Prosecutors drop six of the 11 charges against Barry Bonds

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You know the sign of a righteous prosecution advanced by confident prosecutors? Dropping half the charges on a several-years-old indictment relating to a seven-year-old incident on the eve of trial:

Among the charges eliminated from earlier indictments were claims that Bonds perjured himself by denying that he received testosterone from his trainer, Greg Anderson, and that Anderson supplied him with certain lotions – known as “the cream” and “the clear” – before 2003.

I read the entirety of Bonds’ grand jury testimony when it was released and some of Agent Jeff Novitzky’s, and the stuff about Anderson supplying Bonds the cream and the clear may have been the most muddled part about it. Novitzky had mistakenly — Falsely? You be the judge! — told the grand jury that the cream and the clear were actually considered controlled substances at the time, when they were not.  Likewise, a lot of the government’s loose and sloppy questioning of Bonds at the time was premised on them being illegal substances.  Bonds’ answers on this were all over the place. When asked if he was given the cream he’d say stuff like “well, we were at the ballpark …” and kind of fart around for ten minutes after that.

I’m guessing that a big reason the government is dropping questions about the cream and the clear from the indictment is that they don’t want Bonds’ defense team to kill them about the “were the cream and the clear illegal at the time” angle, whether such an attack would be legitimate or not.  For example, the defense could argue that the questions were based on a false premise which thus confused Bonds and rendered his testimony perfectly kosher.

Or — though it is beside the point because one can perjure themselves about perfectly legal activities — they might just bark loudly all trial long about how “what Bonds took wasn’t even illegal at the time! What a waste this is!”  Which, while kind of irrelevant, may be more effective.  Now that those things are out of the indictment, they’re not going to be able to refer to them much.

Overall this doesn’t change the nature of the prosecution. Bonds is still accused of lying and obstructing justice and the case against him is still a monumentally weak and wasteful one.  If they get a conviction, it will likely be over one of the more innocuous and inexplicable lies Bonds told under oath such as saying “not that I know of” when asked “did you ever use a syringe.”  Dumb question. Bizarre denial. Pretty meaningless even in the context of a wasteful and pointless grand jury investigation back in 2003.

Your tax dollars at work, citizen.

Padres acquire Phil Hughes from Twins

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Twins right-hander Phil Hughes is headed to the Padres, according to announcements from both teams on Sunday. The Padres will also receive the 74th overall draft pick and cash considerations from the Twins, who are getting minor league catcher Janigson Villalobos in return. Minnesota is expected to absorb $7.5 million of Hughes’ $22 million contract; per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, they’ll take on his remaining salary for the 2018 season and pay an additional $5.7 million in 2019.

Hughes, 31, is far from the 16-win, sub-4.00 ERA hurler the Twins enjoyed in 2014. He hasn’t pitched more than 60 innings in any season since 2015, due in part to multiple bouts of back stiffness and shoulder surgeries. He was designated for assignment last week after missing significant time with a left oblique strain and delivering a 6.75 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 6.0 SO/9 through his first 12 innings of 2018.

Villalobos, meanwhile, will provide the Twins with some depth as he continues to work his way through the minor league system. The 21-year-old backstop recently completed a circuit with the Padres’ rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League, slashing .275/.367/.388 with eight extra bases and a .755 OPS in 98 PA.

The real get for the Padres isn’t Hughes (even with much of his salary already accounted for), but the Competitive Balance B selection in next week’s amateur draft. As MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell points out, the club lost their second-round pick after inking Eric Hosmer to a massive eight-year, $144 million deal back in February.