Clemens’ lawyers wants a Congressman to take the stand

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Congressman Darrell Issa is now the chairman of the committee before which Roger Clemens appeared and allegedly perjured himself and which referred his testimony to prosecutors. Issa wasn’t the chairman at the time, however.  And at the time, he was highly critical of both the hearing itself and the referral for prosecution.

Indeed, he was extremely outspoken about it all, saying the following in newspaper articles at the time:

And then there is Issa, who ascended to chairman in 2011 after Republicans took control of the House. The California congressman had seemed perturbed that the committee was holding the hearing, saying it appeared too focused on alleged steroid use by an individual player.

“We’re not prosecutors, and we’re not supposed to worry about a former pusher and a former [alleged] user,” he said. “We’re supposed to be dealing with a whole industry that had a problem.”

He also described the hearings as a witch hunt. “We don’t really have a mandate to be looking at this,” he told New York’s Daily News. “To me, it smacks of the McCarthy era.” He later told the same newspaper that “this was all about entrapping Roger Clemens.”

There’s a battle on now to get Issa to take the stand in the Roger Clemens prosecution.  Clemens lawyers have subpoenaed him.  Issa is fighting the subpoena. The prosecutors are arguing it’s not relevant.  There will be a hearing on it all this week. How this cuts in my view:

  • It’s totally understandable why Clemens’ lawyers want Issa: they want to get him to slag on the prosecution like he did to the newspaper, to make jurors think this is all a waste of time;
  • That said, it’s hard to see how this is relevant. A congressional staffer already testified for the prosecution to establish whether or not the alleged perjury was “material.”  I suppose the defense has the right to offer its own evidence that the testimony was NOT “material,” but the stuff Issa said in that article doesn’t necessarily relate to that.  It relates to whether the hearing itself was useful or ill-advised.  If Issa is forced to testify, I could see a situation where he’d be barred from offering his opinions regarding the propriety of the hearing, even if he could talk about whether what Clemens said truly mattered;
  • As for Issa, he’s probably fighting the subpoena to avoid the awkward situation in which he’d risk calling his own committee’s work useless. I mean, he may think that particular hearing was, but the chairman of a committee likely doesn’t want to get into the business of doing this sort of thing. Not that it hasn’t happened before.  The linked article talks about past committee members testifying in referred prosecutions, sometimes on opposite sides of one another.

There are also some political overtones here in that Issa has been ripping Obama administration officials regarding responding to subpoenas while he’s trying to duck one of his own.  That kind of bores me, but the chatter surrounds it.  It’s made it juicy for the politicos anyway.

Fun times in the trial that will never end.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.