UPDATE: Judge in Bonds trial calls newly-discovered tape “almost entirely inadmissible or irrelevant”

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UPDATE:  Judge Susan Illston said in court today that the tape prosecutors claim will rebut the damaging (to the prosecution) testimony of Dr. Arthur Ting is “almost entirely inadmissible or irrelevant.” She added that the contents of the tape “were not very substantive,” and that “almost all of this is people’s comments being driven by what is said to be newspaper articles and news reports” from around the time of the BALCO raid, which makes it less evidence than commentary.

There has not yet been a ruling — everyone is waiting for a full transcript — but based on the judge’s comments it seems highly unlikely that the tape will come into evidence. What’s more, given that the revelation of the tape led to a broader argument in court today regarding the prosecution’s seeming failure to turn over various bits of evidence to the defense, the entire affair could end up being worse for the prosecution than if the tape had never turned up to begin with.

1:35 PM:  Remember a couple of hours ago when I said that the testimony of Barry Bonds’ doctor, Arthur Ting, was devastating for the prosecution?  Yeah, well, things could turn the other way quickly: prosecutors revealed today that they have a tape that they believe will contradict his testimony from Thursday in which he said he never talked about Bonds’ steroids use with Steven Hoskins.

We don’t yet know what’s on the tape, but the prosecution certainly wouldn’t bring it up if it was bad for them. Well, at least I think not, because I would have assumed that they wouldn’t have called Ting in the first place unless they knew what he was going to say, and given that they didn’t immediately treat him like a hostile witness and confront him with all of this last week suggests that they were just as surprised as anyone else.

The judge is going to take the tape under advisement and rule on its admissibility. Criminal procedure is not my strong suit — so help me IdahoMariner and others with more crimlaw experience than me — but generally you can’t just trot out new evidence like this so late in the game unless it’s newly discovered (and even then not always), exculpatory for the defendant (thus protecting his due process rights) or so damn important that the injustice of not allowing it would outweigh the injustice of letting it lie. It’s unclear from the reports I’ve seen if this truly is new or merely newly relevant in light of Ting’s testimony, so it’s hard to see how this cuts.

If it shows that Ting lied, however, or even if it showed that his memory about conversations regarding Bonds’ steroids use was faulty, it would seem to snap Steve Hoskins’ credibility back into shape. And could even cause the jury to infer that perhaps Ting was trying too hard to help Bonds, depending on what they think of the cut of his jib. That would be a bad thing indeed for Bonds.

The court is in recess now and will be back later this afternoon. There will be no testimony today, however, because a juror got sick.

Report: Yankees acquire James Paxton from the Mariners

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Yankees have acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners. Corey Brock of The Athletic reports that the Mariners will be receiving three prospects from the Yankees: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a good return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worry about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field. The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.