Greg Anderson is going back to jail

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Considering that Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds’ former trainer, has (a) already done over a year in jail for not testifying against Bonds; and considering that (b) the practical limit of any future refusal to testify against Bonds is the couple of weeks his trial will take to complete, it’s not at all surprising that Anderson has again refused to testify against Bonds.

He’ll sit in County for a week or two. Then he’ll resume the life that he’s been living these past several years. Compared to the last couple of stints, he can do it standing on his head.

More substantively, the judge ruled thusly:

Illston said she would allow testimony of Kimberly Bell, Bonds’s former mistress, that related to the physical and psychological changes she saw in Bonds.

Prosecutors said those changes would include how Bell noticed the shrinkage of Bonds’s testicles and the worsening of his sexual performance, which the government says indicate steroid use. The judge also will allow Bell to describe an incident in which she has said Bonds grabbed her by the throat and threatened her.

With the caveat that I haven’t read the briefs, I have no idea how this is coming in. At most — at the absolute most — this could be evidence of actual steroid use.  But this trial isn’t about whether Bonds used steroids. He all but admitted that he did during his original grand jury testimony, and the prosecution is going to introduce a positive drug test to that effect.  What this trial is about is whether Bonds knew that Anderson was giving him steroids.  What does this stuff have to do with his knowledge?

It seems to me that to the extent Bell has anything to add to the prosecution’s case, it would be statements she heard from Bonds suggesting that he knew exactly what he was taking.  How the crap about his testicles and how good he was in the sack seems rather beside the point as far as the rules of evidence are concerned.

Moreover, I agree with Bonds’ lawyers that the prejudice caused by her testifying about an alleged domestic violence incident would far outweigh any relevance it might have with respect to the matters at issue in this case. People who aren’t on steroids commit acts of domestic violence every day. Some of the most juiced up athletes in history have wonderful family lives. How does this tell us anything? What, aside from making Bonds look like an evil person in the eyes of the jury — does it accomplish?

Oh well, at least it will give Bonds’ lawyers the chance to grill Bell on the methods she used to estimate relative testicle size and sexual performance during the course of her relationship with Bonds. I mean, her credibility must be tested, no?  Heck, if the prosecutors want to make this into a lurid spectacle, let’s make it into a full-blown lurid spectacle.

Again I will note: your tax dollars at work.

Justin Verlander changed his mechanics to prolong his career

Justin Verlander mechanics
Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Last week, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reported that Astros starter and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander changed his mechanics in order to prolong his career. Specifically, Verlander lowered his release point from 7’2″ to 6’5″.

As Brooks Baseball shows, Verlander drastically altered his release point after being traded to the Astros from the Tigers on August 31, 2017. The change resulted in a huge bump in his strikeout rate. Verlander’s strikeout rate ranged between 16% and 27.4% with the Tigers, mostly settling in the 23-25% range. With The Tigers through the first five months of 2017, Verlander struck out 24.1% of batters. In the final month with the Astros, he struck out 35.8% of batters. He then maintained that rate over the entire 2018 and ’19 seasons with respective rates of 34.8% and 35.4%. Just as impressively, the release point also resulted in fewer walks. His walk rate ranged from 5.9% to 9.9% with the Tigers but was 4.4% and 5.0% the last two seasons with the Astros.

Verlander finished a runner-up in 2018 AL Cy Young Award balloting to Blake Snell before edging out teammate Gerrit Cole for the award last season. Despite the immense success, Verlander described his mechanics as unsustainable. Per The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan, Verlander said, “I changed a lot of stuff that some people would think was unnecessary. But I thought it was necessary, especially if I want to play eight, 10 more years.”

Verlander is 37 years old, so 10 more seasons would put him into Jamie Moyer territory. Moyer, who consistently ranked among baseball’s softest-tossing pitchers, pitched 25 seasons in the majors from 1986-2012.  He threw 111 2/3 innings with the Phillies in 2010 at the age of 47 and 53 2/3 innings with the Rockies in 2012 at 49. But aside from Moyer and, more recently, Bartolo Colon, it’s exceedingly rare for pitchers to extend their careers into their 40’s, let alone their mid- and late-40’s.

The Astros have Verlander under contract through 2021. The right-hander will have earned close to $300 million. He’s won a World Series, a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP Award, two Cy Youngs, and has been an eight-time All-Star. Verlander could retire after 2021 and would almost certainly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2027. That he continues to tweak his mechanics in order to pitch for another decade speaks to his highly competitive nature.