The NFL has reached its penultimate stage, which is exciting to me if only because it allows me to use “penultimate,” one of my favorite – but rarely useful – words.

  • After years of having no one to whom you could point and call a “very good” first base prospect, the Cubs now have two in the top ten in all of baseball, according to 2011 second round pick Dan Vogelbach comes in at number 10, and recently-acquired first baseman of the future Anthony Rizzo comes in at number 1.
  • Speaking of Rizzo, the Tribune has a nice feel-good write-up on the Jason McLeod favorite. Rizzo is going to be an easy one to root for. And it’ll be at first base – McLeod noted on a radio appearance yesterday morning that the Cubs don’t plan on trying him out in a corner outfield spot. Rizzo is a first baseman, and a great one, defensively, at that.
  • Folks want to know where the Cubs’ compensatory pick for Carlos Pena will fall – by my early calculation, it’s going to be right around number 53 (near the end of the supplemental round because it’s for a Type B player, and it is the Cubs’ second supplemental pick (Aramis Ramirez is first, at around pick 42)). That’ll give the Cubs three picks in the top 53, and four in the top 61 or so. Crappy years do have their upside.
  • Ryan Braun, who in October tested positive for a banned substance, accepted his MVP award last night, and here’s a portion of his speech: “Sometimes in life we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure. We have an opportunity to look at those challenges and view them either as obstacles or opportunities. I’ve chosen to view every challenge I’ve ever faced as an opportunity and this will be no different. I’ve always believed that a person’s character is revealed through the way they deal with those moments of adversity.” Perhaps, Ryan. But it’s also possible that your character was revealed about four months ago. Time will tell.
  • The Sun Times reported last week that some Cubs’ scouts were upset that the team had asked them to double up in rooms at the Cubs Convention and to take the L to get there. Now, the Sun Times reports that the Cubs have cut scouts’ per diem from $50 a day to $30 a day. Clearly, the Sun Times has the line on a disgruntled scout or two. I asked a scout if he’d yet heard of the change, and he hadn’t. He said it would surprise him given the Cubs’ stated desire to get the best scouts and pay them like the best. Then again, maybe the Cubs are paying the best salaries, but cutting around the margins. They wouldn’t be the first company to try that approach.
  • Another suggestion – this, from Phil Rogers – that Larry Lucchino is the problematic piece in the Cubs/Red Sox’s efforts to settle the Theo Epstein compensation issue.
  • I’ve heard repeatedly that Alfonso Soriano is a very nice guy, so this story from CubsCon is not surprising: “[O]n Saturday, I met a young girl who was about 12 years old. She was waiting for Alfonso Soriano for 6 1/2 hours in the same spot. She spoke with me about how much she loves him and wants to name her kids after him. I walked up to the stage with her at 4:30 p.m. to finally meet him and she started to cry out of sheer joy. Alfonso signed a picture, a ball and a bat for her and took three pictures with her. That was probably the most exciting moment of her life, and to be a part of that was heartwarming. Despite all of the angst for Soriano that many fans have, the sheer emotion of the situation took over. For that moment, everything was at ease. The best part was Alfonso’s reaction; he loved every second of it.”
  • An interesting article arguing that the only way to really stop PED use is to hammer the players in their wallets every year of their current contract after they test positive. “The notion that being exposed as a possible cheater is a strong enough deterrent is just disingenuous PR spin. Baseball was never as puritanical as revisionists make it out to be. The game’s history is filled with philanderers, drunks and racists — and that was the “Golden Age.” If the game really wants to stop PEDs, it will stop pretending it operates in a “Leave It To Beaver” world and acknowledge that it’s just trying to keep up with the Kardashians like every other money-driven business.”
  • 2much2say

    Boras is setting the table for the Dodgers. Fielder to LA 1.6 bil price tag you better believe he’il wait for that money.

  • loyal100more

    id like to take this chance to thank all the great folks at BN that had the class to help me get my point across when i refered to dan vogebach as “a white prince fielder”. im so very sorry if i offended anyone with my statment it was not my intention, anyone that reads my posts can grasp that i like to be humorous and fun, i mean its hard being a cub fan, we all need to smile and to laugh right? shortly after i made my first apology, i signed off, but i just now saw the posts that came back and it made me feel better. thanks BN and again if i offended anyone… it wasnt my intention and im truely sorry…GO CUBS!!!

