The Winter Meetings were last week, but the action figures to continue this week in earnest. There will be a Lukewarm Stove, a separate Prince Fielder update, and a discussion of today’s tender deadline later today. Until then, Bullets…

  • Ryan Braun’s lawyer is adding to the chorus of folks saying, effectively, that Braun’s reported positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, which could leave the Brewers without their best player for 50 games, is “B.S.”: “He did not take performance-enhancing drugs, and anyone who writes that is wrong.” Gotta love the word “reported.” Or “allegedly.” Safety first.
  • The same article quotes a source close to Braun who says the levels of testosterone purportedly shown in Braun’s test were “insanely high, the highest ever for anyone who has ever taken a test, twice the level of the highest test ever taken.” This, the Braun camp will say, suggests something was wonky with the test, but won’t necessarily be used as direct evidence in the appeal (after all, it is evidence only of the fact that Braun had a ton of something in his system, and circumstantial evidence that someone could have polluted his test). Instead, it sounds like they plan to rely on the he-didn’t-know-and-had-no-reason-to-know-what-he-was-taking defense. Though legit, I’m not aware of that defense yet working in any of these sport-steroid type cases, baseball or otherwise.
  • Yesterday we discussed the Cubs’ striking lack of television revenue relative to other large market teams, and BN’er Section 409 found a great article from 2009 when the Ricketts took over the Cubs. Obviously, the numbers might have increased slightly since then, but here’s the breakdown: the Cubs netted about $75 million in broadcast rights in 2009. But that figure includes about $28 million in payments from the league for MLB’s national package, and about $5 million in radio rights. That puts the Cubs’ dedicated TV revenues well under $50 million annually. To re-emphasize: the Angels just got $150 million annually. Here’s hoping these brutal contracts do indeed expire by 2016, if not sooner.
  • The Cleveland Indians are going to sign former top Cubs prospect Felix Pie to a minor league deal. Pie got the impatient treatment from the Cubs, with aggressive promotions that saw him reach AAA by 21. He debuted with the Cubs at 22, and was miserably bad. The Cubs dumped him on the Orioles (where all former Cubs prospects go to die), and he was almost average for a couple years in part-time duty. But he reverted to misery last year, and now he’ll have to try his hand with the Indians. After all of that, it’s amazing that he’s still just 26.
  • Kerry Wood is hosting an event on January 13 (during the Cubs Convention) at Harry Caray’s Tavern, where you can be served your appletini by a Chicago Cubs player. The proceeds of the event, which features music and food and all that good stuff, will benefit the Kerry Wood Family Foundation. Details here.
  • Dave

    According to Twitter,  Darwin Barney is going to be a bartender.  Every woman in there is leaving pregnant.

  • CubSouth

    Only one question Brett, how did u manage to steal a picture of me? I could have sworn I never take my shirt off when I’m being photographed. Ok, two questions….I live in Ga, is there a possibility I wont be seeing many, if any, more Cubs games on WGN, after the contract is up?

    • Dave

      I’d say its unlikely that WGN continues to carry the Cubs.  Hopefully a Cubs network will be carried on DirecTV like Yes and NESN are.

      • Pat

        Having never seen Yes or NESN, what do the do to fill the other 90+ percent of the programming schedule?

        • Lou

          To respond to that question, they have a sports highlight hour. Also, historical pieces on the teams and broadcast other sports when not doing baseball, like pro hockey, college hockey, and lesser known collegiate sports. They also do “hot stove” stuff. We could also see radio programs on tv–kind of like Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            *cough* the blogger hour *cough*

      • montellew

        If WGN no longer carries the Cubs, how will we write to the late Steve Goodman to change his song like he did for David Allan Coe?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      To the first – my telescoping lens is “insanely long” (which is not a euphemism, but instead a nod to the subject of the post). To the second, I agree with Dave – probably not. But there would hopefully be a specific network you could pay for.

      • CubSouth

        Thanks, although I will miss watching them on WGN, if its for the greater good of the Cubs, I shall do my part and suffer the loss.

  • die hard

    Now we know how Braun was able to swing one of the heaviest bats in the majors….signing contract extension + guilt over getting his while Fielder lingers + need to show he deserved extension = incentive to juice up

  • Toosh

    And yet the author used the word “allegedly” in a previous article on Braun. Hmmm.

  • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

    “Instead, it sounds like they plan to rely on the he-didn’t-know-and-had-no-reason-to-know-what-he-was-taking defense…”

    This defense is getting old, it is the baseball equivelant to the “I was just following orders” BS.  When you make $15M a year, you can afford to hire a team of people who make sure that you aren’t “inadvertently” taking “alleged” PED’s, or at least you can afford the PED’s that arent traceable.

    GROW UP AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.  Even if you didn’t know you have the resources to make sure that you know.  God, this reeks of “flaxseed oil”. I think most fans would forgive and forget much quicker if a player were to admit to taking the “PED”

    • http://Bleachernation Bric

      Braun will never admit to anything. And why should he? In his mind everybody else is cheating so why shouldn’t he. The real problem’s with the league. A player violated the terms of the league contract. So enforce it and sit him for 50 games.

      Bud, if you don’t, it’ll just be one more nail in your legacy. He kinda reminds of me of Hendry (they’re both old friends). He pretends like everything’s okay because he takes a lot of sh*t and still manages a smile while talking about how fun it is still enjoy a game and root for your team. Because regardless of the true age of certain players, PEDs, and an economy that’s been in the worst shape in a century, everyone still loves baseball. And the fans will still show up because it’s baseball.

      -Ah, no, Bud. As long as you continue to institute meaningless policies about player signings, steriods, and allow players to use rediculious excuses like “they didn’t know”, your product will continue to go down the dumper. Just look at your ticket sales. Braun doesn’t need to admit to anything but Selig better answer up.

  • ISU Birds

    Soooo Ryan Braun is jucing, Pujols is out of the division, Dusty Baker still manages the Reds, The Astros who we always seem to lose a fair amount to are leaving, and the Pirates are the Pirates, and we have Theo Epstein?? I don’t see why we can’t win the division this year? Oh wait we are the Cubs….

    • Kyle

      The Cubs have lost their two best offensive players and added nothing significant.

      If I were a Pirates fan, I’d be getting irrationally excited right about now :)

      • ISU Birds

        Two best offensive players? A-Ram and……?

        • Kyle

          Carlos Pena.

          Ramirez and Pena were 1-2 in OPS last season

          • ISU Birds

            I feel as though a certain SS is going to be a more offensive plus than those two in the upcomming years.

            • Kyle

              Wouldn’t put it past him. He was No. 3 this year and is on the rise. I expect a power explosion from him in the near future.

              • Deer

                Who the heck is our power threat next year? They have to sign Fielder, otherwise no guarantee anyone hits 15 other than Sori

                • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

                  What did we win when we had power threats?  Give me a team that can go 25-15 through May by playing the small ball when the wind is blowing in and play .500 ball the rest of the way.  That puts us at 91 wins on the season.  A trade deadline addition and BOOM – 93ish wins.  Enough of these bats that take a while to warm up, get out there, win some games early and dont worry the rest of the way.

                  • Deer

                    You need a couple power threats and surround them with GOOD players. Name playoff teams without power hitters? Also, Dejesus and Stewart don’t = small ball.

                    • kubphan82

                      There’s more but here’s two…

                      2001 Arizona Diamondbacks

                      1988 Dodgers:
                      C – Scioscia (.257)
                      1B – Franklin Stubbs (.223)
                      2B – Steve Sax (.277 with no power)
                      3B – Jeff Hamilton (.236)
                      SS – Alfredo Griffin (.199)
                      OF – Gibson (.290 with 25 HR)
                      OF – John Shelby (.263)
                      OF – Mike Marshall (.277)

                      And these were WS winners, not just playoff teams

                    • Lou

                      But here’s the problem with that argument, 2001 Diamondbacks featured Johnson and Schilling and the Dodgers have always been known as a pitching rich orgranization. I don’t see that with the Cubs. We need at least one legitimate power threat.

      • montellew

        But hey, we still got Sorry-Ano, right? LOL Hop! Hop! Hop!

  • kubphan82

    I saw “action figures” in your opening line and had to re-read it a few times before I could phrase the sentence as intended.

  • MightyBear

    Brett, I thought I saw somewhere that the Cubs could opt out in 2016 but I couldn’t verify it. It could very well be that we have to wait until 2019 to start our own network. I will keep digging.

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