It certainly looks like Barry Bonds’ criminal conviction is going to be overturned

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Note: This was published last night. I’m giving it a bump for the morning crowd.

Today oral arguments were heard before an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the matter of The United States of America vs. Barry Bonds. A decision won’t be issued for some time, one presumes, but from the sounds of it, Barry Bonds’ 2011 obstruction of justice conviction is going to be overturned.

Thanks to a Good Friend of HardballTalk, the entire oral argument is on video below. If you don’t wish to watch it all, however, know this much: the court reamed the prosecutors, demonstrating skepticism to the point of being dumbfounded that a person could be convicted of obstruction of justice on the basis which Bonds was convicted.

The court asked all manner of questions of the prosecution about how Bonds’ answer to a question about steroid use which he (a) actually answered;  and (b) was found by the jury to have answered truthfully, could be obstruction. They also excoriated the prosecution over the fact that Bonds’ allegedly obstructing statement wasn’t even set forth in his indictment and that the instruction the jury was forced to follow on the matter essentially mandated that Bonds be convicted no matter what he said. Put as plainly as possible: the jury wasn’t allowed to actually see that Bonds, you know, answered the question.

It this all sounds familiar to longtime readers, that’s because I identified these as fatal flaws to the prosecution on the very day the jury rendered its verdict. After the trial was over even the jury felt like the outcome was wrong, learning after the fact that Bonds did, in fact, answer the question and saying that because of the instruction, they felt they were obligated to convict. Legal experts were close to unanimous that the case was botched by the trial judge. Well, almost all legal experts. Some claimed this was a “triumph for the prosecution.” Those people were nuts, of course.

So, where that leaves us: a small chance, I suppose, that the judges’ harshness with the prosecution today was merely to make extra sure that the conviction was proper (sometimes judges are harder on the side for whom they plan to rule in oral argument in that way), but I am skeptical that’s what happened here. Here they seemed dumbfounded. The signal the judges were sending was strong, and that signal was that the Barry Bonds’ conviction rests on impossibly shaky ground and that it must be overturned.

That’s right: for the 2,559th time, Barry Bonds is gonna walk. That’s a record, you know.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.