    • BetterNews

      You didn’t do anything wrong! Comparing Vog to Fielder is great! I’m tired of people saying we can’t use the words black or white. Really!

      • loyal100more

        i really have to agree that some folks are a bit to sensitive, but thats not for me to say. im just glad i have some company when i comes to my observation. thanks

        • BetterNews

          What would happen if a child said Obama is the first ‘black’ president? Throw him/her in jail? If MichiganGoat had his way he would say yes, of course!

          • MichiganGoat

            Classy I never made a comment on this topic but there you go with the immature name calling (at least you didn’t call me a Nazi or KGB this time). Race and color will always be a sensitive topic but as long as we can have “Couragous Conversation” (great book everyone should look into) we are doing fine, but to accuse someone of wanting to throw people on jail because of what the say is childish and shows a true lack of intelligence. Nice to see you back to the true BetterNews.

  • kubphan82

    “But it’s also possible that your character was revealed about four months ago.”
    I was hoping to read this line as:
    It’s also possible that your character was TESTED AND revealed about four months ago…

  • gritsngravy

    Good morning all. This is my first time posting on bleacher nation. I recently discovered this site while sitting idle at work in front of my computer. I want to comment on fonzie. Other than his lack of hustle at times down the first base line I think he is a class act. With that being said I think that he does not fit into the current mold of Theo’s Cubs. I hope the cubs are able to move him for both his sake and the sake of the cubs. I think the cubs may surprise some people this year.

    • Dougy D

      Welcome. I agree with you as far as Soriano seeming to be a good guy, and a bit of a slacker. Which makes me think that he would be a decent DH for someone. I think that the Cubs will have to make it so the team that takes him only has to pay him $5 MIL or less per year. Anyone know if the A’s have their DH set for the year?

      • DocWimsey

        I’m not even sure we can call him a slacker. My understanding is that Sori puts in a lot of time in the weight room, in the batting cage and watching game videos. That’s where the real “effort” is for baseball: preparation. (This probably is true for most thinks, come to think on it!)

        Oh, and welcome…..

        • Dougy D

          Well, I am sure that we can all agree that it is a good thing that he doesn’t do his lame little hop when catching fly balls anymore. He hasn’t dropped as many painfully easy balls since that stopped. He doesn’t seem like he s ready for action in the field to me (kind of like the infamous Castro with the sunflower seeds from last year). I think that he lacks focus (maybe that is why he seems so lazy to me) and that is one reason why he is such a defensive liability. Come on Superfriends, work your magic and put Soriano in the AL where he belongs!

    • scorecardpaul

      good morning gritsngravy,
      welcome, and enjoy the ride

  • die hard

    If Houston can get its act together and shake payroll, Fielder would be a natural fit as they go AL next year.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    cub fans are truly cubbiewubbie soriano maybe he should be a first ballot hall of famer. come on man! the guy is one of the all time overpaid dogs in cub history.

  • gritsngravy

    I foresee Texas going all in and grabbing fielder. The game right now is waiting to see what everyone offers and the worse thing for Boras is for the cubs to seemingly be out of the race. I would rather the cubs not spend a ton on fielder and wait for next years free agent pitching crop. Rizzo is going to rake. He is young and still learning what a real curve ball and slider look like. Being a cubs fan my whole life I have fallen for the hype of the next big thing ie fukudome. Yes I bought the jersey the first day it was available for purchase. Rizzo has the build and attitude to be a productive player in the majors for a long time.

  • gritsngravy

    Thanks for the warm welcome by the way guys.

  • Elephanthole

    The Cubs have good first baseman all through the organization and not just Rizzo and Vogelbach. Richard Jones led the Chiefs with almost 100 rbi. Rebel Ridling had a great year for Daytona. Justin Bour was one rbi shy of leading the Smokies. Bryan Lahair led the Iowa Cubs in rbi. Lets see what all these first baseman can do in 2012.

  • ChicagOdie

    Perhaps the scouts were seeing cuts for the Cubs Convention because their attendance wasn’t entirely necessary or perhaps the Cubs are becoming budget-conscious like their fans? I’m still assuming that Theo & Co. are smart enough not to lose talent while being fiscally responsible – players and personnel alike.

    Brett, how many total scouts do the Cubs have? What does a $20 savings/day in per diem represent in annual savings? Maybe that allows them to hire an additional scout?

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  • BetterNews

    Is Rizzo the next Jim Thome?