Barry Bonds files a motion to have his conviction set aside

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We knew this was coming, and the legal beagles out there will enjoy reading it, so here it is.  Barry Bonds moves to have his conviction set aside on four grounds.

The first: that truthful statements can’t constitute obstruction of justice, referring to that “I was the child of a celebrity” digression which formed the basis of his conviction. That statement was truthful, Bonds argues, and the law that the prosecution cites to say that such truthful statements can form the basis of obstruction is inapplicable to this case.

The second basis is the one that appeals to me the most and which I discussed most thoroughly following the conviction: the argument that the government can’t say Bonds was evasive because he repeatedly answered the question asked anyway. Basically, the government block quoted one instance of Bonds not answering directly and then ignored all of the times he did answer directly.  The jury ignored these other instances too, it seems.  In this second section Bonds argues that the prosecutor has an obligation — as the Supreme Court has stated — to clear up unresponsive answers as well, which is something else I’ve argued repeatedly that the Bonds prosecutors did not do at all. And which, it should be noted, is something that could be just as damaging to the criminal justice system as perjury could be.

The third basis is a general “the weight of the evidence did not support a conviction” argument, which is kind of hard to pull off, but Bonds has to try it anyway.

Finally, Bonds argues that his immunity deal prevented his prosecution.

Since no one is paying me $400 an hour to review the case law and totally slam into the legal arguments here, I won’t, but I will say that as far as these things go, it seems like a pretty strong motion. Mostly because it was a pretty weak conviction.

That said, success on postrial motions such as these is not common and the burden a defendant who has been convicted by a jury is high, so there’s no guarantee of success here.  An appeal may have a better shot.

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).