The highly unusual obstruction of justice conviction Barry Bonds was stuck with on April 13 was upheld by a federal judge on Friday night.
Bonds’ lawyers had asked for a new trial on the charge or an acquittal, but U.S. District Judge Susan Illston refused Friday to overturn the only unanimous decision reached by the jury in her courtroom four months ago. Jurors failed to reach a verdict on three counts charging Bonds with making false statements to a grand jury in 2003. Prosecutors have yet to say whether they plan to retry him on those three counts.
According to The Associated Press, the next step for Bonds is to appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which could leave things without a resolution until 2013. Bonds does have a strong case against the charge. As our own Craig Calcaterra broke it down this morning:
You’ll recall that the primary basis for Bonds’ motion was that one cannot or at least should not be convicted of obstruction of justice on the basis of giving “evasive testimony” when in fact he actually answered the question. And Bonds did — after a brief, meaningless digression — answer the question at issue with a straight “no” answer. And answering the question aside, the law in this area makes it clear: the burden is on the prosecutor to direct a less-than-cooperative witness to answer a question, not to simply let him ramble, throw his hands up in the air and cry “obstruction!” or “perjury!”
Sentencing has yet to be determined, but the common belief is that Bonds could spend anywhere from 3-6 months in jail if the conviction is upheld.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.