Closing Arguments Delivered In Barry Bonds Trial

Barry Bonds files a motion to have his conviction set aside

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We knew this was coming, and the legal beagles out there will enjoy reading it, so here it is.  Barry Bonds moves to have his conviction set aside on four grounds.

The first: that truthful statements can’t constitute obstruction of justice, referring to that “I was the child of a celebrity” digression which formed the basis of his conviction. That statement was truthful, Bonds argues, and the law that the prosecution cites to say that such truthful statements can form the basis of obstruction is inapplicable to this case.

The second basis is the one that appeals to me the most and which I discussed most thoroughly following the conviction: the argument that the government can’t say Bonds was evasive because he repeatedly answered the question asked anyway. Basically, the government block quoted one instance of Bonds not answering directly and then ignored all of the times he did answer directly.  The jury ignored these other instances too, it seems.  In this second section Bonds argues that the prosecutor has an obligation — as the Supreme Court has stated — to clear up unresponsive answers as well, which is something else I’ve argued repeatedly that the Bonds prosecutors did not do at all. And which, it should be noted, is something that could be just as damaging to the criminal justice system as perjury could be.

The third basis is a general “the weight of the evidence did not support a conviction” argument, which is kind of hard to pull off, but Bonds has to try it anyway.

Finally, Bonds argues that his immunity deal prevented his prosecution.

Since no one is paying me $400 an hour to review the case law and totally slam into the legal arguments here, I won’t, but I will say that as far as these things go, it seems like a pretty strong motion. Mostly because it was a pretty weak conviction.

That said, success on postrial motions such as these is not common and the burden a defendant who has been convicted by a jury is high, so there’s no guarantee of success here.  An appeal may have a better shot.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.

Michael Bourn to miss four weeks with a broken finger

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 6:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles looks out of the dugout as he waits to get on deck to bat during the sixth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 6, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.

The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.

Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.