law of obstruction of justice actually cares whether justice was, in fact, obstructed. It’s not about whether a specific question was answered the second it was asked.

Of course, that’s not the only source of juror dissatisfaction. Another juror thinks Bonds is getting off too easy:

“Once the trial was over, I got on the Internet and saw how much incriminating evidence was out there that we weren’t allowed to see as jurors,” Steve Abfalter, a juror from Antioch, Calif., said. “So knowing what I know now, it would be hard to handle if the conviction was thrown out because he was obviously so guilty.”

Understandable, I suppose. But the difference there is that Mr. Abfalter was properly instructed to avoid looking at stuff on the Internet that he feels was incriminating. Because we don’t try people on the Internet, we try them in a court of law. On the other hand, Ms. Wolfram and the other three jurors who were reluctant to convict Bonds on obstruction were improperly instructed to ignore actual grand jury testimony.

In each case, however, what the jurors have to say about it is legally irrelevant. Their job in this case is done and their feelings on the matter have no bearing on what happens next.

So, what happens next? Judge Ilston will have everyone — except the jurors that is — back in court on Friday in order to see what, if anything, should be done with this verdict.  Bonds’ lawyers will ask that it be set aside, but given that the reason for doing so would be rooted in their objection to the jury instructions Ilston herself gave the jury, it’s doubtful she’d actually do it.  That seems to be a matter for the appeals court.

More pressing at the moment will be the decision of the prosecution as to whether to re-try Bonds on the perjury counts on which the jury was unable to reach a verdict.  Also, assuming everything stands as-is, the judge will set a sentencing date for Bonds. A date which will likely be more months into the future than total time Bonds will actually be sentenced to. Which is fun.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.